Monday, 01 Mar, 2021

Sports

Brilliant Late Middle Order Batting Keeps India Alive

Saleque Sufi | banglanews24.com
Update: 2021-01-17 15:01:04
Brilliant Late Middle Order Batting Keeps India Alive [photo collected]

ICC Test Championship 
Border Gavaskar Test Series; Vodaphone Test Series 
4th Test 
Australia VS India Played at Woolloongabba, Brisbane from 15-19 January 2021 

Brief Score Card At Stumps Day Three; 

Australia 1st Innings 369 All Out in 115.2 Overs (Marnus Labuchangne 108, Tim Paine 50, Matthew Wade 47, Steve Smith 36, Nathan Lyon 24, Mitchel Starc 20*, T Natarajan 3/ 78, Shardul Thakur 3/94, Washington Sundar 3/ 89) 
Australia 2nd Innings 21/0 in 6 Overs 
India 1st Innings: 336 All Out in 111.4 Overs (Shardul Thakur 67, Washington Sundar 62, Rohit Sharma 44, Maynak Agarwall 38, Ajinka Rahane 37, Cheteswar Pujara 25, Josh Hazelwood 5/57, Mitchel Starc 2/88, Pat Cummins 2/94, Nathan Lyon 1/65) 
Australia leads by 54 runs with 10 second innings wickets at hand and two days left in the match. 

Australia at stumps of day three of the very important final match of the Border Gavaskar trophy finished 54 runs ahead with all second innings wickets at hand. India batted smartly defying hungry Australian bowlers at bay for most parts of the day finishing 336 all out. This was in response to Australia’s 369 all out in the first innings.

The series is locked 1-1 after three tests. A win for Australia can only let them recover Border Gavaskar Series. A draw would keep the trophy with them being the holders. With the possibility of rain interrupting the play of day four and five Australia would possibly go ahead batting aggressively till tea on day four moving to 300 runs lead and saving enough time to force a result in their favor. However, the way India batted since the second innings debacle gives enough indication that India may not crack under pressure.

The outstanding feature of the test over the three days is excellent bowling performance of lesser-known Indian bowlers Natarajan (3/78, Washington Sundar (3/89), Shardul Thakur (3/94), Batting of Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar was the feature of day three. Hazelwood also bowled exceptionally well gaining another five wickets haul. 


Very brave and quality batting by debutant Washington Sundar (62) and Rookie Shardul Thakur (67) from a position of no hope kept team India very much in the all-important Gabba test. India responding to 369 of Australia responded positively scoring 336 mainly due to 123 runs record 7th wicket partnership of the two. Prospect of a hefty Australian first innings lead surfaced with Rahane, Pujara and Punt being dismissed leaving two new comers Sundar and Shardul fighting out for survival. They did it and did in style defying three tall pacey Australians Hazelwood Starc and Cummins all bowling 140 Kmh plus. In business as usual neither Shardul nor Sundar would have played. We are not sure when either of them would play again in test for India. They were brought in the side for bowling. They bowled exceptionally well. Now through courageous batting both have inscribed them already in India’s test history.  Rain is forecasted to intervene tomorrow and day after. In such situation it is getting increasingly uncertain that Australia can force a win from here for recovering Border Gavaskar Trophy. Neither team deserves losing the test and the series. 

Australia managed taking the prized wickets of Rahane (37) and Pujara (25) early on Day three and also got the wicket of Maynak Agarwall and Pant cheaply creating situation for a substantial first innings lead. At 6/186 two unknown batsmen Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar (mainly drafted in the side as bowlers filling in the absence of injured front-line bowlers carried out an unbelievable rescue operation. Australian bowlers were bowling fast and aiming at rim cage, Lyon was turning. The pair batting skillfully carried India to reasonable safety. When Thakur got out scoring 67 India reached 307 closing in to Australian innings. More importantly lot of time was taken out of the match. India reached 336 all out reducing the lead to only 31. Hazelwood was the peak of Australian bowlers taking 5 /57.  Australia bowled well no question about that but it was exceptional batting by Shardul and Washington, which made the test evenly poised.

We are not sure how much cricket will be played over the last two days as forecast is there for intervening. Australia will need at least 300 runs lead and four sessions to make a crack against Indian batting. 

Quality Cricket played in the series has already made it a very special one. Team Indian team deserves great credit for playing exception cricket in three tests after Adelaide test.  The front-line bowlers were all gone one after another. Bowlers brought as net bowlers were drafted in desperate situation. The way India rebounded at MCG winning the test and fought out for an honorable draw at SCG were commendable. Even in this test India with depleted team has done enough not to lose. 

Let us hope that the last two days will witness enough cricket. All three possibilities are open at this stage. 

BDST: 1500 HRS, JAN 17, 2021
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