Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar strike early before spinners skittle out Australia, as India close in on series win.
After two days of fluctuating fortunes in the series decider, India finally made some decisive strikes in Australia’s second innings to take a firm control over the fourth and final Test here on Monday. On one of the best lively pitches to have been seen in India for a long time, the entire Australian batting line-up collapsed against some extraordinary speed display by Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to post a paltry total of 137, thus handing only 106 target to the hosts.
India enter Day 4 on Tuesday needing 87 more to win with a full batting complement available. Only a miraculous performance from speedy Pat Cummins, who has bowled some exemplary stuff with the old ball in limited opportunities he got so far, can save this decider now. At stumps, opener KL Rahul made his intentions clear with three cracking fours from Cummins as he and his partner Murali Vijay took the shine off the new ball by scoring 19 off six overs.
The Steve Smith-led team’s fighting qualities have sustained right to the death in this epic series, but capitulated when it mattered the most with their second innings lasting less than 54 overs. This came in the aftermath of some outstanding display of fast bowling by Umesh and Bhuvneshwar, who was playing his first Test of the series. Both of them inflicted some serious doubts in the minds of the visitors with speed and bounce. With a first innings lead of 32, the two Indian speedsters tested Australia’s top-order in their own home-like conditions.
Fiery Spell by Umesh
Umesh, in particular, looked brutal on this lively and cracking surface while his partner neutralised in-form Smith to start the rot. This Vidarbha bowler has been a revelation this series, bowling match-defining spells on many an occasion. On Day 3 too, Umesh outpaced and outsmarted his counterparts in the Aussie side, Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. The match was decided in the first 10 overs when Umesh and Bhuvneshwar picked up three vital wickets before the Aussies could erase the first innings lead, blasting out David Warner, Steve Smith and Matthew Renshaw.
Smith’s fall, the man who has dominated the ongoing series with three tons (499 runs in all), in the ninth over was devastating for his teammates sitting inside the dressing room. Indian bowlers never loosened the noose as Peter Handscomb and Glenn Maxwell were undone by Ravichandran Ashwin. An unfit Shaun Marsh never looked in any sort of comfort during his brief stay, dismissed by a rampaging Ravindra Jadeja to a short-leg catch. Maxwell was the only one to have waged the war after tea but once he departed for 45, it was only a question of whether India will be chasing 100 or less.
Jadeja, the star
The day also witnessed some outstanding performance by Jadeja with both the bat and ball. With India resuming their first innings at 248/5, still needing 52 to wipe out the deficit, Jadeja played intelligently to help them gain a vital lead.
He took on the Aussie pacers like an experienced batsman. His partnership of 96 for the seventh wicket with wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha had the decisive impact on the outcome of this match. The two not only managed to survive for the first 20 overs of the day against a relatively new ball but also infused confusion in the Aussie side who were hoping to bat sooner than later.
Jadeja made a successful review off the day’s first ball after being given caught behind off Cummins. Jadeja top-scored for India with a counter-attacking 63 off 95 balls to push his team into the lead. This left the Aussies fuming for the rest of the day.
It reached a point when the visiting skipper Smith was captured on camera as mouthing expletives like “f***ing cheat” when the video footage showed Vijay had grounded a low chance at slip off Hazlewood in the Australian second knock. It was another matter that Hazlewood failed to add any more to team’s total before departing two balls later.
Courtesy: DNA India