By BV Swagath
India pulled off a tremendous victory by 6 wickets in the Mohali Test despite the entire opening day’s play washed out. Needing 133 to win in about 33 overs, India got to the target steadily in the last hour. The hosts now take a 3-0 lead in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to have they eyes on a 4-0 whitewash in Delhi.
It was an interesting final day’s play as one thought that the match would be wrapped up by the end of the first session itself the way the Aussie batting crumbled. But the lower order annoyed the Indians so much that the match concluded almost at the scheduled close of play time.
India by the final session needed 103 more runs to win in a minimum of 26 overs with all its wickets in hand. Murali Vijay departed early in the session trying to go big, inside out over extra covers after leaving the crease but for once missed his shot and got stumped off Xavier Doherty’s bowling. India added 28 more runs in the next 9 overs before Cheteshwar Pujara (28 from 51 balls) trying to play a forcing pull shot was out lbw to Nathan Lyon with the length just not short at all.
Virat Kohli along with Tendulkar carried India forward and with just another 33 to win lost his wicket in a soft manner failing to keep a flick along the ground to get caught at short mid wicket. Kohli scored a solid 34 from 61 balls with 6 fours before falling to Peter Siddle’s relentless line and length bowling. India made slightly heavy weather of the run chase after this as Skipper MS Dhoni struggled to get going and wasted many dot balls. Sachin Tendulkar (21 from 23 balls) got under pressure because of that and ran himself out trying to run a non-existent leg bye from the off side.
The exit of Tendulkar saw Ravindra Jadeja come and blast Siddle for a couple of boundaries to release all the pressure that was on India with overs running out fast. MS Dhoni (18* from 28 balls with 3 fours) finally unleashed a couple of big shots to finish off things in the 34th over.
Shikhar Dhawan as expected got the Man of the Match for his terrific 187 on Debut.
Update at Lunch on Day 5: India are on course of winning the third Test at Mohali after finishing the afternoon session at 30 for 0 in 7 overs. Shikhar Dhawan who had injured his hand while putting in a sliding stop yesterday did not come out to open the innings. India opened the innings with Murali Vijay (19*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (10*) who looked comfortable against the new ball.
Australia leave India 133 to win: Australia have been bowled out for 223 in 89.2 overs midway during the afternoon session. That leaves India with a target of 133 runs in a minimum of 27 overs in one and a half session. India got the much needed wicket of Brad Haddin when the Wicket Keeper batsman went deep back in the crease and misread an Ashwin carrom ball which cut away to hit his pad plumb infront of middle for an lbw. Haddin scored 30 (from 72 balls with 5 fours) while taking the lead past 100 runs.
India then had to wait for about 18 overs to get the final wicket as the pair of Mitchell Starc and Xavier Dohery looked comfortable, even against the second new ball. The pair added as many as 44 runs before Ravindra Jadeja got one to kick with plenty of turn to force Mitchell Starc (35 from 100 balls with 2 fours) to glove him to leg slip. Doherty provided good support with his 18* (from 56 balls).
Update at Lunch on Day 5: Australia are heading towards a third straight defeat in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after a disastrous morning session on Day 5. There is a glimmer of hope for a draw with Brad Haddin and Mitchell Starc looking good and the overall lead moving to 79 runs. Otherwise, it was all India in the morning session with the hosts bowling as many as 46 overs in two and a half hours to take five wickets and reducing the visitors to 170 for 8.
The first wicket of the day came from Pragyan Ojha who got the ball to turn away just enough to have the night watchman Nathan Lyon (18 from 48 balls) caught behind by MS Dhoni inside the first half hour. Skipper Michael Clarke bravely walked in after this despite his back trouble but lasted only 49 balls for his 18 before he was caught bat pad inside edging a flick off a quicker one from Ravindra Jadeja to shortleg. India smelled victory after this and next to go was overnight half centurion Phil Hughes who was defending well today and was sent back by a wrong umpiring decision from Aleem Dar. It was an arm ball from Ashwin which clearly was drifting dowm leg but Aleem Dar with his habit of raising his finger quickly, got it wrong big time. Hughes finished with a fighting knock of 69 from 147 balls (with 11 fours and a six).
Ravindra Jadeja got Moises Henriques caught and bowled brilliantly diving to his left after luring him into an early drive and just a few overs later, Pragyan Ojha got one to turn away from middle to hit the off stump of Peter Siddle to leave the Aussies at 143 for 8 in 55 overs. India couldn’t wrap up things after that as Brad Haddin and Mitchell Starc survived the next 12 overs before lunch to take the visitors to 170 for 8.
Build Up to Day 5: Only two results are possible today – either an Indian win or a draw in this Third Test at Mohali. The bad news for Australia is that their Skipper Michael Clarke is unfit to bat and will only come out to bat if and only if required because of a lower back injury. The visitors with a deficit of 16 runs and 7 wickets in hand would ideally look to bat through two sessions to feel secured about a draw. Phil Hughes, who is well set has to bat long to shut the door on India.