Finally the Indian tail wagged after Virat Kohli’s early dismissal. R Ashwin led the way with a well compiled half century, while B Kumar 30 (75) and M Shami 16 (26) provided good support to Ashwin. As far as Australia was concerned their bowling continued to be good. The Indian innings folded just before tea at a score of 475 thereby, giving Australia a lead of 97 runs.
Australia came out to bat in their second innings in an aggressive mood but, they were rocked by the early dismissal of the first innings centurion David Warner of the bowling of Ashwin caught at first slip by Murali Vijay. Rogers and Watson ensured there was no further loss of wickets till tea. However, Australia lost Watson soon after tea. This brought the inform Aussie skipper Steven Smith who notched yet another score of 50 in the series. The Aussie batsmen went on a leather hunt, dispatching the lackluster Indian bowlers with disdain. Umesh Yadav proved to be the most expensive conceding 45 runs in just three overs. At the end of the day’s play Australia piled on 251 for the loss of 6 wickets with a lead of 348 runs. There is a possibility that Steven Smith might declare overnight.
The weather outlook for the final day would be partly cloudy with chances of thunderstorms. The Indians would be praying for rain as batting on the last day pitch would be very difficult. Draw seems the most likely result of this Test match. An interesting day’s of cricket lies ahead.
Day 3 Update: India fought their way to a commendable 342/5 on Day 3 of the Sydney Test. Young KL Rahul justified his selection and notched up his maiden Test ton, while captain Virat Kohli brought up a flamboyant 10th Test century. Australia bowled with discipline and were awarded with four wickets including a double strike from Watson. The Aussie fielding, was poor to say the least, with captain Smith himself dropping both Kohli (on 59) and Rahul (on 46). India now trail by 230 runs as the Sydney Test seems to be heading for a draw.
The weather, as predicted by Skymet, remained clear on Day 3 with bright sunshine presiding over the proceedings at the SCG. The conditions were perfect for a full day's play and fans turned out in huge numbers to watch the 'Pink Test'. Weather forecast for Day 4 suggests a possibility of showers but no major delay is expected.
Earlier in the day, the overnight pair of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul started cautiously.. Sharma (53), however, fell soon after bringing up his half-century. KL Rahul was then joined by in form batsman Virat Kohli. The duo added 141 runs for the third wicket as Rahul (110) brought up his maiden Test century. Except for a couple of occasions, which involved a dropped catch and a close shave while trying to steal a quick single, Rahul showed a lot of character and temperament in his 262-ball hundred. But the young opener gave away his wicket while trying to pull one and was caught by Starc off his own bowling. Ajinkya Rahane walked out to join captain Kohli but was unlucky to be adjudged LBW for a paltry 13 off 31 as the replays showed that the ball was missing the stumps. Suresh Raina, who is making a comeback to Test cricket after 2012, too disappointed as he fell first ball while poking one outside the off stump. This brought Wriddhiman Saha out in the middle who dealt with 50 deliveries and supported Kohli to see the day through without any further casualties.
Meanwhile, Virat Kohli (140* not out) was quick to change gears as the day progressed and brought up his fourth century of the series. In the process, Kohli went past Rahul Dravid's record of highest runs (619 in 2003-04) in a Test series by an Indian batsman in a Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. Kohli and Steve Smith are now in line to equal or break Don Bradman's all-time record of 715 runs in an India-Australia series.
The first session of Day 4 will surely decide the course of the match. While Australia will look to wipe out the Indian tail without conceding too many runs, India will rely on Virat Kohli to get a monster hundred in order retrieve a draw. The likes of Saha, Ashwin, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will also be crucial in decreasing the run deficit for India. As for Australia, Nathan Lyon will look to exploit a wearing out Day 4 surface at the SCG with the faster bowlers putting pressure from the other end. Skymet will keep you updated on weather, cricket, and more for the fourth and final Test at Sydney.
Day 2 update: After Australia dominated the 1st day of the fourth Test match by piling on a mammoth score of 572/7, the second day of the match started off with fair weather conditions and there were no interruptions during the day.
Aussie captain Steven Smith in a purple patch notched up yet another century. It seems that Indian bowlers have not been able to devise a plan to dislodge Steven Smith. The Indian bowlers bowled with a lot of control especially Ashwin. During the morning session only 72 runs were scored despite the Indian fielders dropping catches. Smith and Watson started of the day at a score of 348/2 and were involved in a 196 run partnership before Shami removed Watson 81(183) at a score of 400. Fifteen runs later Smith was removed, caught behind, of the bowling of Umesh Yadav. This brought Shaun Marsh and Joe Burns together and they shared yet another century partnership. Both batsmen completed their half centuries and were dismissed by Shami. Marsh scored 73 of 151 balls and Joe Burns scored his maiden half century as he scored 58 of 144 balls. Australia soon declared their innings at 572/7.
The Indian innings started off on a shocking note, as the in form Murli Vijay was dismissed for a duck in the very first over of the Indian Innings. He was dismissed of the bowling of Starc. The new number three for India Rohit Sharma and the new comer KL Rahul steadied the ship and stitched an unbeaten 71 run partnership and ensured that there was no further loss.
The prospects of an interesting day 3 is evident as the weather is expected to be bright and sunny. The temperatures will settle in the mid 20s with moderate breeze. It will be interesting to see India’s tactics on day 3 of the Test match. However, with Kohli in charge, a counter attack is very much on the cards.
Day 1 Update: Australia reached 348 for 2 at the close of play on Day 1 of the Sydney Test. Captain Steven Smith 82* (134) and Shane Watson 61* (132) steered Australia past 300 after a 200-run opening stand between Warner and Rogers. Australia dominated all three sessions on Day 1 with Indian bowlers made to run helter skelter. The hosts will now look to reach a dominating first innings total stretching past the 500-run mark.
The day began with overcast conditions but no delay was experienced. Weather forecast for Day 2 suggests slight chances of morning or late afternoon showers. The maximum temperature for the day is expected to be 28°C and the minimum is estimated at 21°C. A breeze measuring 15-25 kmph will continue to blow on Day 2.
Earlier in the day, captain Steven Smith decided to bat first after winning the toss. The opening duo of Warner and Rogers did not disappoint their captain and added 200 to the scoreboard in almost no time. An emotional Warner, when on 63*, paused for a while and paid tribute to Phil Hughes. Warner (101) completed his third hundred of the series while Chris Rogers notched up his fifth consecutive half century. Rogers (95), however, fell five short of his second consecutive hundred. A flurry of boundaries in the post-lunch session propelled Australia to 200/0 before Ashwin removed Warner and Shami picked up Rogers in the next over. Watson was then joined by Steven Smith in the middle and the two batsmen added 144 runs for the 3rd wicket.
Meanwhile, India braved four changes in their line-up with Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar included in the Playing XI. Interestingly, India opted to stick with just one specialist spin bowler despite the spin-friendly nature of SCG. Bhuvi failed to procure any swing whatsoever and bowled rather gingerly. Shami and Yadav also took a beating as Indian bowling was mostly ordinary. Only Ashwin and part-timer Raina bowled sensibly maintaining some pressure. India's slip-fielding continued to disappoint with KL Rahul dropping Rogers (on 19) and Ashwin dropping Watson in the last over of the day. Overall, the Indian team looked clueless and beaten as the Aussie batsmen continued to pummel the visitors.
Day 2 of Sydney Test will see Australia pushing for a 500+ total while the Indian bowlers will have to execute a miraculous turnaround in order to restrict the green baggies to the score of 400-450. Skymet will keep you updated on weather and more as the action unfolds at Sydney.
Match Preview: In the backdrop of Dhoni's retirement, Phil Hughes' tragic death, and the clash of two young captains, the fourth and final Test between India and Australia will kick off at Sydney on a cloudy morning with possibility of a shower. Australia has already registered an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four match Test series with the last Test at Melbourne ending in a draw. For the first time in the series, Virat Kohli and Steve Smith will confront each other as captains. While Australia will look to record their third win of the series, India will come out all guns blazing in an attempt to procure a consolation win.
The weather forecast for the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) suggests partly cloudy conditions with possibility of short Thunderstorms on all days. Except for Day 3, there's a possibility of showers on rest of the days with maximum probability of showers on Day 5. The maximum temperatures are expected to settle between 27°C and 30°C, while the minimums are expected to stay between 20°C and 22°C. Moderate humidity (ranging between 60-75%) and a decent breeze will also be experienced on all five days.
Coming back to cricket per se, the SCG is a spin-friendly track. The 'five-bowler' theory will surely come into play for both sides with special emphasis on spin bowling. While Australia have been quick and wise to call in the wildly paced Mitchell Starc in place of an injured Mitchell Johnson, India will face a selection dilemma between Karn Shama and Akshar Patel. While Karn Sharma was largely ineffective in the Adelaide Test, Akshar seems like a more reliable option as the slow left arm orthodox bowler is no muck with the bat either. Also, the return of Varun Aaron may push a wayward Shami out of the Playing XI. Additionally, the curious case of a recovering Bhuvneshwar Kumar has cast more doubts on India's final bowling line-up. Meanwhile, wicket-keeping batsman Wriddhiman Saha has been sought as replacement for MS Dhoni. It will be interesting to note whether an out of form Shikhar Dhawan makes way for Suresh Raina or will young KL Rahul face the axe.
The fourth and final Test at the SCG will be, in every way, an emotional Test for the Australian side. This is the same ground where Phil Hughes fell and the grief, for most, is still too near. The hard-hitting banter and animated gesturing of the last two games may also be missing from the final encounter. In any case, Kohli's aggressive captaincy is expected to reach greater heights and will hopefully be more productive on this occasion. Meanwhile, the Aussies will look to finish, what has been a successful tour, on a high note by sealing a 3-0 series win. Skymet will keep you updated on weather and more as the cherry rolls at the SCG.
Photo: © BCCI (Main Image)