324 steps to glory


Brisbane, January 18

Pace bowlers Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur produced another inspired effort on the fourth day of the fourth and final Test, but Australia set India a challenging target of 328.

India were 4/0 when rain arrived and stopped play late in the final session. The exhilarating series will come down to this on the final day of the tour — India need 324 more to win, Australia need 10 wickets, and there’s the prospect of rain spoiling the party.

The target is tricky and by lunch tomorrow, the Indian batsmen would get a fair idea about whether to go for it.

Aussies get 294

Siraj and Thakur shared nine wickets as Australia lurched to 294 in their second innings.

Shardul Thakur celebrates after dismissing Tim Paine on Monday. AP/PTI

With 5/73 in 19.5 overs, Siraj punched way above his weight but Australia managed a good run rate of 3.87 per over in the innings.

It was the kind of day that Test aficionados love, the ebb and flow in action keeping everyone on the edge of their seats.

India’s rookie bowling attack, which had 11 Test wickets before Brisbane, got 20 wickets here without being over-expensive.

Siraj produced top quality balls to get rid of the opposition’s two best batsmen — Marnus Labuschagne (25 off 22 balls) and Steve Smith (55 off 74 balls).

Labuschagne got a fuller delivery on the off-stump that moved a shade, forcing an edge to Rohit Sharma at second slip. Smith, who was on the offensive, was hurried by a ball that climbed on to him, hit his glove and lobbed to Ajinkya Rahane at gully.

Aussies on attack

But in the morning session, Siraj was either being pulled or driven through covers imperiously as David Warner (48 off 75 balls) and Marcus Harris (38 off 82 balls) took control to send him and Thangarasu Natarajan on a leather-hunt. Between them, they hit 14 boundaries, 11 of them today.

Ground staff bring covers onto the field as rain stops play on Day 4 in Brisbane on Monday. AP/PTI

Then a mini-collapse occurred. Thakur, only 5ft 7in tall, bounced Harris, and the ball brushed his glove and went to Rishabh Pant. In the very next over, Warner was rapped on his back leg by Washington Sundar with one that went straight.

Labuschagne and Matthew Wade didn’t last long, too, four wickets fell in the session, and India got back into the match. The second session saw Smith up the ante before Siraj delivered, and the final session saw the tail thrash important runs, setting up a grand finale for tomorrow. — TNS, agencies

Final hurrah at Fort Gabba

The highest target chased at Brisbane is 236, but that was seven decades ago! The home team hasn’t lost a game here since 1988, and it’s no surprise that it’s called Gabbatoir, where visiting teams are regularly slaughtered.

With this backdrop, the second-string Indian team can be proud of the fight they put up. Siraj had six wickets for the match. Thakur had a match haul of seven wickets, to go with his 67 at No. 8 while batting. Another debutant, Washington Sundar, picked up David Warner in the second innings.

The Indian team hasn’t stopped surprising its detractors with its spirit. It has been earning well-wishers in exponential numbers for soldiering on manfully despite losing key personnel.

If rain stays away tomorrow, there will be an official winner but certainly not a “loser”.

Scoreboard

AUSTRALIA 1st innings 369

INDIA 1st innings 336

AUSTRALIA 2nd innings

M Harris c Pant b Thakur 38

D Warner lbw b Sundar 48

M Labuschagne c Sharma b Siraj 25

S Smith c Rahane b Siraj 55

M Wade c Pant b Siraj 0

C Green c Sharma b Thakur 37

T Paine c Pant b Thakur 27

P Cummins not out 28

M Starc c Saini b Siraj 1

N Lyon c Agarwal b Thakur 13

J Hazlewood c Thakur b Siraj 9

Extras: (b 5, lb 2, nb 4, w 2) 13

Total: (all out, 75.5 overs) 294

FoW: 1-89, 2-91, 3-123, 4-123, 5-196, 6-227, 7-242, 8-247, 9-274

Bowling O M R W

Mohammed Siraj 19.5 5 73 5

T Natarajan 14 4 41 0

Washington Sundar 18 1 80 1

Shardul Thakur 19 2 61 4

Navdeep Saini 5 1 32 0

India 2nd innings

R Sharma not out 4

S Gill not out 0

Extras: (b 5, lb 2, nb 4, w 2) 13

Total: (no wicket, 1.5 overs) 4

FoW: 1-89, 2-91, 3-123, 4-123, 5-196, 6-227, 7-242, 8-247, 9-274

Bowling O M R W

M Starc 1 0 4 0

J Hazlewood 0.5 0 0 0



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