After the end of day four, Aussies can see their destiny, but it would not be be an easy way, as Indian bowlers have signaled, reports ESPN.
After Cheteshwar Pujara continued from his masterclass in the first innings and Ajinkya Rahane progressed to a busy fifty, R Ashwin and Mohammed Shami turned the screws on Australia in their daunting chase of 323 at the Adelaide Oval. Rishabh Pant’s hit-and-giggle cameo in front of the stumps, his eight dismissals behind it, and pinpoint accuracy from the seamers all added to India sighting a significant victory at a venue where they had suffered a heartbreak four years ago.
Never before have India won the opening Test of a series in Australia – they had lost nine of their 11 previous first Tests in the country. They took a step closer to making history on the fourth day, despite losing their last five wickets for 25 runs, and then suffering a couple of lapses in the field.
Aaron Finch could have been dismissed for a pair, when he was pinned by Ishant Sharma’s boomerang inswinger in the second ball of the innings, but replays showed that the quick had overstepped. It cost India only 11 runs, but Finch could have made them pay more had he reviewed umpire Nigel Llong’s on-field out decision, after glancing an Ashwin offbreak off the top of his pad to Pant. Finch, instead, reckoned he had touched it with a fraction of his glove, and decided against doing so.
Marcus Harris, the other opener, was reprieved on 14, when he jabbed at Mohammed Shami and nicked one to an unusually spread-out cordon, where Cheteshwar Pujara threw himself to his left from first slip, but the ball burst out. While it was a difficult chance for Pujara, it would have been a dolly for second slip, but India had nobody there, and KL Rahul at third slip helplessly watched the ball trickle away to third man. Harris added 12 to his tally before Shami claimed his outside edge again, resulting in a more straightforward catch for Pant.
Ashwin, aided by Bumrah and Shami at the other end, then straightjacketed Usman Khawaja and forced him to manufacture a release shot. Khawaja ventured down the track only to hole out to sweeper cover, falling to Ashwin for the second time in the game.
Handscomb played close to his body and put a high price on his wicket like he had done in his first innings, but the extra pace and bounce of Shami had him skying a catch to short midwicket, leaving Australia at 4 for 84. Shaun Marsh, who was Western Australia’s hero in a similarly hefty chase at this venue last month, and Travis Head, Australia’s first-innings hero in this game, ushered the side to stumps without any further setbacks.
Starc, in particular, struggled for control and even swung a brace of full balls down the leg side – both hurtled away to the fine-leg boundary for byes. Lyon, though, exhibited great control and set in motion a collapse. After being denied thrice by DRS, he removed both Pujara and Rohit Sharma in three overs before tea. Pant then announced himself with a devil-may-care hoick against Lyon’s offbreak over mid-on, and launched the second session of the day with four successive hoicked boundaries off Lyon.
Score: India 250 and 307 (Pujara 71, Lyon 6-22); Australia – 235 and 104/4 (Marsh 31*, Shami 2-15,) Australia need 219 runs to win.