Bowlers put India on course for series victory
Dharamsala, March 27 (PTI): India were on the verge of a riveting series victory after an incisive performance from the bowlers saw them skittle out Australia for a paltry 137 in their second innings on the third day of the fourth and final cricket Test here.
Set a target of 106, India were 19 for no loss at stumps, needing another 87 runs to win the series inside four days.
KL Rahul (13 batting) got three boundaries off Pat Cummins’ opening over to set the tone for the home side.
Ravindra Jadeja, with an all-round show (63 and 3/24 in 18 overs), was the star performer but Ravichandran Ashwin (3/29 in 13.5 overs) and Umesh Yadav (3/29 in 10 overs) played their part to perfection as the Australian second innings was wrapped up in 53.5 overs.
There were two important factors that tilted the game in India’s favour on the day; a half-century by Jadeja, which enabled India to get to 332 in the first innings and then Australia’s premier batsman, Steve Smith’s poor shot selection off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Glenn Maxwell (45) and Peter Handscomb (18) showed positive intent with a 56-run partnership for the fourth wicket but on a pitch that provided both turn and bounce, it was never going to be easy for them to survive.
Matthew Wade (25 off 90 balls) was at his defensive best, dead batting anything and everything that came his way, but that too was not going to be enough as wickets tumbled at the other end.
Bhuvneshwar, who till the post-lunch session had a horrible Test match, for once got lucky when Smith tried to pull a short delivery only to get a bottom edge that knocked back his off-stump.
While he was at the crease, Smith looked in ominous touch having hit three boundaries in his 17 before his dismissal, which left him one short of a series aggregate of 500 runs.
It was Umesh, India’s best fast bowler in recent times, who looked menacing on a bouncy pitch troubling both the Australian openers.
After a few bouncers, Umesh cleverly pitched it up to get enough away movement that kissed David Warner’s (6) bat on the way to the safe hands of keeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Renshaw survived a drop at third slip when a thickish edge off a Bhuvneshwar delivery was grassed by Karun Nair, who was standing at the third slip.