Two quick dismissals in the last 7.2 overs of Day 4 and life was expected to be difficult for the Australian batsmen on the last day of the Test match. The pitch was all dry, there was a huge rough for the left-arm spinner and Ravindra Jadeja was expected to make life difficult for the Aussie batsmen. But nothing of that sort happened, Steve Smith and Matt Renshaw started the day well and Peter Handscomb stood there till the very end to ensure it was a draw.
Here are the 5 talking points of the day:
1. Smith and Renshaw start strong
Virat Kohli chose to start with pace and spin from either end on the last day, the pacers opted for a wide outside the off-stump line and the pair of Steve Smith and Matt Renshaw was happy to leave the ball. It got them used to the wicket, the ball didn’t bite off the surface as much as it was expected and they were in little trouble.
In the first 90 minutes, the duo didn’t allow India any wickets and thus laying the foundation that saw them play through. Renshaw was the first to be dismissed for 15 and Smith was soon bowled by Ravindra Jadeja for 21 but they batted 84 and 68 balls respectively.
2. Fired up Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma was bowling an extended spell early in the day, he was running in hard trying to produce something off a wicket that was really slow. The ball wasn’t doing as much in the air either, as he was about to deliver a ball in the 29th over but there was some movement around the sight screen and Renshaw at the very last moment pulled off. The tall fast bowler wasn’t pleased, he threw the ball to the keeper in frustration and had a few words to dart at the batsman as well.
The next ball was a short ball that hit Renshaw and climbed into his helmet, the next was another good bouncer. After pushing him on the back foot Ishant followed it up with a full inswinger, he used reverse swing to bring back the ball into the left-hander which is a really difficult delivery. The ball moved a long way and the 20-year-old was hit plumb in front. Ishant’s celebration and exult described it all.
3. Steve Smith’s brain fade
After focusing really hard for the most part of the first session Smith had a moment of brain fade that cost him his wicket. Ravindra Jadeja bowled one outside the leg-stump and Smith decided to pad it off, he failed to cover the line of the ball and it pitched in the rough, really spun from there and crashed into his off-stump.
He was expecting it to hit his pads but Jadeja is never a safe bowler to shoulder arm as the pace at which he bowls tends to get him a lot more purchase than other left-arm spinners. This wicket really pumped the Indians up.
4. Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh ensure safety
After losing two wickets in the first session the Indian bowlers were on the top but this partnership between Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh killed any chance of India beating them. Marsh particularly used his feet really well against the spinners and nullified the purchase that they got from the wicket. The ball wasn’t doing much and the solidity they showed ensured there was no panic on the last day and despite a 152-run lead the Indians weren’t allowed to dominate.
Marsh was out towards the end of the day, but not before scoring his half century and batting for 197 deliveries, Handscomb batted exceptionally as well, he is one of those batsmen who loves to play against spin. He was unbeaten right through and played 200 balls for his 72.
5. Draw it is
After Australia’s 451 in the first inning it was advantage Australia, a good start for India kept them high, but a few quick wickets in the middle pushed them on the back foot but a stupendous partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha helped the Indian team post 603/9 in the first inning. Australia 23/2 at the end of day 4 suggested the game would be over earlier than expected but once again the Aussie batsmen showed a lot of character to defy the Indian spinners and ensure a draw.
Overall it was a beautiful Test match that swung towards both the teams and both the bowlers as well as batsmen had to work really hard to get wickets and score runs.