Rohit Sharma’s indiscreet shot selection pegged India back after its rookie bowling attack restricted Australia to 369 on a rain-curtailed second day of the fourth Test on Saturday. With heavy thundershowers preventing any play in the post-tea session, India ended the day at 62 for two.
Rohit was elegant as ever in his 44 off 74 balls before Nathan Lyon in his 100th Test enticed him to come down the track; he was caught out by Mitchell Starc at long-on. India also lost Shubman Gill (7), who edged a delivery off Pat Cummins to Steve Smith.
Cheteshwar Pujara (8) and Ajinkya Rahane (2) added two runs in the 6.1 overs before the break.
There were six boundaries from Rohit but he did not fiddle at deliveries in and around the off-stump channel even as Cummins and Josh Hazlewood bowled a testing spell under overcast conditions.
The shot of the session was an on-drive off Cummins which came after a streaky boundary through the slips in the same over. Another delightful stroke was an off-drive off Cameron Green as 49 runs were added for the second wicket. There wasn’t much swing on offer but the pace off the track has increased compared to the first day and it only helped that the Australian pace attack is has more pace; the bowlers’ average speed is at least 6-7 kmph more than their Indian counterparts.
Pujara at the other end was playing slow, as usual, but it didn’t look too arduous when Rohit kept the scoreboard ticking at the other end. Among all top order batsman across both sides, Rohit looked the most comfortable and till his dismissal he never looked like being troubled by the four-pronged attack.
However, as has been his peculiarity in South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia, Rohit went after Lyon when the situation demanded he play for session-end, and was dismissed. It was similar to his dismissal off Moeen Ali at the stroke of tea during the 2014 series and that was also after he was set.
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India, which has been forced to field a depleted side, won’t mind an inclement weather which effectively makes the home team more jittery as a draw would be enough for Ajinkya Rahane to lift the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
In the first session, India’s rookie bowling line-up did put up a lion-hearted effort, getting the last five wickets for 95 runs. Shardul Thakur (3 for 94) along with debutants Washington Sundar (3 for 89) and T. Natarajan (3 for 78) got the breakthroughs while Mohammed Siraj (28-10-77-1) got one on the opening day.
For an attack as thin on experience as India, the effort in adverse times can only be commended. India lost five main bowlers through the three Test matches and was forced to hand Test debuts to Natarajan and Washington.
Nathan Lyon (24 off 22 balls) and Mitchell Starc (20 off 35 balls) counter-attacked the inexperienced Indian attack with a brisk 39-run partnership to take Australia past 350-run mark.
Australia has never lost a Test match at the Gabba after scoring 350 in the first innings.
Resuming Australia’s innings at 274 for five, Tim Paine (50) and Cameron Green (47) extended their stand to 98 before the home team encountered a mini-collapse. Thakur bowled a fuller delivery that shaped away and Paine’s lazy drive without going to the pitch of the delivery saw Rohit Sharma take a regulation catch at second slip.
Paine was just getting into the groove with some good drives when Thakur provided the breakthrough.
With the partnership broken, Green probably lost his concentration as he played for the turn to an angle delivery from Sundar which straightened after pitching and breached through his defences.
Pat Cummins (2) was adjudged leg-before-wicket as he yorked himself to a fuller delivery from Thakur as Australia slumped from 311 for five to 315 for eight before the tail wagged once again to beef up the total.
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