A defiant Pat Cummins took the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne to day five with a solid 61 not out of 103 deliveries on the penultimate day to leave India two wickets shy of what would be a historic win for the visitors. Cummins combined with Nathan Lyon for an unbeaten stand of 43 runs for the eighth wicket as Australia finished day four at 258/8, still 141 runs adrift of the target.
India, starting the day at 54/5, added 53 more runs for the loss of three wickets, before declaring their innings at 106/8d, thus setting Australia an improbable target of 399 on a deteriorating MCG track and then proceeded to leave Australia at reeling at 135/5 before the Australian tail waged adding 132 runs so far, for the loss of three wickets.
The target being out of reach for the hosts’ inexperienced and woefully out of form batting order was never in doubt, and India’s only roadblock seemed to be the thunderstorm predicted in Melbourne in the fag end of day four’s play and for most part of day five, and Cummins resistance seems to be delaying the inevitable.
Australia did look to play for time, but with Aaron Finch edging one off Jasprit Bumrah to slips for 3 and Marcus Harris getting caught short leg off Ravindra Jadeja, the hosts were already behind the eight-ball at lunch. Second session saw India chip away with three more wicket, before the lower-order put in some resistance.
Tim Paine scored 26 and Mitchell Starc added 18 before Cummins, who had claimed 9/99 in the match reminded India of Sam Curran as he battled hard with a gritty knock.
Resuming on 44/2 at lunch, Mohammad Shami removed Usman Khawaja while Mitchell Marsh was undone by Jadeja. But the big wicket of Shaun Marsh (44) was taken by Jasprit Bumrah.
Marsh and Khawaja had started the second session on a steady adding 30 runs for the third wicket before Shami bowled a peach of a delivery trapping Khawaja in front for 33.
Travis Head and Shaun Marsh then got together and the duo batted well without getting bogged down adding 51 runs in 12.1 overs before Bumrah got one to nip back in from around the wicket and Marsh was beaten for pace and was trapped in front.
Six overs later, younger brother Mitchell drove Jadeja only managing the to hit the ball at covers to Virat Kohli as Australia slumped to 135/5.
Earlier, Under somewhat gloomy skies, India added 53 runs to their total for the loss of three wickets. The dismissal of Rishabh Pant, trying to uppercut Josh Hazlewood, prompted the declaration from Virat Kohli.
Pant was the third wicket to fall on Saturday morning as Pat Cummins surged to career-best Test figures of 6/27.
Bumrah struck second ball when Aaron Finch arched his back and steered straight to Kohli at second slip who cupped a sharp catch above his head.
Khawaja was worked over by Bumrah, squared up and squirting past gully for four in his next over, and then saw India unsuccessfully review a not-out decision for an inside edge in Jadeja’s first over. Jadeja didn’t have to wait long for his wicket. Harris (13) pressed forward and got a thin edge that Agarwal at short leg held onto this time.
Brief Score: Australia 151 & 258/8 runs need 142 more runs to win against India 443/7 decl & 106/8 decl