Mohali: India were off to one of the worst starts, losing the fabled top order dramatically as the Australian speedsters ripped through the defence of the first four batsmen. At the end, the scorecard read 55/4 at stumps on Day 4, a day of bounty hunting for the bowlers from both the squads.
Opener Gautam Gambhir was given out LBW to a debatable decision by umpire Billy Bowden even before a single run could be registered on the scoreboard. Rahul Dravid, Suresh Raina and Virender Sehwag followed suit and made mess of a brilliant opportunity thrown to them, as the carnage at Mohali had made Australia feel one of the most brutal assault on their line-up, dismissing the outfit at a total of 192 runs.
With a lead of just 215 runs for the Indian batsmen, Dhoni would be smacking his lips for drawing first blood in the two Test rubber, but it was not to be and now the hosts fight to save the tie.
Indian bowlers made a game out of a dull looking Test with a total of six wickets by the afternoon of the day. Their formidable skills with the cherry saw Michael Hussey and Marcus North walking the long way back to the pavilion without any significant contributions with the bat.
Ishant was the leader of the pack with three scalps while Harbhajan and Pragyan got two apiece. Zaheer Khan too got into the act and got three victims for his tight line and length in the form of Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Nathan Hauritz. Zaheer got a superb 8-wicket haul from the match.
Delhi speedster Ishant Sharma struck gold, dispatching dangerman Shane Watson (56) and skipper Ricky Ponting in quick time, giving India a fighting chance in the morning session of the penultimate day. The onslaught continued with the fall of vice-captain Michael Clarke for a score of four runs, as he was caught behind the wicket by MS Dhoni.
Opener Simon Katich fell to Pragyan Ojha’s wily web of spin at a score of thirty seven runs. His failure to build-on a strong platform would surely irk him. Harbhajan Singh took the window of opportunity and converted it into a double bonus for himself.
The turn of things in the morning was dramatic as Australia had started their second innings with the duo of Watson and Simon Katich taking the total past the first fifty runs in less than seven overs. Watson was in a particularly flashy mode, hitting boundaries and using the morning energy to his maximum.