By BV Swagath
India are on the brink of a comprehensive victory in the Chennai Test after the Aussie batsmen failed to pass their big test against spin on a deteriorating fourth day pitch. The hosts could have wrapped up an innings victory as well but Moises Henriques had other ideas, scoring his second half century of the match on debut and taking the Test into the final day alongside no. 11 Nathan Lyon. The Aussies are still alive with an overall lead of 40 runs with one wicket in hand. India would be hoping that they get that one wicket early tomorrow so that their target would not be anything more than 100.
Apart from that last wicket partnership, India had yet another fabulous session taking five wickets in the final session to reduce Australia to 175 for 9 with 17 more runs to defend for an innings victory. R Ashwin provided a quick breakthrough in the first over after Tea when he had Michael Clarke (31 from 51 balls with 4 fours) lbw in an attempted square cut to a delivery that turned square from outside off and stayed very low to hit the backpad plumb infront of middle. Next man, Peter Siddle was bowled by a Jadeja dart in an attempted slog sweep.
Ashwin took care of the left-handers – Pattinson (edging a late cut to slip) and Starc (holing out to long on with a miscued lofted shot) to claim his second five-wicket haul of the Test.
Update at Tea on Day 4: Australia are in dire straits losing half their side by Tea with 64 runs in deficit. Skipper Michael Clarke (31*) is holding their fortunes and with Moises Henqirues will look to repeat a big partnership like in the first innings. There was plenty of action in the afternoon session as Australia lost wickets in a hurry on a pitch that was misbehaving.
The first to depart in the session was the hard working Ed Cowan (32 from 97 balls) missing a flick and getting hit on the pad in line of middle by one that straightened from R Ashwin. Phil Hughes was dismissed for a 3-ball duck as he fended off a nasty delivery off the glove to slip from Jadeja which kicked up towards his chest with turn. David Warner (23 from 61 balls), who came in at no.3 was next to go, lbw to a lovely drifter from Harbhajan. The same bowler cleaned up Matthew Wade’s off stump with an arm ball as the left hander tried to release his pressure by attempting a premeditate slog sweep. Michael Clarke with Australia slipping away straightaway launched a counter attack especially against the dangerous Jadeja.
Update at Lunch on Day 4: R Ashwin provided a perfect finish to the morning session for Team India by forcing Shane Watson to edge his bouncing straighter one to slip. The Aussies at lunch time are 34 for 1 in 16 overs with Watson (17 from 46 balls) dismissed in the final ball before the break. It was a different opening combination for the Aussies with David Warner unable to bat because of tummy problems.
Earlier, India batted for nearly an hour to stretch its overnight lead of 135 runs to 192. MS Dhoni went onto score 224 (from 265 balls with 24 fours and 6 sixes) before he gloved his hook off a Pattinson bouncer to the keeper. Dhoni with the company of Bhuvneshwar Kumar added as many as 140 runs for the 9th wicket. Pattinson with Dhoni’s scalp ended with a 3rd five-wicket haul. Bhuvneshwar (38 from 97 balls with 4 fours) was the last man dismissed when he spooned a simple catch to mid off to what was a well disguised slower one from Siddle. India was bowled out for 572 with the Aussies having to field for 154.3 overs!
Build Up to Day 4: The Chennai Test is nicely set up in favour of India thanks to a blazing double century from Skipper MS Dhoni. We should be getting to watch the Aussies bat very soon with India on the brink of getting bowled out in their first innings. Everything now depends on how the Aussies would cope up against the Indian spinners on a dirty pitch with rough patches on both the sides.