Day 4, at stumps: Australia 232/9 (Henriques 75*, Lyon 8*, Ashwin 2/90) and 380 (Clarke 130, Ashwin 7/103). India 572 (Dhoni 224, Kohli 107, Tendulkar 81, Pattinson 5/96).
India took their foot off the pedal just when they appeared to have the match in the bag, allowing Moises Henriques and Nathan Lyon to stage a late fightback and help Australia avoid an innings defeat and push the match into a fifth day.
Australia were always in trouble after MS Dhoni’s record-breaking double-hundred, and some mature batting from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, pushed the home side to 572 and a lead of 192.
Having seen Australia’s fast bowlers huff and puff with little reward – Pattinson excepted – Dhoni stuck with his spinners aside from three overs for Ishant and his decision was vindicated, helped in part by an inexperienced Australian batting line-up that was unused to the conditions presented by the Chennai pitch.
India though, should regret their habit of letting opponents off the mat with victory in sight. Dhoni nad his bowlers appeared not to have a plan to take that final wicket, allowing Henriques and Lyon to build momentum. They did a similar thing against England in Ahmedabad, where they had to come back on the final day to complete a win that should have been accomplished the previous day. Freed of the shackles of trying to save the game, Henriques solidity and Lyon’s defense effort would also have lifted the Australian dressing room, and given the rest of the batsmen a blueprint for how to combat India’s spinners.
You can read our session by session reports below and for a detailed recap, click here for our live blog of the day’s play.
Day 4, at lunch: Australia 34/1 and 380 (Clarke 130, Ashwin 7/103). India 572 (Dhoni 224, Kohli 107, Tendulkar 81, Pattinson 5/96).
MS Dhoni began the fourth day where he left off on the third – by attacking Nathan Lyon – as India built a commanding 192-run first-innings lead before unleashing their spinners on a pitch that is offering considerable turn and bounce.
Shane Watson opened instead of David Warner, the latter believed to have the quintessential Indian stomach bug, and looked to be in good touch, pulling Harbhajan Singh for six and driving R Ashwin down the ground. India’s spinners had been a touch too short, allowing the batsmen to adjust to the turn and bounce, but on the stroke of lunch Ashwin flighted one full. Watson came forward but didn’t get to the pitch of the ball, which popped up off the glove to give slip an easy catch.
Cowan had troubles of is own, surviving a close lbw shout against Ashwin, but was also able to leave a number of deliveries because the bowlers failed to bring him forward
Dhoni’s stay at the crease this morning was short-lived but packed with intent. Faced with a legside field, he reverse-swept Lyon in the very first over. In Lyon’s next over, he showed why trying to set a field to him was foolish by taking a few steps and hoisting Lyon over the sight screen as per usual, then tucking him square for a single off the last ball of the over.
It was men against boys’ type-stuff and when Dhoni lofted Pattinson one-bounce over mid-off for four, it was almost as if he was mocking Australia. But Pattinson, the only Australian bowler to look like taking wickets, ended Dhoni’s onslaught with a well directed bouncer that flicked the glove as Dhoni went for the hook, Dhoni’s 224, eight runs short of the highest ever score by a wicketkeeper in Tests, took 265 balls and contained 24 fours and six sixes. Dhoni added 140 with Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the ninth wicket, making 103 of those runs.
Dhoni’s wicket was Pattinson’s fifth – just reward for the bowler’s efforts. He finished with figures of 5/96 while Lyon ended up with 3/215.
The loss of his skipper gave Bhuvneshwar Kumar the license to adopt the role of senior batsman, and he began to turn down easy singles to protect Ishant Sharma. Eventually, he allowed Ishant to take on Lyon, emphasizing just how little a threat Australia’s lone offspinner was proving to be. Bhuvneshwar even skipped down the track to drive Lyon inside out through the covers.
Eventually Siddle got him to chip a slower delivery to Michael Clarke at mid-off but only after the last wicket paid had added a further 26 to boost India’s lead and leave Australia with much to do if they are to avoid going 1-0 in the series.
India began Australia’s slow death by spin, chiseling out Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes, David Warner and Matthew Wade in the post lunch session to reduce the visitors to 128/5, still trailing by 68 runs on the fourth day of the first Test in Chennai.
Day 4, at tea: Australia 128/5 (Clarke 31*, Henriques 5*) and 380 (Clarke 130, Ashwin 7/103). India 572 (Dhoni 224, Kohli 107, Tendulkar 81, Pattinson 5/96).
After India posted 572, not one ball was bowled by either of India’s two seamers. R Ashwin dismissed Shane Watson on the stroke of lunch, but Cowan and David Warner, batting at no 3, slowly began to settle in against Harbhajan Singh and Ranvindra Jadeja. India had strangled the runs – at one stage 6 runs came from 6 overs until Cowan swept Harbhajan to the boundary – but the pair appeared to be coming to grips with the surface.
Dhoni turned once again to Ashwin, and he rewarded him with a full delivery that Ed Cowan’s forward defense, the ball not turning as much as he anticipated, and though he was struck on the front pad, Kumar Dhamasena raised his finger. Cowan, who had made 34, was not happy with the decision, but had to go.
Phillip Hughes, who has had a torrid time in India so far, must have wished he had stayed at home after his second-innings dismissal for a duck. Jadeja got one to spit at him from a length and there was little he could do beyond fending it to slip off the glove. Clarke then stroke to the wicket with Australia 65/3.
He was immediately given a life when Kohli dropped him at short fine leg. It was a regulation chance that went into Kohli’s hands but popped out again. Clarke responded by smashing Ashwin for six over cow cowner, the pulling him for four through midwicket.
Warner and Clarke began to counter-attack, with Clarke driving Jadeja through midwicket while Warner pulled and swept Ashwin to the fence. The pair looked to be getting on top of the bowlers when Harbhajan had Warner leg-before, who was strucj on the front pad coming forward in defense. After what seemed an eternity, Dharmasena decided it would go on to hit the stumps.
Clarke continued to look comfortable, though he played and missed a few times, but Harbhajan bowled Matthew Wade with one that kept low as he attempted the sweep shot to deepen Australia’s malaise.