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Friday, January 09, 2015

India resist, then Australia go heater-skelter to set up chance of win: T4D4


Australia 9/572d & 6/251 (40ov, Smith 71/70b/1x6 8x4, Burns 66/39b/3x6 8x4, Rogers 56/77b/7x4, Haddin 31*/30b/ 2x6 2x4,Ashwin 19-2-105-4) lead India 475 (162ov, Kohli 147/230b/20x4, Rahul 110/262b/1x6 13x4, R Sharma 53, Ashwin 50/111b/6x4, Saha 35,Kumar 30, Starc 32-7-106-3, Watson 2/58, Harris 2/96, Lyon 2/123) by 348 runs with four 2nd inns wkts in hand; T4/4 D4/5 at SCG.

Virat Kohli's early dismissal, after adding only 7 runs to his overnight140, left India's middle and lower order to make the best of a bad job by trying to (1) get as close as possible to Australia's first innings total and (2) occupying the crease for as long as possible. A 97 run deficit and survival beyond lunch wasn't bad from their perspective, as the time they'd used up seemed to consign the match to a draw. But Australia had other ideas, and shook the Test out of its torpor with a vigorous counterattack of T20 proportions. This should - must- allow them to declare overnight.

Australia's quickfire reply was driven by the expected - Steve Smith's 71, the unexpected - Chris
Rogers's 56, and the surprising- Joe Burns's 66/39b. India's opening attack Bhuvaneshwar Kumar
and- wise choice in the circumstances of the match and pitch- Ravi Ashwin began well  but the group fell apart in the face of the unremitting attack (have there been worse figures in a Test than Umesh Yadav's 3-0-45-0?). Ashwin's bowling  did confirm that the wicket was taking spin, which should make   Nathan Lyon lick his lips in anticipation of a few wickets on the final day.

A major obstacle to a result may be the weather. Rain truncated today's last session and more is forecast for tomorrow. I thought Australia were safe from defeat once they had a lead of 300, which would have allowed them to declare and put India under the batting pump before stumps. India may be made an offer which they can refuse.

Scorecard http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia-v-india-2014-15/engine/match/754743.html
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