Australia On Brink Of 4-0 Whitewash Of India
By Dinouk Colombage
Australia is within touching distance of securing a 4-0 whitewash over India following another disciplined performance by their bowlers.
At the end of day 4 India was reeling at 166-6, needing an unlikely 344 runs to win, or to bat out an entire day with only four wickets in the shed. For Michael Clarke and his men, this result will be an amazing turnaround from the debacle in Hobart which saw them lose their first test match to New Zealand in over 20 years.
Coming in to this match India had a final opportunity to save face and avoid the unmentionable 4-0 whitewash, by the end of day 4 it looked like this was a distant dream. Coming in to day 4, India was well behind the game having watched Australia build a lead of 382 runs.
Any chance of victory had gone out the window, now the Indians could only hope that their batting would click and hand them an unlikely draw. On a wicket that was flat and offered nothing to the bowlers, such a result could have been achieved. However, it only took four overs before the hosts got their first breakthrough in the second innings. Gautam Gambhir, who had looked solid in the first innings, was caught behind as he was squared up by Ryan Harris.
With any result going India’s way looking well and truly out of the question, stand in skipper Virender Sehwag went on the attack. Ever since his first innings in Melbourne back in December, Sehwag has been a shadow of his best. The traditional offside play of Sehwag game to the forefront as he compiled an aggressive half century off only 36 deliveries. The Indian supporters finally had something to cheer about, albeit the fact that his knock had four games too late.
Of course, as is the case with Sehwag, he was dismissed in equally aggressive fashion as he was caught at a short leg off the bowling of Nathan Lyon.
His end signalled what now appears to be the end of India’s fight in this match and series. The visitors went on to lose 5 for 86 runs, leaving the team on the bring of defeat. Of course with Sehwag’s exit arrived Sachin Tendulkar, and with him the now outdated question of whether he will get his 100th 100. Rahul Dravid’s poor tour finally came to an end with him chasing a wide delivery, which was snapped up in the gully. At least ‘the wall’ can feel happy knowing his dismissal did not involve his stumps being broken.
Any hope of Tendulkar lifting Indian hearts with the magical ton was quickly extinguished as Lyon picked up his second wicket. Tendulkar, who had gone in to a shell, timidly defended a straighter delivery which popped up in to short legs waiting hands. VVS Laxman and Virat Kohli were together, and now it was only a matter of whether India could drag the game in to day 5. Laxman, who could very well be playing his last match, was again circumspect and looked far from his best.
Ironically the man who has looked out of sorts was dismissed this time playing his trademark flick off the hip, only this time it went straight to the man at midwicket to give Lyon his third. The fight was over, but the game would carry over to day 5. India’s belief that they can still cause an upset was seen with the arrival of night watchman Ishant Sharma. Despite all nine fielders being placed around the bat, he managed to keep out the rest of the over.
This only delayed the pain as Kohli, who was looking solid at the crease, was run out attempting to protect Sharma. Earlier in the day Clarke and Ponting resumed Australia’s innings looking for quick runs. A solid opening session saw Ponting register yet another fifty, while both Clarke and Michael Hussey were victims of dubious decisions. Fifteen minutes after the lunch interval the declaration was announced, leaving India with a target of 500. Little is expected of India on day 5, of course a possibility of rain will be greatly accepted by the sub-continent team. Otherwise this game could and should be over by lunch time at the latest.