by Anubhav Saxena__
At the end of day 4, India’s bowlers have almost taken the team to an emphatic victory, with Cummins the last remaining citadel of the Australian challenge.
He had just taken 4 quick wickets and blown away the Indian top order. At the back of his mind, an exhausted Australian bowler Pat Cummins knew that the odds were stacked strongly against his team. Yet he prophetically stated yesterday at the end of Day 3, “You dare to dream but it’s still a long way left in this game.”
Day 4 is now past us, and Cummins stands as a lone warrior separating India from a win in Melbourne along with a crucial 2-1 lead in the Test series. His grit and determination is in stark contrast to the rest of the Australian team which capitulated in manner similar to the first innings, albeit with a better score on the board. At stumps on day 4, Australia were at 258/8, 141 runs short of victory and 2 wickets away from defeat. Cummins was unbeaten at 61 (103 balls, 5×4, 1×6) supported by Lyon at 6 (38 balls).
If the follow on had been enforced by India on Day 3, we believe the match would have been won long ago, possibly even by an innings. But India’s bowlers have saved their captain the blushes and delivered again, but now the match stretches to day 5.
India continued from their overnight second innings score of 54/5 with Agarwal and Pant at the crease. Both batsmen chose to attack the bowling from the outset, with Agarwal hitting Lyon for two sixes in one over. However, he was soon bowled by a Cummins delivery that kept low for 42 (102 balls, 4×4, 2×6). Jadeja had a short stay at the crease before he became Cummins’ 6th victim. Rishabh Pant lost his wicket for 33 (43 balls, 3×4, 1×6) to Josh Hazlewood, after which India declared at 106/8; setting Australia a victory target of 399.
As the Aussies opened their batting, Aaron Finch was caught by Virat Kohli at second slip off Jasprit Bumrah in the second over itself for 3. Harris didn’t offer much resistance either, caught by Agarwal at short leg of Jadeja. Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh were able to use their feet against Jadeja and keep the score board ticking. The former was given out LBW off a Shami delivery that straightened and hit his back leg for 33 (59 balls, 4×4, 1×6).
Marsh went in similar fashion to Bumrah, with ball tracking showing that it was just clipping leg stump. He had scored 44 (72 balls, 4×4, 1×6). But Australia would repent the fact that they lost the wickets of Mitchel Marsh and Travis Head despite the conditions not being conducive to reverse swing as in the first innings. Marsh was caught by Kohli off Jadeja for a lofted shot for 10 (21 balls, 1×6) and Head played on to his stumps off an Ishant Sharma delivery for 34 (92 balls, 2×4).
Captain Tim Paine gave Cummins some company but not for long, falling for 26 (67 balls, 4×4). He was caught by Pant off Jadeja. Starc was the next to fall to Shami for 18 (27 balls, 2×4). Cummins retained a constant vigil, however, and was rewarded with a well deserved 50, staying unbeaten by the end of the day.
With a six wicket haul and a hard-fought unbeaten 61, day 4 would certainly be remembered for an exceptional all round performance by Pat Cummins even as the rest of the Australian team played the inevitable script.
Moving on with the match, India start the day tomorrow two wickets away from victory, which should not take more than an hour’s session of impeccable fast bowling by Bumrah, Ishant and Shami. Tune in to Sony Liv to watch the live action tomorrow as India accounts for the remainder of Australia’s tail for an insurmountable 2-1 lead.