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PICS: Australia vs India, 4th Test, Day 4

Last updated on: January 18, 2021 13:57 IST
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Mohammed Siraj is congratulated by his India teammates after dismissing Mitchell Starc.

IMAGE: Mohammed Siraj is congratulated by his India teammates after dismissing Mitchell Starc on Day 4 of the fourth Test against Australia, at the Gabba, in Brisbane, on Monday. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur produced another inspirational effort in adverse circumstances, but India was set a challenging target of 328 by Australia as the fourth Test was poised for exhilarating finish going into the fifth day, at the Gabba, in Brisbane, on Monday.

 

The target is a bit tricky and India’s batsmen should get a fair idea whether to go for it by lunch on Day 5.

This was after Siraj and Thakur combined to share nine wickets while dismissing Australia for 294 in their second innings.

Siraj (19.5-5-73-5) punched way above his weight with a maiden five-wicket haul, but couldn't prevent Australia from posting an imposing target for his team in only 75.5 overs of the second innings batting.

Pat Cummins  hit two fours and a six in a breezy 28 to boost Australia's total.

IMAGE: Pat Cummins hit two fours and a six in a breezy, unbeaten 28 to boost Australia's second innings total. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

At stumps, India were four for no loss, with Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill at the crease.

The highest target chased at Brisbane is 236, and that was seven decades ago, which is an indicator why this Australian ground can be equated with Fort Knox. The home team hasn't lost a game here since 1988.

Thakur's dream Test match also got better with figures of 4/61 and a match haul of seven wickets. The most poignant moment was his apparent joy when he took the catch of Josh Hazlewood to help Siraj pip him to the coveted five-for landmark.

Mohammed Siraj celebrates after dismissing Josh Hazlewood and picking his fifth wicket.

IMAGE: Mohammed Siraj celebrates after dismissing Josh Hazlewood and picking his fifth wicket. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

As Siraj showed that scuffed red kookaburra acknowledging the 957 people in the stands on the first working day of the week, the most generous applause came from his partner in crime, who walked a foot behind him clapping with gusto.

It was the kind of day that Test aficionados wait eagerly -- ebbs and flows keeping everyone on the edge of their seats.

The possibility of rain adds to the excitement and the changing weather did affect the contours of Australia skipper Tim Paine's facial expressions which exhibited relief and despair in equal measures.

Among the two captains, Paine is supposed to be the enforcer but this Indian team hasn't stopped surprising its detractors with a spirit that has made this series one of the finest played in recent times.

Tim Paine, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins leave the field as a rain delay is called during Day 4.

IMAGE: Tim Paine, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins leave the field as rain forces an early end to play on Day 4. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

If Weather Gods don't decide to play the boss, there will be an official winner but certainly not a "loser".

This is the first Indian team which has earned well-wishers in exponential numbers for soldiering on manfully without any complaints.

A bowling attack with less than four-Test experience (if Thakur's debut is discounted) got 20 wickets without being over-expensive.

Yes, a Mohammed Shami or Jasprit Bumrah's experience would have been invaluable but their absence showed that in terms of temperament, India's next batch of pacers are game-ready.

Session 1:

Shardul Thakur is complimented by his India teammates after dismissing Marcus Harris.

IMAGE: India pacer Shardul Thakur is complimented by teammates after dismissing Marcus Harris in the first session on Day 4. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

India’s rookie bowling attack was back in its element as Australia were restricted to 149 for four in their second innings at lunch, after a brisk 89-run opening stand between David Warner and Marcus Harris, on the penultimate day of the fourth Test.

Going into the break, Australia's lead was 182 runs.

The match is tantalizingly poised with Tim Paine's men desperate for a sporting declaration, factoring in the inclement weather and resistance shown by the Indian batters during the series.

David Warner walks back after being trapped leg before wicket by Washington Sundar.

IMAGE: David Warner walks back after being trapped leg before wicket by Washington Sundar. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

The left-handed duo of Warner (48 off 75 balls) and Harris (38 off 82 balls) scored at a quick clip before both departed in successive overs, bowled by Shardul Thakur (8-1-28-1) and Washington Sundar (11-1-38-1), who also checked the run-flow after initial pressure on the visitors at the start of the day.

Marnus Labuschagne (25 off 22 balls) maintained the tempo before Mohammed Siraj (11-3-37-2), after an indifferent first spell, kept one up and the edge flew to Rohit Sharma at second slip.

Matthew Wade (0)'s leg-side tickle was snapped by Rishabh Pant as the home team slipped to 123 for 4 from 89 for 0.

Mohammed Siraj celebrates after dismissing Matthew Wade.

IMAGE: Mohammed Siraj celebrates after dismissing Matthew Wade. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Steve Smith (28 batting, 38 balls) also scored at a quick clip during the session.

Warner (6x4) and Harris (8x4) hit 14 boundaries between themselves as Siraj and Thangarasu Natarajan (8-2-29-0) erred in length during the first hour.

Finally, it was a sharp bouncer from Thakur that ended Harris's entertaining knock. The batsman tried to sway away but the ball brushed his gloves on the way to Pant behind the stumps.

In the very next over, Warner, who was in sight of his first half-century of the series, was rapped on the backfoot by Washington, who bowled one that kept straight and had the opener cramped for room on the back-foot while going for the cut-shot.

Steve Smith went on the offensive from the start of his innings

IMAGE: Steve Smith went on the offensive from the start of his innings. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Labuschagne hit five boundaries and was in no mood to drop the tempo before Siraj bowled the ball of the session.

Having been too short during the first spell, the delivery was on off-stump and moved a shade in, which forced the first innings centurion to just push at the delivery.

For the record, the highest fourth innings chase at the Gabba is 236 by the West Indies, way back in 1951.

Australia will be looking at a total which the Indian team finds enticing enough to chase and not put the shutters down and play for a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Session 2:

Shardul Thakur celebrates after dismissing Cameron Green on Day 4 of the fourth Test against Australia at the Gabba, in Brisbane, on Monday.

IMAGE: Shardul Thakur celebrates after dismissing Cameron Green on Day 4 of the fourth Test against Australia at the Gabba, in Brisbane, on Monday. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Steve Smith's attacking half-century swelled Australia's overall lead to 276 even as India's greenhorn bowlers put their best foot forward during the first two sessions.

At tea, taken an over early because of rain, Australia were 243 for 7, aiming to set a target which India might find enticing enough to chase on a Gabba track which is starting to misbehave slightly with a few cracks opening at one end.

Steve Smith waves to the dressing room after getting to 50.

IMAGE: Steve Smith waves to the dressing room after getting to 50. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

The highest fourth innings chase at the ground is 236 by the West Indies, way back in 1951.

Among the Indian pacers, Mohammed Siraj produced a well-disguised short ball that grew on Smith (55 off 74 balls), having him caught at gully. He had earlier produced the ball of the innings to dismiss Marnus Labuschagne (25 off 22 balls) in the first session of the day.

Tim Paine bats during Day 4.

IMAGE: Tim Paine bats during Day 4. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Along with Shardul Thakur (3/41 in 14.1 overs), easily the best Indian bowler in the second innings, Siraj (15-5-42-3) got the wickets but Australians scored at a good rate (3.67), having factored in the inclement weather.

If rain doesn't cause further interruption, the Australians have 137 overs across four sessions to enforce a result.

Groundsmen cover the pitch as rain halts play just before tea.

IMAGE: Groundsmen cover the pitch as rain halts play just before tea. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Two engrossing sessions of high quality Test match cricket were on display on Monday with Australian openers David warner (48 off 75 balls) and Marcus Harris (38 off 82 balls) providing a rollicking start.

This was followed by the inexperienced Indian bunch coming back to effect a mini collapse by taking four wickets.

The second session also witnessed fortunes swing as Smith attacked the Indian bowlers, found catches being dropped before three wickets kept the visitors' spirits high. 

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