Bowlers ruled the roost as Australia and India jostled for elbow room on the third day of the Boxing Day Test match. We’ll bring you live scores and commentary of the action throughout the fourth day of the first Test, with the action starting at 10.30 am AEDT.
First the Indian batsmen and later their Australian counterparts found the pitch too hot to handle, as 12 wickets fell for the addition of 247 runs on the day.
India went into the day hoping to bat Australia out of the game. Instead, they lost Rahul Dravid in the very first over to the vastly improved Ben Hilfenhaus’s out-swing.
The rest of the side crumbled like a termite-infested house when hit by a mild earthquake.
Hilfenhaus would go on to pick up three more Indian scalps, giving him the opportunity to hold the ball aloft to the cheering MCG crowd for his maiden five-wicket haul. In turn, none of the Indian batsmen, bar R Ashwin scored more than 11 in the day.
It spoke largely of the top-order’s ineptness that only Ishant Sharma (11 in 69 balls) and Ashwin (31) showed any resistance to the rampaging Australian bowlers.
VVS Laxman, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni were all dismissed to catches behind the stumps and India were bowled out for 282. If Sachin Tendulkar’s overnight dismissal was included, the side had lost eight wickets for 68.
A score of more than 300 remained elusive for India in Test matches abroad this year. They have passed it only once in the last 12 Test match innings.
Tables turned, Australia – armed with a vital 51-run lead – could have batted four sessions and ended the Indian hopes in the game.
Instead, their horrendous batting collapses since the start of this season came back to haunt the home team.
After a slow start, Dave Warner chopped one from Umesh Yadav on to his stumps.
Ed Cowan, hailed in the first innings for his precision in leaving deliveries outside the off-stump, was declared out lbw for shouldering arms to the same bowler.
Shaun Marsh chased at a wide, over-pitched delivery from Yadav and dragged it on to his stumps.
And then Michael Clarke had his castle disturbed off an in-ducker from Ishant Sharma, to leave most Australian fans with a sense of déjà vu from their Cape Town disaster earlier this year.
Fortunately for them, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey blunted the Indian pace attack and off-spinner Ashwin to a degree that captain MS Dhoni was forced into setting defensive fields.
Both got to half-centuries; Ponting made his second one of the game while Hussey overcome a shoddy first innings decision to end the day unbeaten on 79.
Ponting’s dismissal was reminiscent to Brad Haddin’s in the first innings – he was sucked into playing at a slightly deviating delivery from Zaheer Khan and only managed to get it as far as Virender Sehwag at gully.
Hussey remained unbeaten but not before he was floored in the slips by Rahul Dravid and three of his other lower-order teammates spent a combined total of just 47 balls at the crease before returning back to the pavilion.
By stumps, Australia had surged ahead by 230 runs with James Pattinson keeping Hussey’s company.
Given the manner in which the pitch has behaved, a target of 250 will be a tough cookie to crack despite Virender Sehwag’s assertion that 300 is a chaseable one.
It will be an exciting fourth day then to front up, for the quintessential Test match fan.
We will bring you the coverage throughout the fourth day from the Melbourne Cricket Ground at 10.30am AEDT, so if you’ve got an opinion, give us your thoughts on the action in the space below.