Australia bowled out India for a mammoth 572 before facing 16 overs to take lunch on Day Four of the first Test at 34 for one. The visitors still trail India by 158 runs.
MS Dhoni started the day like he ended Day Three, on an aggressive note. On just the second ball of the day, Dhoni reverse-swept Nathan Lyon for four and stated his intent. In Lyon's next over, Dhoni smacked him over long-on for a huge six.
Australia finally got rid of Dhoni (224 off 263 balls) about half-an-hour into the session after he tried to pull James Pattinson, but found the edge which carried to 'keeper Matthew Wade. A marathon knock came to an end as the Chennai crowd rose to applaud their hero. Meanwhile, not many at the MA Chidambaram Stadium realised that Pattinson had taken five wickets.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar then seemed to have taken over the reins from Dhoni. The young all-rounder took most of the strike and did the scoring, whilst shielding No 11 Ishant Sharma from strike.
Australia finally managed to bowl out the hosts for 572 as Peter Siddle got his first wicket of the innings. Bhuvneshwar, after a fine innings of 38 on debut, eventually holed out to Michael Clarke at mid-on as he went for the shots.
With just under an hour to bat till lunch, Australia opened their second innings, trailing by 192 runs, with Ed Cowan and Shane Watson, who replaced David Warner at the top. The move was probably a ploy to use a left-right combination to counter the rough areas.
India expectedly bombarded the two Australian openers with spin from both ends right from the start. Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh got a tremendous amount of turn and bounce from the snake-pit of a pitch on the fourth day.
Cowan and Watson managed to survive the first 15 overs without damage and looked to go into lunch unbeaten. But Ashwin had other plans. On the last ball before the break, he got Watson to go on a forward defensive stroke to his flighted stock ball, only for the cherry to hit Watson's gloves and loop up into the air. Virender Sehwag, running in from first slip, took an easy catch.
Australia would consider even a 150 target good enough for them to notch what seems like an unlikely win.
Brief Scores: Australia 380 and 34 for 1 (Shane Watson 17; Ravichandran Ashwin 1 for 14) trail India 572 (MS Dhoni 224, Virat Kohli 107, Sachin Tendulkar 81; James Pattinson 5 for 96) by 158 runs.
First Published: February 25, 2013, 11:33 am