India in command in Delhi

2013-03-22 14:06
Ravichandran Ashwin (AFP)
Delhi - Australia survived an all-out India onslaught in the afternoon to reach the relative safety of stumps on 231 for eight on the first day of the fourth and final Test in Delhi on Friday.

According to the website, when the players retired for the night, Peter Siddle was on a 125-ball 47 - his highest Test score - and James Pattinson had 11.

The pair's unbeaten 42-run partnership came in 17 overs, and followed an equally dogged eighth-wicket stand of 53 (in 26 overs) between Siddle and Steven Smith, before the latter became Ravichandran Ashwin's fourth victim, caught at short leg for 46.

The hosts took the second new ball in the 93rd over - having sustained a brutally intense over rate throughout the day - but the two quicks, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma, could not make the breakthrough in the final 20 minutes of the day's play.

Earlier, India fought back with five wickets in the afternoon as Australia wobbled on 153 for seven at tea.

At the time Smith was unbeaten on 25, having faced 104 deliveries, and Siddle had five, as the visitors buckled under relentless pressure from India.

Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were the destroyers-in-chief, as first Ashwin bamboozled Ed Cowan, tossing it up outside leg, only for Cowan to miss the sweep and being bowled around his legs for 38.

Jadeja struck soon after, fooling Shane Watson with a shorter delivery to which he charged down the track, but it turned sharply and he was left stranded when Mahendra Singh Dhoni whipped off the bails. Watson made only 17.

Matthew Wade did not last long, caught by Murali Vijay at silly point off Ashwin for two, but could feel a touch aggrieved as there was no bat involved.

Having dispatched Pragyan Ojha for a six and four off successive deliveries, Glenn Maxwell then holed out to Jadeja, presenting an easy catch at mid-off for 10.

Mitchell Johnson was the final wicket of the afternoon, when he failed to pick Ashwin's carrom ball and decided to leave it alone, only for his stumps to be knocked over.

The visitors were in charge for the best part of the morning, reaching lunch on 94 for two, fighting hard on a tricky track, after winning the toss and electing to bat.

Cowan (27 not out at the time) and Watson (16 not out at the time) combined after Australia lost David Warner in the second over of the day for a duck, and Phil Hughes for 45.

Warner chased a wide ball from Sharma to be caught by Virat Kohli at second slip, a ball he could easily have left alone.

Hughes bided his time, capitalising on the frequent bad deliveries and playing with confidence on a wicket that will only get worse as the match progresses.

He was especially hard on Kumar and India's best spinner, Ashwin, taking five fours off them in no time, before settling down somewhat.

Sharma had the last say, though, first hitting Hughes with a steepler that reared up from slightly short of a length and crashed into the batsman's helmet. Three deliveries later, Sharma found the inside edge as Hughes - probably a tad rattled - defended tentatively only to steer the ball into his stumps.

Hughes faced 59 deliveries for his 45, a short innings that included 10 boundaries.

Cowan was not spared the moods of the pitch either, surviving a number of balls going through the top and keeping low.

Ashwin finished the day with 4-40 off 30 overs and Jadeja bowled 22 overs for a return of 2-34.

Australia's captain, Michael Clarke, was ruled out of the match with a back injury, and Watson - who missed the third Test following disciplinary actions - has been given the captaincy reins.

Australia have rung the changes with Wade replacing Brad Haddin. Johnson and Pattinson have returned in the place of Mitchell Starc and Xavier Doherty, while Maxwell replaced Moises Henriques.

India, meanwhile, have given a debut cap to Ajinkya Rahane, replacing the injured Shikhar Dhawan, star of the third match in Mohali.

This is only the third time in their Test history that Australia have used more than 15 different players in an away series, with Johnson becoming the 16th new face on the tour, evidence of a somewhat unsettled touring party.

Read more on:    india  |  ravichandran ashwin  |  cricket

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