Close on day 3: Australia 103-2 (lead of 197 runs)
A day that began with both teams deep in this contest ends with Australia strolling to victory and India in a heap.
29th over: Australia 103-2 (Labuschagne 47, Smith 29) Cricinfo tells me there are still 13 overs scheduled in the day, but both sides take an absolute age over Saini’s latest set of six with play grinding to a virtual halt. In amongst the forced pauses Smith pushes one and Labuschagne clips a leg stump half-volley for four.
28th over: Australia 97-2 (Labuschagne 42, Smith 28) Labuschagne plays out a maiden off Siraj as this long day leaks towards its conclusion.
27th over: Australia 97-2 (Labuschagne 42, Smith 28) Saini continues to bend his back but Australia are now playing safely for stumps. If there was any doubt, Nathan Lyon is padded up as nightwatchman.
26th over: Australia 96-2 (Labuschagne 41, Smith 28) Smith now has that familiar air of a man batting with a lump of wood about two metres wide. He is in position before the bowler knows where the ball is going to go. Four off Siraj’s latest over sees the lead hit 190.
25th over: Australia 92-2 (Labuschagne 40, Smith 26) Smith caresses Saini for four through extra cover in a demonstration of his form. This partnership’s runs now seem more important for what they indicate about the fourth Test than how relevant they are to this one.
24th over: Australia 86-2 (Labuschagne 39, Smith 22) Siraj has Labuschagne playing and missing outside off stump with an uncharacteristic nothing shot. After such a fluent hour or so, maybe this pair have decided to play for stumps? A clipped three later in the over suggests maybe not.
“Steve Smith is in the top few batsmen of this generation, maybe the best,” emails Abhi. Forgive my ignorance, but looking at his technique I often wonder how he would have fared against Murali or Warne who were big turners, or genuine quick reverse swingers like Akram or Waqar… On the risk of sounding a complete noob his footwork feels so weird and I often think if bowlers of old would have allowed his extremely gifted hand work to compensate for his dancing around the crease. A steamed up Akhtar would surely be too quick wouldn’t he? I remember his spell at Ponting at Perth and I wonder how Steve would have coped with that…”.
You never know Abhi, but I would counter with two responses. Firstly, anybody in cricket history would struggle against those bowlers you mention, Smith no exception. Secondly, this is a golden age of sorts for bowling. Anderson and Broad for England (especially in English conditions), New Zealand’s crew, Steyn and Rabada in SA, India’s allround corps, etc. So it isn’t as if Smith has feasted on buffet bowling for his average.
23rd over: Australia 83-2 (Labuschagne 36, Smith 22) It’s been an age since a false stroke but Bumrah squares up Smith with a beauty that whistles past the outside edge. The Australian genius settles for a rare maiden.
We’re now pretty much at the scheduled close of play – just the 19 overs behind schedule.
22nd over: Australia 83-2 (Labuschagne 36, Smith 22) Siraj returns for his second spell and Australia navigate safely, with the addition of two singles to the scoreboard.
21st over: Australia 81-2 (Labuschagne 35, Smith 21) Another glorious boundary from Smith, driving Bumrah on the up through the covers with a lovely flourish. That arrived late in an over that demonstrated more uneven bounce in this surface with a couple of balls keeping low.
The lead now 175.
20th over: Australia 77-2 (Labuschagne 35, Smith 17) Smith punches three towards the extra-cover boundary in another demonstration of this partnership’s intent. They are cruising in the evening sunlight and driving Australia into a commanding position.
Pant was also taken for scans earlier to check on the nasty blow to his elbow. Could be some important press releases later this evening.
19th over: Australia 73-2 (Labuschagne 34, Smith 14) Smith milks a couple down to fine-leg in an otherwise tight Bumrah over.
18th over: Australia 71-2 (Labuschagne 34, Smith 12) Australia really asserting themselves now with their star pair at the crease. On this occasion Smith skips down the crease then lofts Ashwin imperiously over extra cover for four, holding his pose like Freddy Mercury wielding a mic stand.
17th over: Australia 64-2 (Labuschagne 33, Smith 6) Maybe this will liven things up, back comes Bumrah for his second spell. His opening burst was disappointing, and his second begins with little menace. Labuschagne demonstrates how much in control he is at the crease with a VVS Laxman-like wristy flick for four from a delivery on middle stump.
16th over: Australia 60-2 (Labuschagne 29, Smith 6) There’s a half-shout for LBW against Labuschagne but otherwise it’s a regulation over for Australia. The sting has been removed from this contest as the shadows lengthen over the SCG.
15th over: Australia 57-2 (Labuschagne 27, Smith 5) Labuschagne has pushed hard at a few deliveries outside off today and it almost brings about his downfall. He pokes at Saini and the ball flies off the outside edge but drops an inch short of the diving Rahane in the gully. His aggression is better placed later in the over when Saini drops short and invites the controlled pull for four. Australia look very keen to keep the scoreboard ticking over, avoiding the quicksand both sides wandered into during their first digs.
The lead is now 151, already reaching the kind of territory India would not enjoy chasing.
14th over: Australia 50-2 (Labuschagne 21, Smith 4) Labuschagne doesn’t miss out on a rare Ashwin full toss, then he cuts a shorter ball away for three. Australia pass 50 in their second innings as we begin the long march towards the close of play, an unrealistic 28 overs away.
13th over: Australia 41-2 (Labuschagne 13, Smith 3) Saini continues, and not for the first time this innings a short ball doesn’t get up and Smith plays over the top of it. Horizontal bat shots are going to perilous over the next couple of days as the variable bounce increases. Drinks.
12th over: Australia 40-2 (Labuschagne 13, Smith 3) This wearing pitch is going to make chasing an absolute nightmare. Ashwin is already a handful but his side is going to struggle to overhaul Australia’s lead, which currently stands at 134.
Not out – umpire’s call
There’s no bat involved with Smith’s aggressive swipe across the line, but ball tracking shows the delivery umpire’s call for clipping leg stump when it crashes into the front pad. Considering the match situation, that was worth a gamble.
Smith is given not out onfield after missing a full delivery from Ashwin.
11th over: Australia 39-2 (Labuschagne 13, Smith 2) Better from Saini, a maiden, and he’s almost rewarded with the wicket of Labuschagne who played and missed with an expansive drive outside off stump.
India currently have Pant off the field with a suspected broken arm, Jadeja in the sheds with a busted thumb, and now Bumrah has walked off. Yikes! This is in addition to the absence of Shami, injured in Adelaide, and Ishant, who didn’t travel.
10th over: Australia 39-2 (Labuschagne 13, Smith 2) India are suddenly a couple of quick wickets from playing their way back into this match. Unfortunately for them those couple of wickets are currently defended by Australia’s premier batsmen.
WICKET! Warner LBW Ashwin 13 (Australia 35-2)
Warner is down on one knee aiming a slog sweep to a length delivery but he plays over the top of it and is hit in the midriff. DRS reveals no bat is involved and ball-tracking shows umpire’s call on height, with the ball adjudged to be clipping the top of leg stump. An unnecessarily rash shot from Warner who was playing himself into form.
Warner has been given out onfield for LBW to the second ball of Ashwin’s first over.
9th over: Australia 35-1 (Warner 13, Labuschagne 11) Navdeep Saini is handed the ball but after Warner rotates the strike Labuschagne feasts on a short wide one, slashing it through the covers with disdain. The same boundary would have been breached twice further in the over but there’s already a cover sweeper to save the bad ball.
8th over: Australia 28-1 (Warner 11, Labuschagne 6) Siraj tries to bounce Labuschagne but it doesn’t get up anywhere near enough and the Queenslander gobbles it up, pulling Ponting-like for four. That was a lovely riposte from the batsman after the bowler had a shy at the stumps in his follow through the previous delivery. Young Siraj is a feisty character, I like his energy.
7th over: Australia 24-1 (Warner 11, Labuschagne 2) Bumrah begins his fourth over by pitching too full and straight to Warner who presents the full face of the bat and watches the ball race away in the direction of the sightscreen. Increasingly at ease in the middle, Warner bludgeons a couple through the covers in trademark fashion.
6th over: Australia 18-1 (Warner 5, Labuschagne 2) Australia’s No.3 off the mark straight away with a couple worked through the onside, but that was Siraj’s over. For the second innings in a row he takes the first wicket.
WICKET! Pucovski c Saha b Siraj 10 (Australia 16-1)
Siraj’s skiddy trajectory causes Pucovski a few issues when he tries to pull a delivery that doesn’t get up as much as he expected. The Victorian responds with a much straighter blade and earns two runs as a consequence. That’s his last scoring shot though because he is undone by an absolute pearler from the young paceman. From wide on the crease the ball is angled in, lands on a perfect length, then shapes away, kissing the shoulder of Pucovski’s bat on its way through to Saha’s safe gloves. That was superb bowling.
5th over: Australia 14-0 (Warner 5, Pucovski 8) Regulation start to Australia’s inning s so far. Couple more runs off Bumrah’s latest over. The Indian star has yet to hit his straps.
4th over: Australia 12-0 (Warner 3, Pucovski 8) Siraj was all over Warner first over and he almost cleans up at the beginning of his second with a length delivery that barely bounced after pitching on a decent length. Fortunately for Australia the line was wide of off stump. As the over progressed Warner looked more assured and by its conclusion his feet and hands looked in sync and a couple of runs went his way.
3rd over: Australia 9-0 (Warner 1, Pucovski 8) Length from Bumrah but width with it, and Pucovski shows great balance, a straight bat, and carves four through the covers with crisp timing. That was a seriously impressive shot.
A slight delay in play while a member of the groundstaff comes on with a massive mallet to hammer down the footmarks. In a world where the planet’s richest man aspires to build a colony on Mars, and here we are where a billion dollar sport can involve a man with a heavy stick flattening some mud to repair a pitch based on medieval agrarian dimensions. I love cricket.
2nd over: Australia 5-0 (Warner 1, Pucovski 4) Siraj shares the new ball and he begins beautifully, keeping Warner pinned to the crease, squaring him up on a couple of occasions and finally beating the outside edge with a jaffa that deserved to kiss a faint edge.
1st over: Australia 5-0 (Warner 1, Pucovski 4) Jasprit Bumrah opens the bowling, and the star paceman needs a vintage early burst to keep India afloat in a match that has run away from them quickly this afternoon. He doesn’t start particularly threateningly. The major item of note is Pucovski’s guard, which is well outside leg stump to compensate for his sizeable trigger movement back and across. He executes that movement to perfection to the final ball of the over, getting into an A1 position to whipcrack a pull shot just in front of square leg for four. That was a confident, precise stroke.
David Warner and Will Pucovski are out in the middle for Australia. They have a long 40-over evening session to make hay while the sun shines, bolstered by a 94-run lead.
Unsurprisingly, after suffering that blow while batting, Rishabh Pant has not come out to keep during Australia’s second-innings. Wriddhiman Saha comes in as a substitue for the time being. He will be unable to bat in India’s second dig.
I’m heavily influenced by Ian Chappell in this discussion, namely that protective equipment has lulled the current generation into a false sense of security (and some bad habits) that are exposed at the very highest level.
Tea – India 244 all out (Australia lead by 94 runs)
This match has ebbed and flowed since Thursday morning, but it took a decisive turn during this afternoon session. Australia ripped through India’s middle and lower order to set themselves up for victory with a 94-run first-innings lead.
at 11.19pm EST
WICKET! Siraj c Paine b Cummins 6 (India 244)
Starc’s tail-mopping day is over, he’s replaced by the superb Pat Cummins. His first ball to Siraj is a bouncer that the batsman begins ducking under before the bowler had even reached his delivery stride! He then backs away to a length ball that he almost feathers behind, before ducking under a pretty pointless bumper. Back on a length next ball Cummins finds a regulation edge through to the keeper and the finger goes up. Siraj Reviews, because why not? And snicko confirms the innings is over.
100th over: India 244-9 (Jadeja 28, Siraj 6) Jadeja steps to leg and slaps Green down to third-man – but Pucovski is there and the single is declined. A bouncer sails harmlessly through to Paine before Jadeja fails to connect with a swipe outside off stump. A tighter line forces the batsman onto his toes, defending under his front armpit, then it’s all about Jadeja finding a single from somewhere. It almost comes from the penultimate ball but Siraj wisely gets back in his ground. Then the field comes in and Jadeja pounds a short ball into the open space for four through square leg. He’s toughing this out and doing his bit for the cause.
at 11.11pm EST
99th over: India 240-9 (Jadeja 24, Siraj 6) After a long delay Jadeja resumes his innings and immediately pushes a Starc length delivery to the right of Labuschagne at short-leg and the Queenslander almost completes a miraculous diving catch. Jadeja survives and farms the strike by gliding a bouncer down to third-man.
98.4 over: India 239-9 (Jadeja 23, Siraj 6) Great fun. Starc around the wicket to Jadeja who hooks with fast hands for four down to a very narrow fine-leg. Then he launches a huge drive to a length ball outside off that spirals into the stratosphere before landing safely halfway between Paine and the sightscreen. Jadeja, a consummate entertainer, then times a beautiful cover drive for two.
Starc responds with a tasty short ball that raps Jadeja on his gloves, sending the allrounder’s left hand – his bowling hand – flying off the handle. Off come the gloves, out comes the physio and doctor – again – and this looks like bad news for Jadeja’s left thumb.
98th over: India 231-9 (Jadeja 15, Siraj 6) With Siraj on strike Green is tossed the ball, presumably in an effort by Paine to coax a maiden Test wicket for the big allrounder. It almost arrives when the second delivery ghosts past the off bail but thereafter a poor short ball precedes runs, first a push for two, then a very handsome square cut for four. Another poor bumper completes a disappointing over.
97th over: India 225-9 (Jadeja 15, Siraj 0) Death or glory now for Jadeja who larrups Starc for four towards cow corner, then bottom edges a mighty slog almost directly behind the stumps for another boundary. Can Siraj survive the start of the next over?
WICKET! Bumrah run out (Labuschagne) 0 (India 215-9)
Three run outs for the innings, eight for the series, India are imploding at the SCG. The latest calamity is another superb piece of fielding from Australia, this time Marnus Labuschagne sprinting from short-leg to midwicket to hunt down the ball and throw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end with Bumrah failing to complete a sharp second.
at 11.18pm EST
96th over: India 215-8 (Jadeja 6, Bumrah 0) India’s first-innings deficit will be determined by how many runs Jadeja can muster with the tail. He collects five off Lyon’s latest over, most of them with a wristy cut behind point delivered in the manner of his sword swishing milestone celebration.
95th over: India 210-8 (Jadeja 1, Bumrah 0) This has been a match-defining session. In time it may prove to be a series-defining one.
WICKET! Saini c Wade b Starc 4 (India 210-8)
Mitchell Starc returns to blow away the tail and after a couple of sighters he sends down a brute to Saini that the debutant fends timidly in the air into the offside but there’s no fielder to accept the chance. An almost identical ball follows which loops off the shoulder of an apologetically placed bat but drops short of gully. That forces Tim Paine to call in a short cover – and guess what? Another ball on the same line and length, another limp fend, and it’s straight to Wade under the lid exactly where his skipper positioned him. Tim.Paine.Hannibal.I.Love.It.When.A.Plan.Comes.Together.gif
at 10.45pm EST
94th over: India 208-7 (Jadeja 1, Saini 2) Lyon rattles through a quick over to Saini worth one single. An engrossing Test that threatened to reach a gripping conclusion on a wearing fifth-day pitch now looks to be one-way traffic.
at 10.36pm EST
93rd over: India 207-7 (Jadeja 1, Saini 1) Replays of that run out do not reflect well on Ashwin. That was textbook how not to back-up. Ball-watching, not trusting his partner’s call, slow to run, no dive, no attempt to cross the line of the throw. Awful cubed. Quite how India have conspired for two run outs in a match where they’ve barely scored above two rpo is quite the accomplishment.
WICKET! Ashwin run out (Cummins) 10 (India 206-7)
Sheesh, calamity for India. What on earth are they doing? Cameron Green is called into the attack and from his second ball Jadeja dabs into the offside and sets off for a sharp – but gettable single. Ashwin is awfully slow out of the blocks and looks like he’s running in slow motion, like one of those post-cheese night terrors. Cummins is alert at mid-off and his throw is right over the bails to allow Labuschagne to complete a gift of a wicket. Australia are suddenly in a dominant position.
at 10.35pm EST
92nd over: India 206-6 (Jadeja 1, Ashwin 10) Nathan Lyon gets an early look at the second new ball. He could cause mayhem with the harder Kookaburra on a surface that is noticeably deteriorating. Ashwin watches the first ball of the over misbehave outside off stump so he charges ball two, meets it on the half-volley, and drives through mid-off for four. The rest of the over is cat-and-mouse with Lyon alternating between straighter overspinning deliveries and slower tempters outside off, inviting further attacking strokes.
91st over: India 202-6 (Jadeja 1, Ashwin 6) Pat Cummins continues around the wicket to Jadeja, mixing up a full length targeting the pads and short balls targeting the Indian left-handers magnificent mane. A maiden ensures. Cummins has figures of 3/29 from 21 overs. Bloody hero.
Thank you very much Mr Lemon. Don’t forget the pancakes.