Late strikes put India in command

Cricket Third Test: Vijays hundred and Bhuvneshwars three-wicket burst land Australia in trouble

Late strikes put India in command

The Australian bowlers atoned for their supreme profligacy on the third day with a more controlled show on Sunday, but three quick dismissals towards the end of the day in their second innings pushed them to the brink of a potential third loss in as many Tests.

After their pacers had done well, especially with the second new ball, enough to restrict the Indian innings, overnight 283/0, to 499 all out, Australia lost both their openers – David Warner and Ed Cowan – and a promoted Steven Smith to find themselves reeling at 75/3 at stumps here at the PCA Stadium. Starting their innings 91 runs in arrears, the visitors are 16 runs behind India’s first innings total.

Just as the Australian pacers had found success against Indian batsmen with the new ball, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/25) struck three vital blows for India to shut the visitors all but out of the series.

Having struggled all through the tour, Phil Hughes (53 batting, 68b, 8x4, 1x6) produced a counter-attacking half-century to hold a ray of hope for his team what with an injury cloud on Michael Clarke. The Aussie skipper sustained a back strain in the morning session that often forced him to make a few trips to the pavilion.

While India’s comeback towards the evening did provide some much-needed delight for the sparse spectators, it was disappointment all through the first two sessions.

Even before the holiday crowd could settle into their seats, Shikhar Dhawan, batting on 183, surrendered his wicket pushing a Nathan Lyon delivery into the safe hands of Cowan at silly point. It was a rather tame end to an innings that was characterised by sheer audacity.

The debutant did miss out on a double century (187), but his 289-run association with M Vijay (153) had given hosts an ideal platform to go for the kill.

Following his 163 in Hyderabad, this was Vijay’s second 150-plus score on the trot. This was also only the second instance both the Indian openers getting 150-plus scores after Pankaj Roy and Vinoo Mankad, who had a record opening stand of 432 against New Zealand in Chennai (at Corpotation Ground) in January 1956.  

After ending Dhawan’s boisterous stay at the wicket, Peter Siddle (5/71) got a lucky breakthrough when Aleem Dar didn’t detect an inside edge while giving Cheteshwar Pujara the marching orders.

The visiting attack then stifled Vijay and Sachin Tendulkar (37, 81b, 5x4) as the home team made a painfully slow progress. It’s a different matter that an exceptional display of swing bowling from Bhuvneshwar has provided India with a good chance of taking a 3-0 lead before the final Test in Delhi, but there appeared to be no intent to force the issue in the morning session.

Where a staggering 283 runs had come in 58 overs at just under five runs an over on the third day, a paltry 101 were scored in the two and half hours play during which 36 were possible. The defensive approach totally took the momentum away from India and Australian pacers consolidated further after discovering some of their mean streak with the new ball.

While Vijay did show some urgency finding boundaries on and off, Tendulkar shut the shop quite early following the introduction of the left-arm spin of Xavier Doherty. The right-hander, who has had a few problems against that type in the past, managed just one run off 23 balls from Doherty. Tendulkar’s diffidence was to cost him his wicket soon when Smith had the Mumbaikar caught at short-leg at the stroke of lunch.

On another day, this would have been more than acceptable scoring rate but in the light of shortened duration of play (the first day was washed out due to rain) India needed more than what they came up with on the day. Nearly six overs into the second session and after the 101st over, Australia summoned the new ball and the decision literally swung things in favour of the tourists.

Mitchell Starc (2/74) wrote prelude to India’s procession, trapping Vijay and MS Dhoni in the space of four balls. Siddle then accounted for Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin to reduce the hosts to 431/7 from a commanding 384/3. Virat Kohli (67 n.o., 129b, 7x4, 1x6) waged a lone battle in the company of tail before he ran out of partners. 

score board


AUSTRALIA (I Innings): 408 all out in 141.5 overs.

INDIA (I Innings; O/n: 283/0):
Vijay lbw Starc    ........153
(416m, 317b, 19x4, 3x6)
Dhawan c Cowan b Lyon    187
(251m, 174b, 33x4, 2x6)
Pujara lbw Siddle    1
(12m, 13b)
Tendulkar c Cowan b Smith    37
(124m, 81b, 5x4)
Kohli (not out)    67
(157m, 129b, 7x4, 1x6)
Dhoni lbw Starc    4
(2m, 3b, 1x4)
Jadeja c Haddin b Siddle    8
(15m, 9b, 1x4)
Ashwin c Haddin b Siddle    4
(6b, 1x4)
B’neshwar c Haddin b Henriques    18
(90m, 57b, 2x4)
Ishant c Haddin b Siddle    0
(4m, 3b)
Ojha b Siddle    1
(2m, 2b)

Extras (B-5, LB-13, NB-1)    19

Total (all out, 132.1 overs)    499

Fall of wickets: 1-289 (Dhawan), 2-292 (Pujara), 3-384 (Tendulkar), 4-412 (Vijay), 5-416 (Dhoni), 6-427 (Jadeja), 7-431 (Ashwin), 8-492 (Bhuvneshwar), 9-493 (Ishant).

Bowling: Starc 23-5-74-2, Peter Siddle 29.1-9-71-5 (nb-1), Moises Henriques 15-1-62-1, Lyon 31-4-124-1, Doherty 24-8-87-0, Smith 10-0-63-1.

AUSTRALIA (II Innings):

Warner c Dhoni b Bhuvneshwar    2
(2m, 3b)
Cowan lbw Bhuvneshwar    8
(34m, 20b, 1x4)
Hughes (batting)    53
(79m, 68b, 8x4, 1x6)
Smith b Bhuvneshwar    5
(22m, 19b)
Lyon (batting)    4
(23m, 17b, 1x4)

Extras (LB-2, Nb-1)    3

Total (for 3 wkts, 21 overs)    75

Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Warner), 2-35 (Cowan), 3-55 (Smith).

Bowling: Bhuvneshwar 8-1-25-3, Ishant 2-0-11-0 (nb-1), Ashwin 7-2-25-0, Ravindra Jadeja 2-1-11-0, Pragyan Ojha 2-1-1-0.

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