Feroz Khan/Zeenews Sports
Adelaide: Team India is staring at another Test defeat and a successive overseas series whitewash as their batsmen submitted meekly to the Australians in pursuit of a humungous total of 500 runs. At stumps on Day 4, India were 166/6, still 334 runs behind the target.
It was an all too familiar sight for the Indian cricket team fans as yet again, the once top ranked Test side was being outplayed on foreign soil even as the conditions were best suited for a respected and fighting draw, if not for an outright win. Their most potent weapon has failed them repeatedly on this tour and Friday was no aberration.
Michael Clarke declared the Australian innings few minutes into the second session when their lead stood at 499 runs. Clarke, not impressed at the pace of scoring rate of the Australian pair on crease, infuriatingly signaled Ponting (60*) and Haddin (11*) to return and declared the second innings at 167/5.
Long before making the declaration, Clarke, along with Ponting, began the day on a cautious note seeing off early overs of the day quietly. However, the pair soon began hitting boundaries as they looked set to achieve the lead of 500 runs before the lunch break.
Ponting hit Ishant Sharma for two back to back boundaries towards the third man region to drive the lead past 400 runs. In the process, he also completed 500 runs in the current series—the fifth time in his career and the second time against India. They continued in the same tone before Clarke got a faint outside edge to hand Saha a simple catch behind stumps after being beaten by Yadav’s pace. He, however, didn’t think so and clearly wasn’t happy with umpire’s decision. He departed after scoring 37 (71b, 4X4).
Meanwhile, Ponting completed yet another fifty to continue reveling in the sublime form of yore he has picked progressively in the current series against India after being under severe scrutiny.
Hussey (15) was the second man to fall on the day as Ishant Sharma finally got a wicket against his name in the Test after trapping him in front of the wickets.
Three overs after the lunch break, Australia declared their innings, setting India an improbable target of 500 runs to chase in the remaining five sessions of the fourth and final Test.
Indian chase began on a familiar note, losing Gambhir early into the innings when the southpaw edged Ryan Harris to Haddin behind the wickets to depart after scoring a mere 3.
Rahul Dravid, who is having a torrid time Down Under, joined his captain in pursuit of a mammoth total.
For a brief moment, Sehwag was at his destructive best-slamming boundaries with impunity without caring for his wicket. Hopes started rising high as the opener completed a brisk fifty in just 36 deliveries. Harmony was restored when Sehwag was caught at point after he attempted a slog off Lyon’s full toss. His innings ended at 62 (53b, 12X4).
No fairytale at Adelaide
Sachin Tendulkar joined Rahul Dravid in the middle at a susceptible point when India were out of their openers and needed to someone to stay in the middle.
Tendulkar opened his account with a boundary towards mid wicket area. However, he soon went in to a shell that eventually led to his dismissal. Sachin, as often has been the case, isn’t at his best when he gets defensive. He tried defending a Lyon delivery but ended up edging it to short leg ending another tour without a century. The Adelaide crowd gave a standing ovation to the little master who probably has played his last Test in Australia.
Laxman (35) also fell to a brilliant captaincy decision by Clarke as he was caught at short midwicket off Lyon’s delivery, becoming his third victim of the innings. It might as well be his last Test innings ever.
Moment of Madness
In the penultimate over of the day Virat Kohli’s strange decision to go for a quick single led to his dismissal. His bizarre decision of saving night-watchman Ishant Sharma from facing the last over of the day proved to be self-destructive as Hilfenhaus’ direct hit at the stumps caught him short of the crease.
Another strange decision was sending Ishant Sharma as a night-watchman— purportedly as a cover for number six Wriddhiman Saha. So, Kohli in order to save Sharma from facing the tense over, decided to take a risky single to keep strike and thus lost his wicket.
To sum it all, it was a day that augured well for Australia as apart from gathering a huge lead, the Indian batsmen continued with their dismal performances and by the end of the fourth day, it is all but certain that India will be suffering their second consecutive overseas Test series whitewash. Day 5 will just be a formality as Australians would be looking to wipe out the Indian tail early to register 4-0 series victory.