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Tuesday November 30, 2021

Australia-India Test hangs in the balance

By AFP
January 17, 2021

BRISBANE: The deciding fourth Test between Australia and India in Brisbane hung in the balance Saturday after a massive thunderstorm caused play to be abandoned following the tea break on the second day.

The Gabba was saturated during the storm, which began during the tea break, and while the ground drained quickly, the umpires decided the outfield was too wet to allow play to continue.

India will resume on Sunday at 62 for two, 307 runs behind Australia’s first innings total of 369, with Cheteshwar Pujara on eight alongside skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who was on two.

Australia had earlier claimed the vital wicket of Rohit Sharma 20 minutes before tea to seize the momentum. Sharma had been in full flow, striking 44 stylish runs from 74 deliveries with six boundaries.

But with the score on 60 for the loss of opener Shubman Gill (7), Sharma threw his wicket away when he charged off-spinner Nathan Lyon, only managing to sky a ball to Mitchell Starc at deep mid-on. The Australian off-spinner is playing his 100th Test match and is closing in on 400 wickets — Sharma was his 397th.

“I had a couple of plans for Rohit,” Lyon said.

“Obviously he’s a world-class player, so I just wanted to make sure I was bowling my best ball, and not try to worry too much about what the batters are doing,” he added.

He said the wicket was different from a normal Gabba strip. “It is a lot drier than it usually is,” Lyon said.

“It was probably more like a day three wicket (on day one) and there’s a nice crack outside the off-stump.

“I’m trying to aim at that and hopefully bring in both edges and see how we go.”

Pat Cummins had made the early breakthrough for the hosts when Shubman Gill got a thick edge and Steve Smith took a sharp catch at second slip.

After resuming at 274 for five on Saturday morning, Australia lost five wickets in the first session including the overnight batsmen Tim Paine and Cameron Green.

Paine and Green had started aggressively on a flat batting wicket and looked to push the score beyond 400.

But shortly after reaching his half-century, Paine chased a wide ball from Shardul Thakur (3-94) and edged to Sharma at third slip to leave Australia 311 for six.

Green survived a sharp chance on 45 off Washington Sundar but two runs later, the off-spinner got his revenge when he bowled the Australian number six for 47.

Thakur, playing only his second Test, took his third wicket when he trapped Cummins leg-before for two to leave the hosts struggling at 315 for seven.

However, Lyon and Starc went on the attack and the score raced to 354 before Sundar bowled Lyon around his legs after his quickfire 24 off 22 deliveries.

When T Natarajan bowled Josh Hazlewood to end the innings, the inexperienced Indian attack had completed an impressive comeback on a hot and humid Brisbane morning. The Indian attack features two players making their debut — Natarajan (3-78) and Sundar (3-89) — while their most experienced bowler, Mohammad Siraj, is playing just his third Test following a raft of injures to their first-choice bowlers.

“I think it was a great effort from both the newcomers,” Sharma said.

“Obviously playing against Australia in Australia is never going to be that easy.

“They (the bowlers) showed a lot of character. They were right in the game and understood what the team expects them to do.”

To compound India’s problems, Navdeep Saini was only able to bowl 7.5 overs on the first day before he broke down with a groin injury.

Score Board

Australia won toss

Australia 1st innings (overnight 274-5)

D. Warner c Sharma b Siraj 1

M. Harris c Sundar b Thakur 5

M. Labuschagne c Pant b Natarajan 108

S. Smith c Sharma b Sundar 36

M. Wade c Thakur b Natarajan 45

C. Green b Sundar 47

*T. Paine c Sharma b Thakur 50

P. Cummins lbw Thakur 2

M. Starc not out 20

N. Lyon b Sundar 24

J. Hazlewood b Natarajan 11

Extras (b4, lb5, nb6, w5) 20

Total (all out, 115.2 overs) 369

Fall: 1-4 (Warner), 2-17 (Harris), 3-87 (Smith), 4-200 (Wade), 5-213 (Labuschagne), 6-311 (Paine), 7-313 (Green), 8-315 (Cummins), 9-354 (Lyon), 10-369 (Hazlewood)

Bowling: Siraj 28-10-77-1 (1w), Natarajan 24.2-3-78-3 (6nb), Thakur 24-6-94-3, Saini 7.5-2-21-0, Sundar 31-6-89-3, Sharma 0.1-0-1-0

India 1st innings

R. Sharma c Starc b Lyon 44

S. Gill c Smith b Cummins 7

C. Pujara not out 8

*A. Rahane not out 2

Extras (nb1) 1

Total (2 wickets: 26 overs) 62

Fall: 1-11 (Gill), 2-60 (Sharma)

To bat: M. Agarwal, R. Pant, W. Sundar, S. Thakur, N. Saini, M. Siraj, T. Natarajan

Bowling: Starc 3-1-8-0, Hazlewood 8-4-11-0 (1nb), Cummins 6-1-22-1, Green 3-0-11-0, Lyon 6-2-10-1

Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (AUS), Paul Wilson (AUS)