Australia stretched their lead on the morning of Day 4 as Steve Smith once again led the charge. India made inroads as Navdeep Saini picked up two wickets. But that wasn’t enough to unsettle the home side.
The team went into lunch with 6 wickets in hand and will look to pick up the scoring rate after a slow morning session. India will try to bowl out Australia as soon as possible.
Brief scores: Australia 182/4 (Marnus Labuschagne 73, Steve Smith 58*; Navdeep Saini 2/47, Mohammed Siraj 1/37) & 338 all-out lead India 244 all out by 276 runs
Jasprit Bumrah opened the bowling for the hosts, and could have had a wicket in just his second ball of the day. But Hanuma Vihari made a meal of a simple regulation at backward square and Marnus Labuschagne survived.
India’s bowlers looked potent this morning Day 4 as they persisted with their leg stump tramp. But just like the 1st innings, Australia were up to the task. Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne cautiously saw out the first half-hour, scoring just 6 runs off the first 7 overs. Labuschagne also brought up his 50, continuing his strong showing at Sydney.
Ravichandran Ashwin was the next bowler to try his luck with the middle-and-leg line. Once again, Australia didn’t allow Ashwin to settle into his groove. Labuschagne, particularly, used his feet to cart him for a boundary down the ground.
Australia looked to pick up the scoring after they saw out the first hour. Marnus Labuschagne’s attack on Ashwin included a cheeky reverse sweep to bring up the century stand with Smith. However, history repeated itself as the Australian was dismissed soon after the milestone.
Saini the pick of India's bowlers on Day 4 morning
Navdeep Saini’s persistence finally paid off. Labuschagne flicked a delivery down leg side, and Wriddhiman Saha dived smartly to his left to complete a great catch.
The debutant was at the centre of attention again, as he picked the wicket of Matthew Wade. Saini’s delivery shaped away just a touch, and the Australian batsman edged it to the keeper.
Steve Smith's revival against India continues
Saini’s double-wicket blow dashed plans of an Australian attack. Smith and Green played out the next 10 overs for just 22 runs. Australia’s No.4 also brought up his half-century in the process, as Australia’s lead swelled past 250.
Despite the loss of two wickets, Australia go into break as the happier side. Steve Smith will aim to score back-to-back centuries. And with batting still to come, the hosts could come out attacking and declare around Tea.
India would be worried about the target set by Australia. The highest successful chase at Sydney was in 2006 when South Africa notched up 288/2. With the lead already past that mark, an injury-depleted Indian side will try to keep the score as low as possible.Published 10 Jan 2021, 07:59 IST