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by Chetan Narula Friday 9 January 2015
The fourth Test between Australia and India in Sydney took a dramatic turn on day four and day five promises an intense finish.
First, the visitors were bowled out for 475 runs in their first innings conceding a 97-run lead. Then the hosts took them to cleaners with Steve Smith and Joe Burns hitting quick-fire half-centuries as India gave away 251 for six in just 40 overs.
Australia now lead by 348 runs and an overnight declaration could see an intense run-chase on a day five pitch.
"We definitely leaked a lot more runs than we would have liked to," said Ravichandran Ashwin on Friday, after taking four for 105.
"They played a few good shots. We started off pretty poorly with the new ball as well and definitely the game could have been different.
"The way we applied pressure, the way the ball was spinning, the way it was coming out for me and it could have been a lot different.
"It is still pretty decently poised for tomorrow. They definitely have an ace up their sleeve, but we will have to see how it goes. We batted pretty well in Adelaide.
"When I batted there weren’t many devils in the wicket. I definitely found it a little hard to score but it’s a new-ball wicket," he added.
Ashwin scored his fourth Test fifty before his bowling effort in the second innings and as such helped delayed the Australian attack during the afternoon session.
"When I was batting I was looking to bat as long as possible, as deep as possible. I wanted to eat into as many overs as possible and make sure if at all a team won it was going to be India.
"Fortunately or unfortunately the game is very well poised now. You don’t know where it will go and it depends on what strategy they adopt,” he said.
Burns made 66 in just 39 balls as Australia scored their runs at a rate of 6.28 per over.
"I am not too sure about the declaration. I am only a second gamer and I don't get too much say in those decisions. We will leave that up to the skipper," Burns said after the day’s play.
"Playing like that was a lot of fun. It was just nice to contribute to the team and get us in a good position.
"It is a massive opportunity to come out and win a Test match for Australia tomorrow and that is a position you want to be contributing to the team.
"It is pleasing to get a fifty in both innings but I want to come back tomorrow and win the Test match for Australia," he added.
Smith was also instrumental in the way Australia scored in the final session as more than 200 runs came up. He struck his second fifty of the series in addition to the four hundreds and went past Sir Don Bradman’s tally of 715 runs scored in a single Test series against India way back in 1947-48."I am a massive fan of Steve. To lead from the front the way he has and to do it in all sorts of situations, it is great just to sit in the change rooms with him, and watch.
"When I get the opportunity to bat with him I certainly do learn a lot off him with his plans and his mindset. And I try and take that into my batting.
"There aren’t too many better batsmen in the world at the moment. It is great to watch," he said.
The question for the final day will be how much the Australians will leave for India to get and in how many overs.
There is also the question of the fifth day pitch and, with Ashwin getting good purchase Nathan Lyon will also come into play.
"The wicket is spinning and it will only get harder to bat on as the game goes on. We will come out tomorrow and I am sure we will create 10 opportunities.
"It is just a matter of taking all 10 with the spin in the wicket and it will play a major factor. We saw some variable bounce and reverse swing, but spin will play a major part," Burns said.
Indeed Australia have a mammoth lead but they haven’t made any move regarding declaration just yet. But they have a sizeable lead even if India are set a target first thing on day five.
"It’s a wicket where you apply and bat it is hard to get you out," Ashwin said. "You can put a price on your wicket."
"We are here to play positive cricket, we are here to win games. If presented with an opportunity to go for a victory, we will try to go for it as sensibly as possible and see where we can go.
"We are here to win games of cricket and there is no two ways to go about it," Ashwin signed off.© Cricket World 2015