At the end of Day 3’s play in the second Test between India and Australia, India batting looked comfortable and steady with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane maintaining the order of things. In fact, they ensured India didn’t surrender and wiped out Australia’s lead to take their own. At close, India led by 126 runs with both batsmen staying defiantly in the middle.
Move to morning of the fourth day, specifically the 85th over of the India inning with Pujara and Rahane riding on some near dismissals and nervous moments due to either a loose shot or uneven bounce. The defiance and the effort comes crashing down with Rahane caught leg before by Mitchell Starc. The ball pitches full and straight and is going on to hit the stumps after Australia opt to take the review. Starc doesn’t look entirely convinced but Steve Smith does. And the skipper is correct in his assessment. The gritty stand comes to a close after putting up 118 runs.
Next ball, Karun Nair gets a peach of a delivery right up with Starc getting the ball to jab back in and an inside edge takes away the middle stump for a golden duck.
Next over, Pujara who is now on 92, after glancing one down the leg side for a four, is dismissed by Josh Hazlewood. The ball is short of length, hits a crack on the pitch and rises on to get the shoulder of the bat to lob up and fall safely in Mitchell Marsh’s hands at gully.
On comes R Ashwin who starts with a boundary on the second ball but his stay in the middle is stopped the very next delivery. Ashwin produces a poor shot and pays for his mistake to be bowled and hands Hazlewood a five-for in the process.
Next Hazlewood over and Umesh Yadav walks back after another tame shot from an India batsman. Looks to drive and gets the higher part of the bat and lobs an easy catch to mid-off.
This series has seen India collapse one inning after the other. Be it Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon or now the quick duo of Starc and Hazlewood. In three overs, India go from four-down to nine-down.
Ishant Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha put together invaluable 16 runs for the final wicket but can’t do more and India fold for 274 runs to hand Australia a target of 188 runs that looks good enough to be chased if visitors stay patient and apply themselves – something they did in the opening innings.