After posting a massive first innings total of 526, India find themselves in a challenging position in their second innings with the objective of saving the fourth and final Test on the final day.
India had to bat 17 overs before the close of play on the fourth day in which they lost the wicket of the makeshift opener – Irfan Pathan, who was out lbw to Johnson without scoring. The visitors have put on 45 on the board with Virender Sehwag (31 from 54 with 1 four and a six) and Rahul Dravid (11 from 43) being the unbeaten batsmen. This was after Australia were bowled out for 563. Virender Sehwag was absolutely lucky in his stay as he was put down at slips by Michael Clarke and then wasn’t given out lbw, this was both against the hostile Brett Lee. But Sehwag’s presence today and tomorrow will help the tourists in getting some vital runs.
The Aussies resumed the fourth day’s play looking to get past India’s first innings total. The out of form Ponting and Clarke, both registered their first centuries of this series. For Ponting, it was his 34th hundred while Michael Clarke notched up his 6th one. Both were also the overnight batsmen for the Aussies as they made the Indian bowlers to suffer the entire morning session. Eventually Ponting did get back to the pavilion after chopping one onto his stumps off Sehwag, but that was not before he got 140 (from 266 balls with 10 fours). That ended a huge partnership of 210 which lasted more than 65 overs!
After the partnership was broken for the fourth wicket, India started to find some wickets relatively quickly. That was because of the reverse swinging ball and a lion hearted spell from Ishant Sharma. First, he got Michael Clarke (118 from 243 with 8 fours) to edge one away going delivery which was held magnificently by Laxman in the slip cordon and then Symonds (30 from 63 with 5 fours) played onto his stumps with an angled bat. In between these two wickets was the one of Adam Gilchrist, who probably played his last test innings ever. Gilly looked to get on cracking but one smashing shot off his found the hands of Sehwag at short extra covers. Gilchrist lasted only 18 deliveries making 14. He was dismissed by Irfan Pathan which was the left armer’s 100th test victim!
India didn’t take a long time to bowl out the Aussies after removing all the frontline batsmen. They also made sure that the Aussies didn’t blast away to a big lead. Aussies were bowled out after 181 overs of hard work from the Indian bowlers which gave the home side a slender lead of 37. Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma, the only two pace bowlers for Kumble picked up three wickets each. The pick of the bowlers along with Ishant Sharma was Virender Sehwag with 2 for 51.
The final day’s play has an opportunity for the Aussies to bowl the Indians cheaply to win the match. And for the Indians, the only possibility is to bat for enough time and get enough on the board to ensure a draw.