Bowlers leave India on verge of series win

Hosts need 87 runs to seal the deal

Bowlers leave India on verge of series win
A resurgent India launched a brilliant counter-attack to catapult themselves to the brink of a series-deciding victory over Australia in the fourth Test on Monday.

In yet another fascinating day of cricket, India were bolstered by the match-changing 96 runs seventh-wicket partnership between Ravindra Jadeja (63) and Wriddhiman Saha (31), after they began the day at 248/6. The pitch, with condiments of turn and bounce, continued to test the batsmen on the third day but Jadeja played a gutsy knock to unleash a well-deserved sword dance.

Together Jadeja and Saha erased the overnight first-innings lead of 57 before India lost four wickets for 15 runs. Still, the hosts managed to take the key first-innings lead of 32 by lunch. It was now the chance of India’s bowlers to capitalise on the conditions. To the delight of the fans, the Australian batting suffered a dramatic collapse in the next two sessions on the fast breaking pitch. They folded after tea, scoring 137 in the second innings, and setting India a target of 106.

KL Rahul (13 n.o.) and Murali Vijay (6 n.o.) played out the final six overs of the day to raise 19/0 in the second innings with India 87 runs away from winning the match and the series.

The way the Australians shot back into the contest on the second day, their capitulation in the second innings was surprising. To their credit, Indian seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav got the new ball moving and before Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja combined to bag the Australian wickets in clumps.  

David Warner’s torrid tour continued despite being given life by Karun Nair at the third slip again. Nair had dropped Warner in the first innings too, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar the unlucky bowler on both occasions. Umesh ensured the error didn’t hurt India by getting Warner to edge his away going delivery in the next over.

Five overs later, captain Steve Smith, looking to force pace, played on Bhuvneshwar and Australia had been delivered a sucker punch that set their campaign spinning. Shortly after, Umesh squared up Renshaw with a short of length delivery and all Saha had to do was to gobble the edge.

The fourth-wicket 56 runs between Peter Handscomb and Glenn Maxwell was the solitary phase of resistance from the Australians, before Indian spinners ran amok their line-up. The magic of chinaman Kuldeep Yadav didn’t work in the second innings. He was taken off after five overs, after Ajinkya Rahane’s ploy of bowling him in tandem with Jadeja failed to yield desired results.

India then turned to their most reliable spinner, Ashwin and the seasoned offie instantly obliged. Handscomb was left befuddled by the bounce to feather an edge and Rahane took an outstanding catch at slip. With the partnership broken, Jadeja had an injured Shaun Marsh at the stroke of tea and by then the Indians had the match within their grip.

Resuming the final session at 92/5, the tourists lost Maxwell, who was trapped leg before by Ashwin, and even the DRS couldn’t agree more. Matthew Wade put up a lone battle, but with his partners fast leaving he could do little. There was a bit of drama when Vijay at gully was convinced he had caught Josh Hazlewood, and sprinted along with the Indians to pad up for the second innings. However, the reviews showed he had grassed it. The Australians made their displeasure apparent, the groundsmen were sent back, the play resumed, and a ball later Ashwin had Hazlewood back in the shed, by rapping him on the pad, the ball, on being referred for a review, found hitting the middle stump.

The Indians had taken out the wheels from Australian challenge, and would be eager to return on Tuesday to finish the formalities.

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