It is not much different than what Virat Kohli dealt with at Adelaide. Scoring in excess of 300 runs on last day with only a couple of batsmen performing; is an uphill task. Regardless of the oft-repeated fashion statement that the cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties, scoring 300+ has never been easy on last day, if one looked at test-cricket history. A close look at India’s first innings performance would reveal that although they had lost only 3 wickets after crossing 400, the last seven India batsmen could only add 56 runs during the day before the innings caved in. Mohammad Shami was the top scorer with 12 and there were three ducks. Such fragility and lack of depth give Australia an upper hand on the final day.
India began day 4 at 462/8 with Shami as the overnight not out batsman. Since Kohli had fallen off the last ball of the previous day, the umpires applied closure and the new man Umesh Yadav walked up to the crease with Shami only next day. Johnson had four balls left from Sunday night and of his second ball of the day, he took the wicket of Umesh Yadav, who simply guided an edge off a short rising delivery to the wicketkeeper. Johnson completed his work of the day in his next over with Shami yielding a catch in the second slip. Except Ashwin, who was caught and bowled by Harris, every other Indian batsman fell in the cordon bounded by the wicketkeeper and the point. India’s middle order batsmen and tail-enders had nothing to offer and it looked as if the team was satisfied with the performance of three of their top batsmen and the rest of them had no need to do anything. Losing the last 7 wickets for just 56 runs should be considered as the poorest batting performance even if India finished at 465/10. In the end, the quick slide on Monday yielded a vital 65-run lead to the Australians. India’s new batsman KL Rahul had a poor outing on his debut as he only emulated what others did.
When Australia came out the second time, the task for them was easy. All they needed to ensure was a stiff last-day target for a team, whose batsmen had been seen to fall to swing on the off side or yielding edges to short rising balls. Chris Rogers and David Warner began solidly and put on 57 for the first wicket. The Aussie batsmen batted briskly and scored their first 100 runs in about 25 overs. Warner made 40 and Rogers scored 69 before both of them fell to R Ashwin. India had the solace of taking captain Smith’s wicket early. Smith fell to a poor delivery from Umesh Yadav, that was drifting further away on the leg side as Smith shaped for a flick to the boundary but the faintest touch that he got cost him his wicket. Rahane was in the perfect place and he took a nice-looking diving catch on his right. After Smith left, Shaun Marsh held the innings together and though the wickets kept falling, there was no slowdown in scoring rate. Every batsman contributed in his own way and Australia finished the day at 261/7.
Indian bowlers did well to check the Australians from mounting any assault. But already, they have a lead in excess of 300 runs and the declaration may come in the first hour itself on Tuesday. Although it turned out to be a good day for India’s bowlers but since the team couldn’t capitalize on Kohli and Rahane’s solid foundation, such bowling performance doesn’t add much value. India will be under heavy pressure on the last day and much will depend on how their batsmen perform in their second innings.