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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Australia draw ahead but draw ahead after gritty day at the workplace: Fourth Test Day 4

India 526 and 1/45 lead Australia 563 ( R Ponting 140, M Clarke 118, M Hayden 103, I Pathan 3/112, I Sharma 3/115) by 8 runs with 9 wickets in hand.

After a couple of spectator intrusions onto the arena during the afternoon, the ground PA announcer asked everyone to respect the players' workplace. This is the first time I can recall hearing that term used during a game, though it was an apt description of the Adelaide Oval for much of the day's play, during which Australia moved from 3/322, losing only 6 wickets in overtaking India's first innings score, then to 563 all out.

241 from 70 overs was hardly scintillating cricket yet this included two workmanplace like centuries from Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke. The is not intended to be too critical, merely to suggest that both Ponting and Clarke have batted better and more fluently. The captain had back trouble and needed a runner for the latter part of his innings, yet it was clear from his onfield workplace demeanour that he had some points to prove, not least that he had mastered Harbhajan Singh. His hundredth run came up, by his design I'm sure, with a single off Bhajji's bowling. He then continued to 140 from 266 b, surely one of the slowest innings he's played in any form of cricket.

Clarke looked more fluent, yet he had his quiet passages and the scoring rate of his 118/242b was a tad slower than his captain's.

Everyone present looked forward to Adam Gilchrist's innings. As you'd expect he was given a standing ovation when he appeared at 6/490 He hit one 4, a straight drive which had Umpire Bowden ducking for cover, and seemed
set to produce more when at 506 he was caught by Sehwag at cover off Irfan Pathan, for 14/18b. made in 19 minutes. He departed to another standing ovation.

At 6/506 Australia were close to overhauling India's first innings. They did so wiithout further loss: just. The 7th wicket fell at 527 and the rest didn't last long.

Of the the Indian bowlers though Ishant Sharma (40-6-115-3) was consistently good until he lost his rhythm in the later stages of the innings and Verinder Sehwag ((19-2-51-2) extracted more zip from the pitch than his fellow, and supposedly more proficient, offspinner Harhajan.

Irfan Pathan also had his moments during the 36 overs he bowled (for 3/112) but he still opened the batting in the second innings. It was hardly surprising that he didn't stay long: lbw Johnson 0. Sehwag and Rahul Dravid played out the 17 overs to stumps, watching the quick bowlers carefully. Sehwag was given a life by Michael Clarke in the slips off Brett Lee but took 20 from the three overs bowled by Andrew Symonds.

With one day's play, ie 90 overs, remaining the game looks set for a draw. There is little in the wicket or the course of the match so far to suggest that it will end otherwise, though if the Australian attack could, with support from the fielders, work through the formidable Indian batting line up, an Australian win may not be out of the question. It's hard to see how India can win from here: they would need to pile on the runs, declare and bowl Australia out. Unlikely in 90 (or considerably more) overs.

Scorecard.

Cricinfo Bulletin
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