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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.

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