Australia lose Finch at the stroke of tea in steep chase

09 December 2018 12:58 Sports Desk

India's batting blew hot and cold for nearly two sessions on Day 4 as they ended up setting Australia a target of 323. Nathan Lyon picked up a six-wicket haul as India lost their last seven wickets for 73 runs to be bowled out for 307. Earlier in the day, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane scored fifties to extend India's advantage, only for it to be cut down sharply with the second session collapse.

Both the overnight batsmen, Pujara and Rahane, put on an 87-run stand for the fourth wicket to start the day well for India. After a largely luckless session, Lyon was rewarded with the wickets of Pujara for 71 and Rohit Sharma (1) in quick succession, but by then India had got into a position of comfort.

That had come about with both batsmen continuing to negate the threat of Lyon around the footmarks with decisive footwork. Australia's pacers remained unthreatening with the second new ball, making Lyon Australia's sole wicket-taking danger.

Pujara continued to use his pads to good effect against Lyon, getting a fifty to add to his hundred in the first innings, while Rahane cashed in on the loose offerings from the bowlers to get to his 16th Test fifty.

With their contributions helping India get 109 runs in the first session, the visitors went into the break with an overall lead of 275 and threatening to bat Australia out of the game.

Post the break, Rishabh Pant came out swinging against Lyon, hitting him for three fours and a six off consecutive deliveries. However, his short cameo was cut down with Lyon having him caught at deep extra cover.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma succumbed to short-pitched deliveries from Mitchell Starc while Rahane was Lyon's fifth victim, reverse-sweeping to point. The quick wrap-up of the innings left Australia with a glimmer of hope, despite the daunting target ahead of them.

The chase could have gone wrong early with Ishant Sharma trapping Aaron Finch LBW with an incoming delivery once again. But Finch's optimistic DRS call helped overturn the decision despite it being umpire's call as Ishant was seen to have overstepped.

But that slice of luck was not enough for Finch, who was given out caught bat-pad in the last over before Tea off Ashwin to give India a boost at the break. Intriguingly, he consulted his opening partner and eventually decided against reviewing the decision, even as replays showed that there was no bat or glove involved.

Brief scores: India 250 and 307 (KL Rahul 44, Cheteshwar Pujara 71, Ajinkya Rahane 70; Nathan Lyon 6-122) lead Australia 235 (Travis Head 72; Jasprit Bumrah 3-47 R Ashwin 3-57) and 28/1 by 295 runs

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