136th over: India 392-4 (Kohli 97, Bharat 44) Murphy has been called into the firing line despite that 21-run over steaming up his spectacles a little. He leaks a two and a single to Kohli but otherwise survives intact.
135th over: India 389-4 (Kohli 94, Bharat 44) That 21-run over was the most expensive of the series. And it’s defibrillated this game out of it’s torpor. Now that Kohli is into the nineties the crowd have taken their volume up 90-odd notches too. Expect every run to be cheered like a century hereafter, particularly if KS Bharat delivers them in fours and sixes as he did last over. And when a top edge lands safely they have even more reason to cheer.
134th over: India 386-4 (Kohli 92, Bharat 43) Kohli clips a single, leaving KS Bharat to ride the wave of applause for his partner and kick it up with… a SIX! Green put it on a length and Bharat spun around and slammed it over the square leg fence. What will he do on the next one? He’ll DO IT AGAIN. This SIX is even bigger. In fact, it’s so big Steve Smith rushes in with some counsel for his bowler. But whatever the advice was it hasn’t worked as Green delivers a no-ball outside off stump that Bharat cuts gloriously behind point for FOUR. Green delivers a second no-ball in succession and gets worked for another single. 21 runs from the over!
133rd over: India 365-4 (Kohli 90, Bharat 26) Nathan Lyon embarks on his 50th over of the innings – the most he’s ever bowled in India. Lyon needs one more wicket to become the all-time wicket-taker against India but I doubt it’s ever seemed so far away. Or maybe not? He gets his third ball to bounce a little more. Unfortunately Kohli is good enough to follow it with his hands and work it from that higher angle off his ribs and all the way to the rope. Fantastic innovation and adaptability by Kohli as a single from the fifth takes him into the nineties.
132nd over: India 362-4 (Kohli 88, Bharat 25) Here we go, folks! And successive bouncers from Cameron Green to KS Bharat speaks volumes for his restlessness. The stalemate continues as a maiden ensues.
LUNCH Day 4: India 362 for 4 (Kohli 88*, Bharat 25*). India trail by 118
India win that session. But is victory slipping away for both sides?
There hasn’t been the attacking intent from India’s batters everyone had hoped for. Instead Virat Kohli has gone steadily about his business in pursuit of his first century in 41 innings. India bled 73 runs from the session. Australia took one wicket – and that was gifted to them by Ravi Jadeja’s mad rush of blood to the head on 28. Australia’s spinners have bowled tightly, finding a few moments of threat on a soporific pitch. But it’s been nowhere near enough to put a genuine scare into India and victory now seems light years away. Slowly but surely India are batting Australia out of this Test.
Steve Smith can’t let this slow grind continue so we may seem some freaky deaky strategy in the session after lunch. Look for wildcards Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne to get a couple of overs. Perhaps Steve Smith will blow the dust off his own spinning fingers to add to his tally of 19 Test wickets? At the least we’ll see Mitchell Starc given a spell to try and create some mayhem.
Time for a bite and a bit to drink. We’ll be back in a hot half-hour for the next session but make no mistake, folks, we are at a stalemate… in the doldrums… and on a long and winding road to nowhere.
131st over: India 362-4 (Kohli 88, Bharat 25) Lunch in sight now. Can Australia put a scare into India with a wicket? Or will India send their own message with a spree of hitting to bring the chase under three figures? For now they are content to whittle at the total rather than whack at it. Neither as three singles are run.
130th over: India 359-4 (Kohli 87, Bharat 23) Bouncer from Green! But the only one surprised is Alex Carey behind the stumps and he lets it beat him for four byes. Kohli takes two more runs to salt the wound and that brings the fifty partnership up for these two. Seventy runs from the 31 overs of this session.
129th over: India 348-4 (Kohli 85, Bharat 23) Dancing man Kohli skips down the pitch to flick two from Kuhnemann’s legside ball. That brings up the 350 for India. Great total but it’s still short of Australia’s 480. Bharat runs a leg bye from the next before another easy single to Kohli. The pace has quickened lately even if the pulse hasn’t. India are certainly scoring more freely with the ball coming harder onto the bat from Green and from the left-wing loop of Kuhnemann.
128th over: India 348-4 (Kohli 82, Bharat 21) Green is coming in over the wicket, angling at leg stump trying to find reverse swing. But nothing much so far and after Kohli swats him away off his toes for a single, he tries a 135kph yorker. Bharat keeps it out though as Green varies his length and pace, delivering his 13th over in the 129-140kph range. Two from the over. India trail by 132.
127th over: India 346-4 (Kohli 81, Bharat 21) After three dots and a single Kuhnemann tries to tempt Kohli with a full bunger but Kohli has his eyes on a bigger prize and he flicks it to midwicket for a single.
126th over: India 343-4 (Kohli 80, Bharat 19) That purr in the distance is the Green machine rolling in for a spell. That roar from the crowd is working a ball on leg side backward of square for a single to take his innings into the eighties. Mitchell Starc is warming up. Is Steve Smith about to throw caution to the wind and hard balls at hard bats with a barrage of pace from both ends before lunch? That electric fielding mentioned in the last over fizzes out a little as Travis Head fumbles and allows Bharat to pocket a run. The crowd is chanting ‘“Kohli! Kohli! Kohli”!” as the King moves within sight of his first century in over three years.
125th over: India 341-4 (Kohli 79, Bharat 18) More runs for Kohli as he glances Kuhnemann fine for two and then a safely driven single down the ground. Australia are trying desperately to spark something here. They have lifted a notch in the field and are diving, swivelling and hurling with attacking intent. But the Indian batters remain unperturbed and three come from the over.
124th over: India 338-4 (Kohli 76, Bharat 18) A tap behind square. A yelp for a run. A stutter and a scamper. A wild shy. A brave chase. The result? One run and two overthrows as Mitchell Starc pulls off a lovely piece of fielding on the rope. No further score from the over. India need 143 runs for a lead.
123rd over: India 335-4 (Kohli 73, Bharat 18) Kuhnemann bowls out a maiden which gave me time to research the “fact” that Kühnemann is the 442,270th most commonly held family name internationally and is held by one in 9,427,614 people. Yep, that’s how special Matt Kuhnemann is.
122nd over: India 335-4 (Kohli 73, Bharat 18) This partnership has crept to 24 from 85 balls – not exactly a runaway juggernaut more a slow jive toward 480. Lyon continues to probe at Kohli but the Indian master is onto every ball quickly, stepping out and stopping down to defend under the eyes. To the last of the over he steps back and rolls the wrists, watching it like a hawk and working it square for two runs.
121st over: India 332-4 (Kohli 71, Bharat 17) Kuhnemann to bowl! So it’s Murphy to get a rest not Lyon (yet). The Queenslander has been sparingly used in this Test by Smith – just 13 overs so far and 1-43 to show for them. What will his left arm spinners extract from this pitch that the right arms of Muprhy and Lyon can’t. Plenty it seems! Kuhnemann’s third ball pitches outside leg but darts back toward middle, deceiving Kohli and hitting the pads. Big appeal but Smith has to be certain and he isn’t. A maiden ensues.
120th over: India 332-4 (Kohli 71, Bharat 17) Somewhere in the ether of sketchy internet our OBO has mislaid an over but we are up to the 120th now and it will be Nathan Lyon to bowl it. He has 1-93 from 47 overs and may be due a spell.
118th over: India 332-4 (Kohli 71, Bharat 17) Murphy returns for Over 32. When will we see leftie Matthew Kuhnemann given his chance? Is there room for a wildcard over of cheeky tweak from Travis Head or Marnus Labuschagne? Three runs from the Murphy over. India now trail by 148 runs.
117th over: India 329-4 (Kohli 70, Bharat 15) After an hour of play India have squirrelled 34 runs for the loss of Ravi Jadeja. But they’ve been neatly pinned by excellent bowling by Nathan Lyon and Todd Murphy. How will they approach this second hour before lunch? Well there’s a hint as Bharat cuts the first ball after drinks for a lovely FOUR. Kracking Shot, KS!
116th over: India 323-4 (Kohli 70, Bharat 8) This is an important innings for Kona Srikar Bharat. He is almost 30 yet this is just his fourth Test and he’s yet to cement his spot with either bat or gloves. Before this innings, his five knocks have totalled 82 balls for 57 runs. With a single from Lyon’s final ball, he takes his total to nine runs from 21 balls. Worth raising a toast to? Why not, as the players take Drinks.
115th over: India 322-4 (Kohli 70, Bharat 8) Kohli beaten! Murphy looped it in and the ball straightened on Kohli, just missing the edge and flying past Carey’s gloves to run away for two byes thanks to a hot pursuit by Nathan Lyon. They will be the only runs from the over.
114th over: India 320-4 (Kohli 70, Bharat 8) Big spin by Lyon! He is putting serious revs on the ball and finding rough patches that are sending balls jagging inside and out. Lyon has 20 wickets already in this series and needs just one more wicket to pass Derek Underwood as the highest-ever wicket-taker in India. In the Land of Spin, what a feat that would be. Kohli clips a single off his hip from the last to break the dry spell and retain strike for Murphy’s over.
113th over: India 319-4 (Kohli 69, Bharat 8) From master to apprentice, Lyon throws the ball to Murphy. What a clinic they’ve conjured on this tour – Murphy dazzling everyone on debut with 7-for at Nagpur and Lyon proving his greatness with 11-for at Indore. They are turning the screws on India today. Murphy bowls another maiden to amp the pressure another notch.
112th over: India 319-4 (Kohli 69, Bharat 8) Bharat is beaten! Nathan Lyon has his tail up and is troubling the new batter with his loop and skid. A bamboozled Bharat is happy to steal a single and get off strike.
111th over: India 318-4 (Kohli 69, Bharat 7) Australia have one wicket from the 11 overs this morning and India have 29 runs so the visitors are ahead, I reckon. Todd Murphy is really toiling hard here. The Echuca offie claimed the scalps of both Virat Kohli (for 12) and KS Bharat (8) in his debut Test at Nagpur on the way to 7 for 124. But once bitten twice shy in this over as they play out a maiden.
110th over: India 318-4 (Kohli 69, Bharat 7) Over the top! Lyon tossed it up and KS Bharat took one big step and hit with the spin to send it flying over the infield, over the outfield and over the fence. SIX! Top shot, KS! But the Australians will like that rush of blood to the head. It reeks of risky batting and that often results in wickets. Lyon’s length has been excellent this morning and he gets one to jag out of the rough and past Bharat’s blade late in the over. Even Steve Smith at slip has to scramble to stop it running away for byes.
109th over: India 311-4 (Kohli 68, Bharat 1) Here comes Murphy again, now with 2-58 from 26 overs toil. India still trail by 170 and if Australia were to spark one of those destructive domino-like collapses, this Test comes alive. Hard to tell whether India are hunting victory or dragging their heels to a draw. Even in the middle they seem torn as Virat Kophli sets off for a simple single only to be sent back by new batter KS Bharat. Jiminy Crickets, it’s a brave man that denies Virat Kohli a run – and don’t think Bharat isn’t getting some eyeball daggers for it.
108th over: India 309-4 (Kohli 67, Bharat 0) Australia have a sniff now! They’ve got rid of Jadeja and now there’s a huge appeal against Kohli. They’re tempted to review but that ace card stays up Steve Smith’s sleeve and rightly so as the ball is shown on replay to be sliding outside the line. Great over by Lyon – a maiden.
WICKET! Ravi Jadeja c. Khawaja b. Murphy 28 (India 309-4)
It was weird batting. Then it got weirder as Jadeja slammed a four, almost spooned a catch and then succeeded in the latter while attempting the former. Khawaja claimed an easy catch at mid off and Murphy has his man. Curious batting from Jadeja when he had the ball on a string but he’s GONE.
107th over: India 308-3 (Kohli 66, Jadeja 28) Almost a catch! Jadeja spanked a four down the ground from Murphy’s first ball but then almost spooned a catch on the next. Weird batting by a man well set.
106th over: India 303-3 (Kohli 66, Jadeja 23) Lyon to Kohli is a clash of titans. Going into this series the GOAT’s numbers against Virat Kohli were impressive – four wickets at an average of 23.25. But Lyon can’t improve them here, with just a single coming from it.
105th over: India 302-3 (Kohli 66, Jadeja 23) If the cap fits, wear it. And Ravi Jadeja has the helmet off and the baggy blue on as he faces Todd Murphy. Just one from the over as the partnership ticks over to 58 and the gap closes to 177.
104th over: India 302-3 (Kohli 65, Jadeja 23) India have two TVs in the dressing-rooms, each showing Tests on opposite sides of the planet. On the first they are watching their teammates duel with Australia, on the other they are tuned to Sri Lanka v New Zealand where the visitors have set the Black Caps 285 to win the first Test. Of course Sri Lanka must win that series 2-0 to have a hope of qualifying for the World Test Championship whereas India need to draw or win this Test to usurp them for a spot in the WTC final against Australia in June.
103rd over: India 302-3 (Kohli 65, Jadeja 23) Quick single! It looked risky but the batters ran like rabbits to make it safely. A shout on the third ball from Murphy as it rushes onto Jadeja and raps the pad roll but Australia are down to one review now so with seven wickets to get, Smith will have to use it wisely. Murphy has bowled well for his 1-51 from 24 overs but he will need to find another level (or unveil a mystery ball?) to extract these two batters. Two from the over and India now trail by 179.
102nd over: India 300-3 (Kohli 64, Jadeja 22) Lyon is online for what shapes as a very long spell on Day 4. Looks like Cameron Green was simple a wedge bowler for the two spinners to operate in tandem. Kohli and Jadeja each pick off singles as the GOAT grazes the rough patches that stubbornly refuse to crack open and reveal the bounty of a wicket. We are under cloudy skies today not the usual pummelling heat of the previous days so that may delay any ruptures in the surface. No hint of prodigious movement so far although Lyon appeals on the final ball. Looked like a leg stump line at best, Gaz. And Steve Smith agrees. No review.
101st over: India 297-3 (Kohli 64, Jadeja 17) A flash of the blade and it’s FOUR. Kohli was denied in the last over but he won’t be denied again, late cutting Todd Murphy to the boundary. Is this a statement of intent from the Indian master?
100th over: India 293-3 (Kohli 62, Jadeja 17) And we’re away on Day 4! Virat Kohli lights the fuse on the day’s play with a single pushed to cover point from Cameron Green’s bowling. That inches the King one run close to his first Test century in three years and 41 innings! Green has got his speed up to 140kph already but his radar isn’t quite right yet and he allows Jadeja to push a run behind backward square. That brings Kohli on strike for the final ball and it’s a half-volley on leg stump gift-wrapped with a bow and Kohli gives it the treatment, stepping out to drive it mercilessly to the long on boundary but it pulls up short and Starc restricts it to two runs.
And while we’re celebrating hundreds, Richard Woods wants a shout-out for someone who notched a Thousand yesterday…
“No round of applause for Nathan Lyon’s 1000th maiden over in test cricket? (Over 44)‘‘
Well played Gaz – another fine achievement for the GOAT!
After just one century across the first three Tests, there’s been triple tons in Ahmedabad: Usman Khawaja’s sublime 180 and Cameron Green’s maiden 114 for Australia. And yesterday, India’s Shubman Gill joined the Hundred Club.
Here’s how Geoff Lemon saw the Indian young gun’s masterpiece…
Much of the debate this morning will be about India’s approach. Will they chase victory (and revenge for their humiliating nine-wicket loss in Indore) by attacking Australia’s bowlers? Or will they stonewall and let the game drift to a draw, content to take the series 2-1 and knowing Sri Lanka must beat New Zealand 2-0 to have a hope of usurping them in the World Test Championship final?
How do you reckon they’ll play it? Drop me a line and have your say.
For those who came in late, here’s the overnight report…
Howdy cricket fans! Angus Fontaine here welcoming you back to Ahmedabad for the fourth Test between India and Australia and a rare Day Four in this strange but beautiful Border-Gavaskar series.
India are slowly but surely hunting down Australia’s total of 480. The home side finished day three at 289 for 3, trailing by 191 runs. Today they will look to pull ahead and set Australia a fifth-day target to win this Test and take the series 3-1. Only then can India guarantee their place in the World Test Championship final at The Oval in London in June, against Australia.
The hero for India yesterday was young gun Shubman Gill with a career-best 128. The recalled 23-year-old had strong support from Rohit Sharma (35), Cheteshwar Pujara (42) and Virat Kohli (59 not out) on a pitch packing precious few surprises. Australia’s spinners took three wickets – one apiece to Todd Murphy, Matt Kuhnemann and Nathan Lyon – and slowed India’s chase without stopping it.
Kohli is 41 innings without a century but yesterday notched his first fifty in 15 trips to the crease. The King looks in ominous form and, together with in-form allrounder Ravi Jadeja (16*) will resume today with attacking intent. That’s good and bad news for Australia. Good because it presents an opportunity to take wickets from risky shots. Bad because their ascendency in this Test could slip away very quickly if these two stroke-makers get going and run riot.
Either way, we’re in for an exciting day of cricket, so buckle ‘em up and batten ‘em down, we’ll have all the action shortly.