Review - India vs Australia - Day 4.

With all that had happened on the first three days of the second test between India and Australia, test cricket was more than just prepared to witness another scintillating climax to a test match. Low scores. Turning track. Booming Bengaluru crowd. Home team 1-0 down. Things appeared to be in place for a nail-biter. Such is the grandeur of this format in the world of cricket.
All eyes were glued on the dependable duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. Both of them started cautiously for the track did not allowed them to dictate terms at the inception. For the first seven overs with the old ball, Australia did not cause any harm. As a result of which, Steve Smith took the new ball and introduced his lethal weapon in Mitchell Starc into the attack for the first time in the day. On the second ball that Starc bowled, Rahane drove him on the up to complete his 11th and one of the most crucial half-century.
Hazlewood shared the new ball from the other end but it was Starc who provided Aussies with the all important breakthrough of Rahane (52) in the 85th over. Rahane was adjourned not out by the umpire Nigel Llong but DRS got the better of him. Karun Nair walked out next but walked back after facing a lone delivery. The local boy did not help himself by offering a loose shot to a full in-swinging delivery by one of the leading fast bowlers in the world.
Hazlewood joined his senior pro in the next over. A delivery with extra bounce lobbed of Pujara's (92) bat to Mitchell Marsh at gully. Ravichandran Ashwin (4) followed him in the same over. In what was an unnecessary shot, Hazlewood got rid off Umesh Yadav in his next over.
Wriddhiman Saha scored a four and a six in Starc's over and was India's sole hope who would take the lead past 200. Ishant Sharma also applied himself beautifully in the middle. The duo batted for some 10 overs before O'Keefe drew the last blood. Ishant (6) was the last man to be dismissed. He and Saha (20*) added 16 vital runs to India's lead, leaving the visitors with a target of 188.
Time was the biggest irony in this match. With five sessions remaining, run rate was never an issue for Australia. But neither was going into a shell an option for them. The pressure of not scoring would have eventually lead to their downfall.

Ashwin (269) has surpassed Bishan Singh Bedi (266) as the fifth-highest
wicket-taker for India.
David Warner and Matt Renshaw have complemented each other in this tour so far. A solid start was the need of the hour. Australia scored 22-0 in the first four overs. Just like they picked the first wicket with the new ball on the 27th delivery, so did India. Renshaw (5) gloved an Ishant Sharma delivery to Saha. Just when Warner and Smith looked optimistic about batting, the Australian vice-captain missed a sweep against Ashwin. Even the DRS failed to save him.
With the openers back in the pavilion within the first 10 overs, the onus was now on captain Smith to steer the ship. Umesh Yadav continued his golden form with the wicket of Shaun Marsh (9) in the 15th over. The ball was clearly missing the off stump but Marsh hesitantly did not opt for the review. Was it because Warner had already consumed one? Who knows!
Peter Handscomb joined his captain in the middle. What Australia most desperately needed was a partnership but the fall of regular wickets hindered their chances. With wickets falling at uniform intervals, India was making successful inroads into the road of comeback in this series. The next one to bite the dust was Smith (28). For all you know, it was the kind of delivery which would have dismissed him so early. Yadav banged a short of a length delivery which scarcely bounced and hit Smith bang above his boot and bang in front of the stumps.
Jadeja beat Mitchell Marsh's inside edge in front of the stumps in the next over which was turned down by the umpire. India took the review but had to adhere to the umpire's call. As many as five boundaries were scored in the next three overs which both released the pressure off Australia and brought the target under 100 runs. But Ashwin had other plans. In the next over, Marsh (13) gave an easy catch to Nair at short leg off Ashwin. To make matters worse, Ashwin dismissed Matthew Wade (0) out caught behind leaving them 101-6 at Tea.
It was as if the flurry of wickets was not meant to be stopped. Ashwin got rid of Starc (1) in the second over post Tea. Jadeja was amongst the wickets as well when he bowled O'Keefe (2) with a ball that kept low. With Handscomb (24) being caught behind and Lyon (2) caught by the bowler, Ashwin completed his 25th five-for in test cricket and also sealed the match for India. Australia fell short by 75 runs.
Any follower of Physics must have loved the match for it swung like a pendulum right through the four days. To talk of the winning team, it was another example of the team performing as a whole. Lokesh Rahul was adjourned player-of-the-match for his half-centuries in both the innings. At 120-4, it required some noteworthy efforts from Pujara and Rahane to come to the aid of the team. The Indian quicks bowled their heart out in both the innings. Jadeja's figures of 8-5-3-1 in the second innings reveal a whole different story of how he contributed to the team's win.
At 1-1 and with two more test matches to be played, there is still a lot to look for in this series. The fact that the Ranchi test will start on the 16th provides a lot of time for the players to recover and come back fresh and hard.


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