Australia v India – Fourth Test, Day 5: Incredible India are fantastic (and a win for cricket)

 

 

The weather could be the final determinant for the grand finale to this absorbing Test series. Showers are imminent in and around southern Queensland today.

 

There is an urgency about the Australians today which wasn’t there yesterday.  Why were they so reticent to go after the runs knowing that rain was a certainty to fall in the wake of the tropical cyclone up north?

 

Will India go for victory?  Much will depend on the start they might get from Gill and Sharma.  Certainly, if Gill stays there runs will flow, that is his game and there is always the thought of Rishabh Pant coming in late if they have time on their hands.

 

The heavy rain on Day 4 is playing its part with the outfield exceedingly slow and a few early shots that would have been fours yesterday are not happening.

 

As usual Hazlewood and Cummins are on target with the pitch showing signs of assistance. That assistance paid off when Sharma (7) gets one that moves a fraction from Cummins and Paine dives to take a fine catch. The bowlers will operate in short spells due to the oppressive weather.

 

Will be hard for India to make the runs with the wicket causing the batsmen to play cautiously.

 

Question – Does Cameron Green take as long as Shane Watson to bowl an over?  Would have hated to have the two of them operating at the same time!

 

Have mentioned before how fine a fielder Patrick Cummins is and today some of the stops he did off his own bowling were brilliant. If only his batting was more consistent what a fine captain he would be.

 

They call him “The Wall II” but Cheteshwar Pujara is more of a Sphinx to me. He is like a lone sentinel out there in the middle, staring into space oblivious to all that surrounds him. He is the one wicket that Australia really wants.

 

At the other end Gill is playing some delightful shots. His timing is impeccable and he definitely has been the find of the series.

 

Great first session of tough Test cricket with India losing 1 wicket for 83, with the impressive Shubman Gill on 64 and The Sphinx 8. Patrick Cummins took the only wicket.

 

Australia will really need to make the most of the remainder of the game if they want to win back the trophy but it is hard to see them achieving it.  The conditions are against their fast men and Lyon continues to struggle against batsmen who are prepared to use their feet to him. Interesting to note that his bowling average against India is over 60 per wicket.

 

India looks to be chasing the runs after lunch with Pujara more than tripling his score and Gill edges towards a Test century.

 

The score has reached 132 with both batsmen taking to Starc but Lyon stops the rot. Gill on 91 prods at one and it goes into the safe hands of Smith.  A fine innings comes to an end as he deserved a century (8 fours and 2 sixes) and had given his team a rough chance of taking the game. With 50 overs still to be bowled it is not out of the question with under 4 runs per over required.

 

Pujara has been pummelled left, right and particularly centre by the Australian quicks and any lesser man might have thrown in the towel. This, however, is one tough hombre and he is prepared to tough it out before surrendering his wicket. Within 10 minutes he gets a whack on the helmet and needs a replacement. Reckon he needs a body replacement as well. The bowlers are giving him everything in what could be a last ditch stand by them as the day is not getting any cooler. Where is the Fremantle Doctor when you need him?

 

Rahane (24) plays a nothing shot to the lion-hearted Cummins for Paine to take. Talk about giving your wicket away – it looked like he was trying to avoid but left the bat in the way 3/167 and still anybody’s game.

 

Pant has gone up one in the order so India are still going for it.

 

The equation at tea is as follows – Australia needs 7 wickets, India needs 145 runs, minimum overs 37 equals 3.99 runs per over.

 

Beautiful clear day now so no likelihood of rain to stop proceedings and a victory to one or the other or both.

 

Pujara reaches his 50 from 200 balls with 7 fours. His patience is outstanding and he is being well supported by a patient Pant who is only playing rash shots under frustration.

 

Australia takes the new ball with India still requiring 100 runs. Cummins beats Pujara (56) for LBW, the batsman reviews the situation and shakes his head when it goes against him. This was the wicket Australia wanted and they have got it in the first over with the new cherry.

 

The temperature now at The Gabba is 29 degrees and 55% humidity and the bowlers are starting to waver and, in particular, Hazlewood and Cummins ate bowling a few astray.

 

Pant reaches another 50, this time of 101 balls. He has had a pretty good series after his shock omission from the First Test. Sometimes his keeping has not been of Test standard but his batting is match-winning. Once he gets his keeping skills up, he will be a formidable opponent.

 

Love to know how many people are watching and listening to the last 15 overs of the game with India only requiring 63 runs to win. It is a fitting finale to what has been one of the finest Test series ever seen on Australian soil. Cummins is still coming in hard and Lyon is having his last fling.

 

Another DRS is dismissed but it doesn’t matter as Agarwal plays a shot next ball which should have been left in his locker. An ordinary ball that he tries to belt the cover off only for it to balloon to Wade at short cover. India 5/265 and its chances slump as they only have the Indian seconds players to back up the defiant Pant. Patrick Cummins now has 4/38 in a splendid performance.

 

Pant assumes the role of Master of the Universe as he only takes singles near the end of an over. As shown in the first innings, Washington Sundar is no slouch but the series is right on the tightrope and how are his nerves?  The odds would favour India but they still require 5 an over.

 

What a finish this is.

 

Often the fielders are forgotten in a game like this but it would be hard to estimate how many runs Marnus Labuschagne has saved in this match. His fielding today has been superb.

 

Should not have doubted Washington Sundar and he hits Cummins for 6 and then a 4 to give them a chance of winning and we expected Pant to do the attacking. Well, he does in Lyons next over with consecutive 4s and then 4 byes leaving 26 to win.

 

Drinks – they all deserve one but it is only the batsmen who have a mini-break.

 

Cummins at last is relieved. He will sleep well tonight. The batsmen are at ease with Hazlewood and take runs off his first 3 balls. Four leg byes from the next ball don’t help Australia. 15 to get and the captain Ajinkya Rahane nearly cracks a smile.

 

15 from 30.

 

Washington plays a ridiculous backward sweep from Lyon, or tries to, misses and the ball hits the wicket. Australia still have a chance – India 6/318 and Washington scored a handy 22.

 

13 runs to get and 4 wickets in hand.  It is up to Rishabh Pant to take control and he pulls Hazlewood’s first ball for 4. He has a wild swish next ball and it drops between 3 fieldsmen. What luck!

 

Although young in experience, Shardul (2) tells Pant to settle down but he hits Hazlewood straight up in the air for Lyon to catch. Three runs to get. Pant, a superb innings drives Hazlewood for 4 and it is all over – India scores a ridiculous win by 3 wickets.

 

What a Test match and my how the Indians celebrate and they finish with a lap of hour with Rishabh carrying the Indian flag triumphantly!

 

What a series. What a team. They are invincible. They never took a backward step after the disaster that was Adelaide.

 

All hail the heroes.

 

CITRUS’S PLAYER OF THE SERIES

(note – selected during first session of play Day 5)

Being the piker I am, this was a most difficult task and rather than a player of the series I have picked out the three best from both teams. India, in particular, did not have a consistent player for the series but each individual played his part at some stage. For Australia, it was much easier as, in my humble opinion, three players were dominant.  Not in any order these are my best:

 

INDIA

Shubman Gill – picked for his first Test in Melbourne, the young opening batsman was consistent without making a big score. Showed that he will be a player with a great future with some delightful stroke making.

 

Ajinkya Rahane – took over the captaincy from Kohli and his performance in Melbourne earned the plaudits of all. Did a wonderful job under the most trying of circumstances.

 

Ravichandran Ashwin – might surprise, but I thought he had his best series ever in Australia, particularly when he had to carry the attack and his effort with the bat in Sydney was outstanding.

 

Honourable Mentions: Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj

 

AUSTRALIA

Josh Hazlewood – had a wonderful series with the ball with consistent attacking bowling. His accuracy was perhaps the best of his career. His runout in Sydney was one of the highlights of the series.

 

Patrick Cummins – like Hazlewood, had an excellent series starting with his great work in Adelaide. Both these bowlers needed careful watching from the Indians. Brilliant in the field.

 

Marnus Labuschagne – where would Australia have been without his consistent run-scoring? Time and time again he went to the wicket with very few runs on the board and pulled his team together.

 

‘Citrus’ Bob Utber will return tomorrow with his wrap of the series.

 

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About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.

Comments

  1. Cricket was the winner today, Citrus. In particular: Test cricket.
    What a game, what a series. India just too damn good.

  2. John Butler says

    Fantastic from India today.

    CB, have loved your work throughout the summer. It was a great series to follow.

    Many thanks.

  3. Liam Hauser says

    I’m not at all disappointed with the outcome. India was too good in the end. Credit where it’s due. After being all out for an embarrassing 36 in the first Test and then losing Kohli (as planned) and then losing countless players to injury, the Indians kept plugging away under adversity. They certainly weren’t daunted, overawed or intimidated.
    Shubman Gill, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj deserve a lot of credit. The inexperienced quartet thrived with the series on the line. Pant’s batting on day 5 was superb if unorthodox at times, while Pujara’s dogged nature was a huge asset as always.
    I’m a firm believer that what is more telling than a hefty defeat is how the vanquished team follows up. Well, India won 2 of the last 3 Tests and drew the other, despite enormous adversity. And the tourists had a big group of fans to cheer them on, especially on the last day of the last Test.
    What surprises me most about the Australians was that their bowlers failed to dismiss India a second time in Sydney and Brisbane. Certainly they had more than enough runs to play with, even if Australia’s batting was decidedly patchy. Neither Starc nor Lyon had a good series, while Green was usually tidy but he lacked penetration and seemed a bit pedestrian. He showed some good signs as a batsman though. Cummins and Hazlewood were great, which makes it all the more surprising to me that Australia couldn’t defend a 300+ target on the final day. No excuses at all.
    For me, the best thing is that Test cricket is thriving, other than the Ashes.

  4. Yes, thanks Citrus.

  5. Well played, CB. An historic day for Indian cricket and thoroughly deserved – everyone did their bit. Meticulous planning went into this series and they executed it far better than the Australians. India is the powerhouse of world cricket in more ways than one! As Liam has stated, now comes the real test for Australia – how can/will we respond to newfound adversity? In the overall context of cricket, how can you better what we have seen in this Test series? It will live in the game’s history, not like the overdose of pap we endure via the the T20 rubbish – here today, gone before it even become the wrapping for tomorrow’s fish’n’chips!

  6. Great report. Great match and series. Restored my faith in Test Cricket. Was captivated by today’s play. More ebbs and flows than an Eagles/Collingwood grand final.
    So many questions and narratives. Are India a better side without the manic intensity of Kohli? Does he intimidate more than inspire?
    Do the lunatics run the Australian asylum? Is the coach unable to drop his stars when they obviously need a rest? Look how well the Indian backup bowlers performed.
    Is Pant a better keeper-batsman than Gilchrist?
    How many short form specialists would be terrific Test players? Can’t believe Washington Sundar hasn’t played first class cricket for 3 years. Just IPL and 50 overs ODI’s. What a talent. How many more are there?

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Many thanks to you Bob for your sterling efforts this summer.

    Given the efforts of the Indian “depth players”, I’m wondering whether it’s not just the lack of long form cricket (eg Sheffield Shield RIP) in the Australian summer schedule, but also the selection thought processes? What’s Wade doing in the side? Are Warner and Lyon cooked? Why was Burns persisted with? Let’s hope Pucovski has a few mates. Do we only have four bowlers worth a go? Who is our next captain?

    Full marks to India.

  8. Well done CB. It’s been a great coverage of the series.

    Truly India are fantastic.Win for cricket ?????????????????????????????????? With the B C C I’s control of world cricket i don’t understand the later point. As an Australian cricket follower i didn’t find the result to my liking.

    Australian cricket; where to from here? To lose at the ‘Gabbatoir’ for the first time in just over 32 years, losing by not being to defend a large tally, is not pretty. But what will the post mortem bring to the surface. Anyhow, here’s my two bobs worth.

    Tim Paine should have played his last test. His captaincy,his banter are of no concern to me.He is picked as our keeper,and in the final few tests failed. Missed catches,missed stumpings, byes conceded ,not a pretty picture.He’s not getting younger, he’s played his best cricket, but who comes in: Alex Carey?

    Matthew Wade, Marcus Harris also should not reappear in the baggy green. One is past his best, the other has failed to grab his chance every time selected. Re the latter he should have opened in the first test, when he was in form, not weeks later.

    Dave Warner, Mitch Starc, Matthew Lyon ??? Warner was not meant to have any leadership role in the team following sandpaper gate, yet prior to the first test his ‘opinion’ of the openers was being talked about, noticed by the hierarchy. Am i missing something? He was injured prior to the series,is not getting younger,how much is left in the tank? Mitch Starc: when you’re taking wickets, your propensity to leak runs can be forgiven. Not the case here. Lyon is not the first Australian spinner to find the Indians hard to tame. Yet for a chap with the moniker,G O A T , he never seemed threatening in the series.

    India are the best team in the world. Disappointing test, disappointing series for Australia. Where do we go from here. There are players like Puckovski,Green who are our future. After thme,there is??????

    Glen!

  9. Good work Citrus Bob. As many have articulated: Stunning day of a cricket. Stunning test. Stunning series. That chase reminded me a lot of Gilly in Hobart ’99 – although India had time contraints to contend with. Any other side would have shut up shop, played for the draw and prayed for rain.

    I do wonder if India are going to dominate the game for a long time. They had at least five of their best 11 players out:
    Best bat: Kohli
    Two best spinners (who can bat): Ashwin and Jadeja
    Two best pace bowlers: Bumrah and Shami

    You could also argue their third best pace bowler is Yadav or Sharma, although I think Siraj may have superseded both those two this series.

    Add in the likes of Vihari and Saha and a short-form wonder called Pandya, and this country has near on twenty players vying for 11 spots. And they’ve hardly had any first class cricket preparation prior to this series, coming straight out of the IPL. Some of these guys, rarely play first class cricket. T20 is way bigger in India. And yet they win a test series away from home against a very good opposition. Methinks, they are going to dominate cricket for awhile.

  10. Colin Ritchie says

    Thanks once again CB for your incisive and informative reports, I really enjoyed them! Test cricket is the premier form of the game as this series indicated. I was glued to the TV most of the match, and the series, enthralling stuff. India demonstrated what can be achieved using fresh players – albeit not by choice – but those players grabbed the opportunity and made the most of it. Many Australian players looked tired and jaded, Starc the prime example, James Pattinson should have been given a chance to play this test considering the short turn around. I think its time to blood more young players with perhaps the coming tour to South Africa the opportunity to do so.

  11. This test series proved 2 things. India, with a great depth of players, is, at the moment, the best cricket team around. The second is where does Australia go from here.Many players are overrated or stale. The selectors themselves should be under the microscope. Surely Paine has played his final test,.interesting times ahead.

  12. Thank you Citrus Bob.
    You have also had a terrific series.
    No small thing to have insightful match reports written within hour(s) of the finish of each days’ play.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my day of attending in Melbourne (Day 3).
    And thoroughly enjoyed watching a good part of the Sydney Test on free-to-air TV.
    And thoroughly enjoyed watching the last two days from Brisbane again on Channel 7.

    The pace of Test cricket and amount of decision-making required in Test cricket both allow for plenty of scope for conjecture and wondering. But that is the nature of it. Like life, I guess.

    What a win. I watched from my lounge room. A mate joined me for the last session.
    As it unfolded, we felt lucky to be watching a little piece of daylight magic.
    Audacious, unnecessary, captivating, brave and transformative cricket.
    Well played India.
    Well played.

  13. Liam Hauser says

    The more I think about it, the more I reckon how remarkable it is that many of India’s strong contributors were rookies, while many of Australia’s experienced players did not have a happy time.
    None of Burns, Warner, Wade, Head, Paine, Lyon and Starc had a good series.
    I wouldn’t compare Pant to Gilchrist just yet, but one thing I will say about Pant is that he has shown he can adequately fill the giant shoes of MS Dhoni. Don’t forget Pant is still only 23.

    In the 30-odd years that I’ve followed cricket, it’s interesting that 4 particular series come to mind. All were classics, and could have gone either way, with Australia ultimately losing.

    1992-93: West Indies beat Australia 2-1 on Australian soil. The hosts were on the verge of an unbeatable 2-0 series lead but they lost the Adelaide Test by 1 run when Craig McDermott was controversially ruled caught behind. Interestingly, that’s the most recent time that the West Indies won the Frank Worrell Trophy.
    Although I reckon McDermott shouldn’t have been given out, the fact of the matter was that Australia was 7-74, chasing 186. The top order was at fault, apart from Justin Langer.

    2001: Australia was again on the cusp of an unbeatable 2-0 series lead, this time on Indian soil. The hosts had to follow on in the second Test, and then along came Laxman and Dravid. India levelled the series and then narrowly won a thrilling decider.

    2005: There were so many twists and turns in this Ashes series. Australia was again so close to taking a 2-0 series lead, when England won the second Test by 2 measly runs. England ultimately won the series 2-1.

    2020-21: Australia v India. After being all out for just 36 in the first Test, India had many setbacks but did not lose again. A well deserved 2-1 series victory, sealed when chasing a challenging 328 in the deciding Test.

    Let’s not forget that Australia has had far more success than any other cricketing country in the past 30 years. Perhaps that’s why the above 4 series stand out, because the scales tipped against Australia. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that these were classics, even if they didn’t go Australia’s way.

  14. Daryl Schramm says

    Fascinating test match. Had the lot, including doubts about the weather. The only non-drop-in pitch had its say as well. Our lack of respect for the personnel in the opposition in the first innings contributed to the result.

    A great series comeback by India against the odds. It just shows how pundits can overreact when an extreme blemish occurs (cue whitewash predictions after Adelaide). Quite probably another overreaction occurring around the traps now.

    We don’t have the opportunity to bounce back immediately after this as we did at Old Trafford after Headingly. So there will be nteresting times ahead.

  15. citrus bob says

    Thanks very much for your inciteful comments folks. This has been a wonderful series with the unexpected happening from day in Adelaide right through to day 5 in Brisbane.

    The sub-heading should have read (my fault) A WIN FOR TEST CRICKET. In my haste to get my report to the Web Editor I forgot to re-read. ER – we try to get the report in no later 10 minutes after the day’s play finishes.

    The Australian selectors do have some work to do don’t they?

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