Australia establish strong position

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Published: Friday 9th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Australia set the platform for a final-day push for victory in the fourth Test against India after establishing a 348-run lead with four wickets remaining in Sydney.

After bowling out India for 475 in the afternoon session to establish a first-innings advantage of 97, Australia’s batsmen then went on the offensive as the hosts blazed their way to 251 for six by the close.

In-form captain Steve Smith (71) and opener Chris Rogers (56) laid the foundations before newcomer Joe Burns smashed 66 off 39 balls to leave Australia in a strong position to try and seal a 3-0 series victory.

Ravichandran Ashwin (four for 105) was the most successful of the India bowlers but did not escape the onslaught either as Australia progressed at almost six and a half runs an over.

Ashwin had, at least, been able to frustrate Australia with the bat earlier, making 50 as the tourists battled their way to 475 all out at the SCG after starting the morning on 342 for five.

It was not such a good day for India captain Virat Kohli, though.

Striding out to the middle, Kohli would have hoped to make considerable additions to his overnight 140 but he could add only seven before falling in the fifth over of the day, caught by Rogers at midwicket off Ryan Harris.

Wriddhiman Saha’s exit was not much better as Josh Hazlewood found some bounce and the wicketkeeper was caught in two minds as he top-edged to Smith at slip to exit for 35.

Burns put down a tough chance to dismiss new man Bhuvneshwar Kumar and he and Ashwin managed to steer the tourists through to lunch just seven down.

And the pair put on a battling 65 to further frustrate Australia before Kumar fell for 30 in controversial fashion. Nathan Lyon’s ball appeared to pitch in the same place as the bat hit the ground with the ball going to Shane Watson at slip. There was a slight appeal and when the umpires went upstairs, the wicket was given.

Ashwin then brought up his fourth Test 50 off 110 balls but fell to the next one he faced as Mitchell Starc found the edge and Brad Haddin gobbled up the chance behind the stumps.

Mohammed Shami hammered 14 off the next over as India crept within a hundred of the Australian first innings and Umesh Yadav (four) got them there with a boundary before top-edging Harris to Haddin to leave Shami stranded on 16.

That left the tourists with a deficit of 97 but they got off to an excellent start in the field as Ashwin found David Warner’s edge and Murali Vijay took a catch at slip to remove the opener for four.

The hosts reached 38 for one at tea but Watson was gone shortly after as Ashwin found the edge again but this time it was the bottom edge as the all-rounder chopped on for 16.

Australia were looking to attack and Smith hit four fours in an over as the lead raced past 200.

Smith then hit an enormous six off Ashwin before Rogers reached a half-century for the sixth consecutive innings but he was gone five balls later, pulling Kumar to Suresh Raina at deep square leg for 56.

Smith registered his own fifty off just 44 balls with a four before Shaun Marsh fell for just one, edging a beauty from Ashwin to Vijay at slip.

Wickets were not halting home momentum, though, as the Australians kept the rate up but Smith was next to go for 71, trapped in front by Shami.

With the captain gone having taken his run tally in the series to a phenomenal 769, Burns and Haddin took matters into their own hands, finding the boundary almost at will and hammering sixes in three consecutive overs to take the lead past 300.

Burns was the last wicket of the day to fall having made his second 50 of the match when he top-edged a sweep off Ashwin in what turned out to be the last over, but by then Australia had already batted themselves into a powerful position.

Published: Friday 9th January 2015 by The News Editor

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