Rain, bad light delay India's march to victory

Australia's Mitchell Starc lets a high ball go past on day 4 of their cricket test match against India in Sydney, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. AP/PTI

A combination of persistent drizzle and bad light ensured that no more than 107 minutes of play was possible for the day as Australia lived to fight the last day of the final Test. While India would push hard for the win, nothing can prevent them from their maiden series triumph Down Under – it’s just a matter of whether it’s going to be 3-1 or will remain 2-1.  

After what seemed an eternal wait, India finally got on the park on an overcast day 190 minutes behind the schedule. The visiting attack then took 80 minutes to dismiss Australia, overnight 236/6 in reply to India’s 622/7 declared, for 300 all out in 104.5 overs with Kuldeep Yadav taking a five-wicket haul (5/99) in his first Test Down Under. With a massive 322-run lead, the tourists duly enforced the follow-on in a bid to make the most of the available time.

Australia were six for no loss in four overs when play was stopped due to bad light with the home team needing 316 runs to make India bat again on Sunday’s final day. An early tea was taken but with light only deteriorating, umpires finally called it a day after 5.00 pm local time.

This is only the second time India have asked Australia to bat again with the first instance coming way back in 1986, also at the SCG. The hosts had managed to draw that time. This is also Australia’s first home match in 30 years since the one-off Bicentennial Test against England in 1988, again at the SCG, that they have been asked to follow on. That too had ended in a draw. Both history and weather seem to be working in tandem to deny India a 3-1 lead at the moment.     

On either side of the drizzle-enforced delay and the stoppage influenced by the poor visibility, India managed to prise out the remaining four wickets in Australia’s innings after the teams had retired early on Saturday’s third day here at the Sydney Cricket Ground.    

Had Hanuma Vihari held on to Josh Hazlewood’s miscued slog sweep at mid-on, Australia would have been all out for 264 and nearly 13 overs earlier than they eventually did. Hazlewood, yet to open his account having faced seven balls by then, went on to play 36 more balls for his 21 to frustrate the Indians. In the process, he also added 42 runs for the final wicket with Mitchell Starc who struck an unbeaten 29. Kuldeep, denied his five-wicket haul by the Vihari slip, took the fielders out of equation to trap the same batsman lbw and wrap up the innings. In all, Australia added 64 runs in 21.2 overs for the day.    

India expectedly opted for the new ball after Ravindra Jadeja bowled the three balls of his incomplete over on Saturday evening. And Mohammad Shami cleaned up Pat Cummins with the third ball of the day’s fresh over with the one that kept low even after pitching short in length.

Jasprit Bumrah put an end to Peter Handscomb’s comeback innings when the right-hander’s hesitant defence inside-edged on to stumps off the turf. Kuldeep Yadav then had a sweeping Nathan Lyon trapped in front with a full ball.                  

Earlier, India’s wait for their impending 3-1 lead had spilled beyond the first session as intermittent drizzle, light to lighter, persisted contrary to weather forecast. After a few inspections and false starts and with just over three hours of play lost, Sunday’s penultimate day of the final Test was set to start at 1.50 pm local time which it eventually did.

 

SCORE BOARD

INDIA (I Innnings): 622/7 decl

AUSTRALIA (I Innings; O/n: 236/6):

Harris b Jadeja 79

(120b, 8x4)

Khawaja c Pujara b Kuldeep 27

(71b, 3x4)

Labuschagne c Rahane b Shami 38

(95b, 7x4)

S Marsh c Rahane b Jadeja 8

(13b, 2x4)

Head c & b Kuldeep 20

(56b, 2x4)

Handscomb b Bumrah 37

(111b, 5x4)

Paine b Kuldeep 5

(14b, 1x4)

Cummins b Shami 25

(44b, 6x4)

Starc (not out) 29

(55b, 3x4)

Lyon lbw Kuldeep 0

(5b)

Hazlewood lbw Kuldeep 21

(45b, 2x4)

Extras (B-4, LB-2, W-5) 11

Total (all out, 104.5 overs) 300

Bowling: Shami 19-2-58-2, Bumrah 21-5-62-1 (w-5), Jadeja 32-11-73-2, Kuldeep 31.5-6-99-5, Vihari 1-0-2-0. 

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Rain, bad light delay India's march to victory

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