The finale of the ongoing Border-Gavasakar Trophy at Dharamsala has turned out to be every bit a closely-fought contest that it was expected to be, and both India and Australia are hardly showing any signs of relenting at the moment.
The fourth Test at the HPCA stadium has bore witness to a see-saw battle so far, and even though the Australians managed to gain some advantage in the final session of Day 2, it still happens to be anybody's game for the taking.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon claimed four wickets in the final session to halt India's progress and help restrict them to 248/6 after the passage of 91 overs.
At 157/2, and with the dependable Cheteshwar Pujara and stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane looking set in the middle, India appeared to have the upper hand before Lyon (4-67) intervened after the tea break.
In the first over of the final session, Lyon sent back Pujara for 57 and went on to dismiss Karun Nair, Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin to deflate the hosts. Ravindra Jadeja clobbered a couple of sixes and was batting on 16 at the close, while Wriddhiman Saha was on 10, having survived two reviews and a dropped catch.
Pat Cummins and new ball colleague Josh Hazlewood were aggressive in the morning session on a pitch which offered wholesome bounce to the pacemen. Hazlewood was rewarded for constantly attacking the line outside the off-stump when Murali Vijay edged him to Matthew Wade to depart for 11. Fellow opener KL Rahul, then on 10, edged Cummins but the ball brushed Matt Renshaw's finger tips at first slip before racing to the boundary.
Rahul was hit on the index finger of his right hand by a Hazlewood delivery but the right-hander recovered to score 60 and give India a strong start. The 24-year-old left well, drove elegantly and slog-swept Steve O'Keefe for a six en route to his fifth half-century of the series.
India are still 52 runs behind Australia's first innings total of 300 in the decider of the four-test series which is level at 1-1. Saha and Jadeja's presence at the crease, with the latter hitting a couple of lofty sixes in his brief presence at the crease so far, the hosts will retain some hope going into the third day of the match.
It will be natural therefore, for the Australian bowlers to target these two on Monday, and getting them out cheaply on the third day is what they will be keeping in mind. Kuldeep Yadav will look to prove himself as a handy bat down the order in the international scene, having notched up a few decent scores in the domestic circuit. However, getting the overnight pair early will trim India's chances of getting a lead to almost nil.
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Updated Date: Mar 26, 2017 20:50:56 IST