The Adelaide Test between Australia and India should be renamed the application Test for batsmen from both sides. Cheteshwar Pujara has been the only batsmen to display the technique required on this pitch. The result, a fifty to back up his hundred. Ajinkya Rahane also chipped in with a fifty but a lower-order collapse gave Australia a target of 323. The top order floundered again, but Shaun Marsh’s solidity has given the hosts a faint glimmer as they ended day 4 on 104/4, still needing 219 more runs on the final day to pull off one of the highest successful run-chases in Adelaide.
The day began promisingly for India with both Pujara and Rahane making steady progress. Australia struggled for control and penetration as they looked to contain the flow of runs. They achieved moderate success, but Rahane and Pujara displayed solid patience to ensure momentum would not stagnate. The introduction of the new ball did not give the pacers much success, but Nathan Lyon continued his great run at this venue against the Indian team.
The offspinner ended Pujara’s (71) obdurate defence with a ball that kicked off the deck and hit the glove of the batsman. Aaron Finch at short leg did the rest and that brought in Rishabh Pant, who looked to dictate terms to the opposition. On the first ball, he established his blueprint of how he would play by miscuing a lofted shot off Lyon which landed safely at long on.
Following the lunch break, Pant blasted three fours and a six off Lyon but the bowler had the last laugh when he dismissed him in the very next over. Mitchell Starc, who was struggling for control, got rid of Ashwin and that triggered a collapse. Lyon snapped Rahane (70), who hit a reverse sweep straight to backward point and Shami (0) off successive deliveries. Starc got the better of Ishant Sharma (0) as India were bowled out for 307.
With Australia facing a middling chase on a difficult wicket, they got off to a dramatic start when Finch was trapped LBW by an inswinger from Ishant. The batsman opted for the review but replays showed that the bowler had overstepped. After the jolt, both batsmen dug in and made steady progress. However, on the stroke of tea, Finch looked to defend against Ashwin but the ball lobbed off the pad and the catch was taken at short leg. Surprisingly, the batsman did not review with replays suggesting there was no bat or glove.
Immediately after the tea break, Shami induced an edge off Harris (26) and the batsman was furious with his mode of dismissal. Australia’s hopes rested on Usman Khawaja, who had produced an epic rearguard in Dubai against Pakistan. For some time, he looked solid but a poor moment of judgment resulted in a miscued lofted shot off Ashwin and Khawaja (8) was caught by Rohit Sharma at deep extra cover.
Peter Handscomb (14) also made sluggish progress but when he miscued a short ball from Shami to be caught at midwicket, it looked like Australia would capitulate. However, Marsh, who notched up his first double-digit score in Tests since the Johannesburg game against South Africa in March 2018, stepped up and ensured there would be no further hiccups. The left-hander, along with Travis Head, will be hoping to achieve something no Australian team has done in 116 years. In 1902, Australia chased down 315, the highest fourth innings total at that time to win the contest by four wickets. Marsh and Head would be aiming to achieve this once in a hundred years feat at this venue.
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