Australia (572/7) and (251/6, Smith 71, Burns 66, Ashwin 4/105) lead India (475, Kohli 147, Rahul 110, Starc 3/106)
The 4th day of the Sydney Test, between India and Australia, saw fortunes swing from team to the other. India suffered from a heavy Australian batting assault in the 2nd innings, after posting a decent 475 on board in the 1st innings. The Australians went hammer and tongs at the aimless Indian bowlers in the 2nd innings and registered a lead of 348 at the close of play on Day 4.
The Indian tail wags, finally!
There were strong chances of India collapsing yet again, today, after Virat Kohli was dismissed soon after play began in the morning. The Indian captain departed after scoring magnificent 147 runs, leaving the Indian innings dependent on the batting capabilities of the tail enders. And for the first time in this series, the Indian lower order stood up to the task! A 31 run stand between Wriddhiman Saha and Ravichandran Ashwin was followed by a defiant 65 run stand between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashwin, effectively taking India significantly close to the massive Australian total of 572.
Ashwin came to the fore with a gritty half century, and was assisted expertly by Bhuvneshwar Kumar who chipped in with a useful 30, which may have stretched a bit more if the third umpire had ruled in his favour a controversial decision. Mohammed Shami contributed with a few lusty blows that brought the deficit down to under 100, making draw the most probable result at the end of the Indian innings.
Australia launches a fierce attack
What followed the brief period of resilience by the Indians could only be termed as an unforeseen assault on the Indian bowlers, which eventually led to the Aussie amassing one of the highest totals in a single session in a Test match. Chris Rogers and Shane Watson set the stage up for their middle order counterparts, scoring a rate of nearly 6 for the first 7 overs, despite the early dismissal of David Warner to a rising Ashwin delivery.
Steve Smith came into the picture with Watson’s dismissal and made matters worse for the Indians who then slowly started to feel the heat. The Aussie captain blasted the Indian attack with right from the very word go, and was especially brutal on the errant Umesh Yadav whom went for 17 runs in his very first over, and ultimately ended the day with figures of 3-0-45-0. An attacking innings of 71 from Smith propelled the Aussie lead past 200 in quick time and put the pressure right back on India.
Joe Burns adds to India’s worries
It was the innings of Joe Burns that turned out to be standout feature of Day 4 in Sydney – the newcomer did not wait for any signal to press on the accelerator, he just went for it from ball one. An innings of 66 off 39, very much resembling a typical T20 knock, completely deflated the Indian hopes as the lead surged past 300 and towards 350 in no time. Brad Haddin’s unbeaten 30 ball 31 also played a part in the Aussie dominance in the final session. By the time Burns departed, the hosts had scored 213 runs in the final session of play, making India’s task of surviving for the better part of the final day appear to be significantly difficult.
Sydney Test still has something for batsmen
If there is one thing that the Indians can take away from the events of the last 4 days, it is that their batting has come to terms with the conditions in Australia and has learnt the required lessons in time. So, with the Sydney track still blessed with enough help for the batting party, one can realistically expect the Indians t give it a go in case the Australians declare overnight or within a few overs after start of play tomorrow; otherwise, India dragging it out to a draw appears inevitable!