After holding out for a while, India’s batsmen returned to the familiar habit of fiddling with the away-going balls and began falling one by one on the last day of fourth test match at the SCG. All those flourishes were eminently avoidable at least when one is hard pressed to save a match. But if someone refuses to learn from past mistakes, nothing can be done. In the morning, Australia applied closure at their overnight score of 251/6 and India began the day with a victory chase of 349. On a worn out pitch, no adventure was possible and India were left with 90 overs, in which to play out the day and force a draw. They began well but meandered along the way after tea. It looked safe for India with the last session coming up, as they had held on nicely and put up 160/2 in the previous two sessions. With Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli out in the middle, Australia didn’t have much hope of forking out a victory at that stage. But once Vijay and Kohli fell to indiscreet shots, the Aussies applied pressure and nearly won the test match. Somehow good sense prevailed on Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar as they played out the remaining overs with caution and finished with a nerve-racking draw.
Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul came out in morning because Australia had declared at 251/6. India had a target of 349 before them but on a deteriorating pitch, no adventure was called for. After patiently playing out the first 13 overs, Rahul wanted to drive a floater from Nathan Lyon but missed the pitch to yield a gloved catch to David Warner at backward short-leg. Rohit Sharma and Vijay avoided risks afterwards and played along for the next 24 overs. The two batsmen added only 56 runs because runs were not so important. After playing 90 balls for 39 runs, Sharma probably lost patience as he tried to fiddle with a short-pitched ball from Shane Watson. He only managed an edge that went flying away to second slip, where Steven Smith brought off a great catch. But India still looked safe as Virat Kohli joined Vijay. The two batsmen carried the score to 160/2 at tea. The victory for India was still 189 runs away and they had 33 overs remaining in the last session.
Since eight wickets were in hand, the Indian batsmen might have been tempted to have a go at the bowling in ODI style. This probably prompted the slide as Vijay first nicked to the keeper in trying to score a boundary. Then in the 69th over, Kohli went in the same fashion as he tried to drive a slanting delivery from Mitchell Starc and the edge was gobbled up by Shane Watson in the slips. Raina collected his second duck of the match being trapped by Starc in front of the wicket. Three overs later Wriddhiman Saha also fell for a duck as Lyon got the LBW decision in his favor. In the 79th over, it was the turn of Ravichandran Ashwin, who fell as another LBW victim.
From a position of safety, India plunged down to the danger zone losing 5 wickets for just 39 runs. Only Rahane was left as the recognized batsman and he had the company of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The two of them needed to play out the remaining 12 overs to save India. But in an act of supreme patience, Rahane and Kumar came up with a brave match-saving partnership and saw the day for India. Rahane took the leadership role and tried to protect Kumar and whenever, Kumar faced Lyon, he was able to handle the spinner’s sharply turning deliveries with aplomb. Steven Smith tried every trick and used all his frontline bowlers in closing stages but Rahane and Kumar finished the day at 252/7. Rahane remained unbeaten on 38 and Bhuvneshwar on 20.
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