India stayed in control of the third Test versus Australia at Mohali, though there was no telling if they will be able to push for a result on the final day. At the PCA Stadium, they built up a decent lead and then knocked back three opposition wickets to keep their domination in this rubber intact.
India resumed at their overnight score of 283 for none with unbeaten batsmen Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay looking to heap further misery. But Australia had different plans on the day and their partnership was broken six runs later, when Dhawan handed a tame catch to silly point off Nathan Lyon. His record-breaking innings finally ended at 187 runs, and he used up only 174 balls, hitting 33 fours and two sixes. His final strike-rate stood at 107.47, as astonishing feat for a Test debutant.
Cheteshwar Pujara (1) came out to bat and returned shortly afterwards, a dubious LBW decision putting off his chances to score some easy runs on this pitch. Vijay and Sachin Tendulkar (37) then added 92 runs for the third wicket, with the runs not coming at a brisk pace unlike the previous two sessions. Such had been the audacity of Dhawan’s innings that even the mighty Tendulkar paled in comparison, and as lunch neared, the Master himself slowed down. It led to his downfall, falling to Steve Smith in what was a soft dismissal.
India went to lunch at 384 for three and on the other side of the break there was a collapse, much like Hyderabad. Australia’s pacers, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc used the new ball to good effect and did not let the Indian batsmen to run away with the game.
Vijay was the first to go, following up his hundred in the previous Test with a well-made 153 here. He faced 317 balls, hitting 19 fours and three sixes, completing his century in the first session. He now has three Test hundreds, all of them coming against Australia. Skipper MS Dhoni (4) walked in after him and walked back, as Starc accounted for the both of them, reducing the hosts to 416 for five.
At the other end, Siddle accounted for Ravindra Jadeja (8) and R Ashwin (4). Only Virat Kohli was able to put up some resistance and drag with him whatever was left of the tail. He put up 61 runs for the eighth wicket with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (18) and stayed unbeaten in the end, scoring 67 runs off 129 balls, with seven fours and one six. Moises Henriques broke Kumar’s resistance, while Siddle returned to scalp Ishant Sharma (0) and Pragyan Ojha (1), as the Indian innings came to an end. The innings ended just shy of the 500-run mark, at 499 runs, a lead of 91.
Siddle was rewarded with a five-wicket haul for his efforts, as he finished with figures of five for 71. Mitchell Starc returned two for 74, while Henriques (1-61), Smith (1-62) and Lyon (1-124) took a wicket each. Xavier Doherty went wicket-less in his 24 overs.
Australia needed to bat out nearly four sessions to draw this Test, as their hopes of winning and making a comeback in the series were dashed when the first day was washed out. Even so, their second innings faltered at the start when Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck two quick blows to remove David Warner (2) and Ed Cowan (8) cheaply. Phil Hughes came to bat at number three as skipper Michael Clarke had left the field owing to back injury and his availability for batting on day five still remains a question mark.
Hughes went on to make a gritty fifty, though he remained very uncomfortable at the crease and finished the day unbeaten on 53 runs. Smith on the other end couldn’t keep an inswinging ball from Kumar (3-25) out, and was bowled. At stumps, Australia were 75 for three, still trailing by 16 runs, with night-watchman Lyon batting on four.
India lead the four-match series 2-0.
Select quotes from the day:
Peter Siddle: "We tried altering our lengths for there is not much in the pitch. In these conditions you always have to keep experimenting and trying something new to take wickets. It has been a case of one big partnership and that has been the difference between the two sides throughout the series. We will fight tomorrow and see how things go. Obviously we cannot win the series now, but we will make sure we don’t lose on day five. We haven’t set any targets yet, for we are still 16 runs behind. We will see where we after the first session."
Murali Vijay: "We didn’t slow down at any stage of the day. This is a fourth day pitch and we wanted to bat as long as possible. We took a decent lead and have taken three wickets already. The pitch is slow and low, and there is some reverse swing, so tomorrow should be interesting. Shikhar Dhawan played a great innings and it was a privilege watching him bat from the other end. I didn’t score as quickly as him because if one batsman is scoring four-five runs an over, what is the need for other to take unnecessary risks?"
© Cricket World 2013
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