For two days, the Australian bowling toiled for 160 overs to price out seven Indian wickets. On the third day, Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team displayed how big the gulf was between both sides as Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja spun a web around the Australian batsmen to reduce them to 236/6 before bad light and rain brought a premature end to day 3 in the fourth and final Test in Sydney on Saturday. With Australia still trailing by 386 runs and with two days remaining, it will be interesting to see whether Kohli, who did not enforce the follow-on in Melbourne, employs a different tactic on day 4.
Australia started off in confident fashion with both Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja batting with confidence. Both openers did not allow Ravindra Jadeja to settle as they used their feet regularly to upset his length. They tackled Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami confidently as the partnership went past fifty. However, in what has been the common downfall of Australia in this series, the batsmen could not build on a good start. Khawaja, in trying to be aggressive, was beaten in the flight by Kuldeep as he miscued a slog to be caught at midwicket for 27.
Marnus Labuschagne survived some yorkers from Bumrah but Harris went past fifty and heading into lunch, Australia had scored at a hefty pace and did not lose too many wickets. The stage was set for an interesting second session. However, immediately after the break, Harris’ quest for a maiden century was thwarted when he dragged Jadeja back on to the stumps to depart for 79. Following his dismissal, the rest of the middle order unraveled.
Shaun Marsh, woefully out of sorts, was the next to go for 8 as he edged Jadeja to Ajinkya Rahane at slip. Labuschagne (38) was looking confident but he flicked a full ball from Mohammed Shami and was smartly caught by Rahane again, this time at midwicket. Travis Head and Peter Handscomb tried to stitch a solid partnership but on 20, Head drove a low full toss straight to Kuldeep who took the catch.
Wickets continued to tumble post the tea break. Kuldeep, who had noticed that Australia skipper Tim Paine struggled with the round the wicket angle, continued to trouble him and reaped success. The chinaman bowler bowled a flighted delivery and Paine (5) looked to drive but the ball spun back in past the gap between bat and pad to knock the stumps out.
Pat Cummins, who displayed his magnificent all-round skills in Melbourne, staged a mini-revival with some attacking strokes as he moved to 25, with 24 runs in boundaries but bad light, combined with rain resulted in early stumps. However, with such a massive advantage, it is only a matter of time for Kohli’s team as they go for the win and seal a historic series win.