Sydney: India's wayward bowlers today conceded a massive 213 runs in the post-tea session on the penultimate day of the fourth cricket Test against Australia, leaving their team with a daunting task of saving the match on a tricky last day track tomorrow.
After gaining a 97-run first innings lead, Australia hit a quick 251 for six in 40 overs in the second innings to be 348 runs ahead. They are likely to declare at this score, leaving India to defend on the last day on a wicket on which the ball is turning significantly.
Paceman Umesh Yadav, who has had a terrible series, conceded 45 runs in just three overs, epitomising the poor bowling by India in the face of an Australian onslaught although R Ashwin took four for 105 to record his best overseas figures.
Resuming at the overnight score of 342 for five, India lost captain Virat Kohli (147) in the fifth over of the day and the danger of the Follow-on was looming large but R Ashwin (50), Wriddhiman Saha (35) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (30) batted with lot of determination to save the blushes.
The kind of purchase Ashwin got from the SCG track, India have a tough task at hand as the pitch has already offering sharp turn and countering Australian spinner Nathan Lyon, the Indians will have to bat out of their skins to survive the entire fifth day.
The highest successful run chase at the SCG is 288 for four, achieved by the hosts against South Africa in 2006. The highest run chase by a visiting team is 194 by England and that too more than a century ago in 1903.
Their eyes firmly set on a 3-0 result, Australia launched an assault on the Indian bowlers by scoring at a brisk pace right through their second innings.
Spinner Ashwin took four wickets but it did not make much of an impact as skipper Steven Smith (71) yet again haunted the Indians with his strokeful batting and opener Chris Rogers (56) lent him good support after David Warner (3) was dismissed cheaply.
Taking the baton from Smith, Joe Burns (66) and Brad Haddin (31 not out) punished the Indian bowlers disdainfully, scoring boundaries at will.
Just as they had started eating into the lead, Kumar was given out caught at first slip off Nathan Lyon (2/123) by third umpire Steven Fry even as it appeared that the ball may have hit the ground after taking a bottom-edge.
Five overs later Ashwin was caught behind off Mitchell Starc (3/106) but not before completing his 4th Test half-century off 110 balls.
Mohammad Shami (16 not out) and Umesh Yadav (4) threw their bats around to reduce the deficit below 100-runs but the latter skied a catch to keeper Brad Haddin off Ryan Harris (2/96).
For Australia, Shane Watson (2/58) and Josh Hazlewood (1/64) were the other wicket-takers while Steve Smith too rolled his arm over.
India lost skipper Virat Kohli (147) in the morning session after resuming at overnight score of 342 for 5. Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha (35), who had already put on 50 runs for the sixth wicket, began the proceedings and Kohli held the key for India but Australia got rid of him quickly.
The Indian captain had only added seven runs to his overnight score when, in the fifth over of the morning, he clipped Harris to midwicket only for Rogers to take a low catch.
Only 10 runs had been added to the total at that point and his partnership with Saha too was worth 60 only, with the follow-on target still 21 runs away.
Ashwin walked out to the crease and then batted with solidity as he and Saha put on 31 runs for the seventh wicket, in the process making sure that Australia will have to bat again to force a result.
Saha was undone by Hazlewood with a short delivery which took his glove on its way to Smith in the slips, who didn?t make any mistake this time around after two drops on day three.