Welcome to our live report of the fifth day of the Australia-India Test from Sydney. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here
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6.10pm local time/12.40pm IST: India pull off epic draw; series still level 1-1
What an absolutely epic effort this has been from India, led by Vihari and Ashwin. Bruised and battered, unable to run properly, an injured Jadeja waiting in the wings, and they were facing a relentless bowling attack that only knows one way to bowl – with accuracy. Yet, against all odds, India have produced one of the most dramatic displays of patient batting and exemplary fighting spirit to pull off a draw that hardly anyone saw coming when the fifth day started.
With an over to spare in the day, they’re shaking hands. The relief on the faces of Vihari and Ashwin is something they’ll cherish forever. What Australia won’t cherish is the four chances they put down today, especially three by their captain Tim Paine – two off Pant and one of Vihari. The two teams have actually been taking turns every match to put down catches, and Australia won’t be pleased this time.
Might I add, it’s probably fitting that the fighting spirit India showed to salvage this draw is a great tribute to the man who turns 48 today: Rahul Dravid. Nice, little birthday gift for him.
5.35pm local time/12.05pm IST: Under 10 overs left in the day, Paine drops Vihari
Mitchell Starc around the wicket, full delivery, Vihari pokes, it’s a thick edge behind, Paine dives full length to his right and gets a glove but can’t hold on! So both these batsmen have been dropped now and the drama continues. There’s also a bit of chatter going on now between Tim Paine and R Ashwin off Lyon’s bowling. Ashwin has even been withdrawing from the stance at times. Shiva Jayaraman has been digging up some numbers meanwhile to make sense of this vigil:
This has been one of the best rearguard actions by India in their Test history. At present, this is their 10th longest fourth innings effort in terms of balls faced, and their sixth longest away from home. The last time they batted out more balls in the fourth innings was at Delhi against Pakistan in 1979-80.
It’s not been just one partnership that has held the fort as has been the case often in the past in such fourth-innings spectacles. India batsmen’s have put a prize on their wickets and have been determined to make Australia bowlers toil hard. Four batsmen – Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari and R Ahswin – have faced 100-plus balls. This is only the second time four of India’s batsmen have faced 100-plus balls in the fourth innings of a Test. Including Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, six batsmen have faced 50 or more balls in this innings, which also makes it the first instance for India when six of their batsmen have each faced at least 50 balls in the fourth innings of a Test match. (where balls-faced information is available).
There have been a few fourth-innings marathons by teams in Australia in the recent past, but a majority of these has come at venues with drop-in pitches. Such marathon efforts at the SCG – which doesn’t have a drop-in pitch – have been rare. One would have to back to the ’63-64 for a longer innings by a team in the fourth innings of a Test match at the SCG. On that occasion, South Africa batted out 117 eight-ball overs to earn a draw against the hosts.
4.45pm local time/11.15am IST: The blockathon continues
We’re down to under 20 overs for the day. A limping Vihari has faced 100 balls now for his 6 runs, Ashwin has copped a few blows in his 80-ball stay and has played the odd boundary shot too. This bruised and battered seventh-wicket stand is keeping India’s hopes of a draw alive by blocking anything that’s coming their way. And what a match it will be if India pull off a draw. It’s still a long way off though, with more than 100 balls to go, and a tail that Australia don’t take much time in wrapping up.
Mitchell Starc has not been able to produce the kind of pressure that Cummins and Hazlewood have. Lyon is still going on, with over 70 overs bowled in the match. Hazlewood is trying for reverse swing combined with some short balls, with a short leg, square leg and leg gully. Marnus Labuschagne into the attack now…
3.50pm local time/10.20am IST: The big short
We saw how Australia went short even with the second new ball in the first innings that caused a lot of trouble for the batsmen, and even hurt Pant and Jadeja physically, in the arm and thumb respectively. Right from the first ball bowled after tea, Cummins and Hazlewood have gone back to the same strategy by peppering Ashwin and Vihari with short balls. Ashwin was given caught behind first ball after tea, but saved by replays that showed he didn’t get any bat or glove. Next ball Ashwin lobbed the ball towards silly point but copped a blow on the shoulder. Ashwin is having to face most of these snorters and two of his leading edges have fallen safe, one over Cummins’ head and the other past square leg, and he has even been dropped once at square leg. Vihari, at the other end, had hurt his hamstring in the previous session and is hardly able to run for anything. Ashwin is copping one blow after another, and has an abdomen guard on now. The only respite he has got is the introduction of Lyon into the attack, but there are five fielders around apart from the wicketkeeper. Update: 25 overs left in the day now, India still have five wickets in hand.
Here are some stat alerts: where balls-faced information is available, this is the first time six (or more) India batsmen have each faced 50-plus balls in the fourth innings. And this is also India’s longest fourth innings in Australia.
3.10pm local time/9.40am IST: Another unplayable delivery to Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara was looking solid and unfazed even after Pant departed, and struck Pat Cummins for three consecutive fours soon after the new ball was taken. Josh Hazlewood, however, can get to move the ball around almost however he wants. He bowled a beauty to Shubman Gill yesterday and now he delivers another unplayable kind of delivery to Pujara: angling in towards the stumps and then it holds its line to rattle the stumps. What a big wicket for Australia! To add to India’s woes, Hanuma Vihari has hurt his hamstring while running but batted through till tea, along with R Ashwin. We also saw Ravindra Jadeja padded up in the dressing room. So looks like he’s going to bat as well at some point. At tea:
Overs left: 36
India need: 127 runs
Australia need: Five wickets
2.20pm local time/8.50am IST: If you’re a left-hand batsman, bat at No. 5
Stats man Rajesh comes up with a great observation:
What is it with No. 5 left-hand batsmen in the fourth innings of Tests lately? In the last couple of years, that combination has been an amazing concoction, starting with Kusal Perera’s unbeaten 153 and then Ben Stokes’ 135* at Headingley in 2019. Since then, there has also been Matthew Wade’s 117 at The Oval, and Fawad Alam’s 102 in the Boxing Day Test.
Rishabh Pant got to within three runs of becoming the fifth centurion in 17 innings for left-hand batsman at No.5 in the last innings of a Test. During this period, they average 68.66, compared to 23.15 for right-hand batsmen at No. 5 in the fourth innings. The only 50-plus score by a right-hander is Roston Chase’s 102* against England in Gros Islet. While left-handers at No. 5 average thrice as much as right-handers in the fourth innings, there is little to choose between them in the first three innings: 39.81 for left-handers, and 34.61 for right-hand batsmen.
2.05pm local time/8.35am IST: Pant falls short of century; Australia take the new ball
Six balls to go for the second new ball, Nathan Lyon bowling, three sixes off him already from Rishabh Pant, and he steps out again for the big heave with five fielders at the boundary, this time he doesn’t connect well at all and splices an edge to gully. Lyon has won this battle despite conceding 49 runs off his 58 balls to Pant today, and a scintillating innings comes to an end. An innings that has given India the chance to dream about what is otherwise unthinkable. Australia take the second new ball now and it’s back to Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. India still 157 away from the target after 80 overs and Hanuma Vihari comes out, R Ashwin is padded up.
This has not been Nathan Lyon’s best Test series, but that wicket of Rishabh Pant came in the nick of time for Australia. The contest between the pair was brilliant cricket. Pant was increasingly eager to take him on ahead of the new ball, connecting with a thumping lofted drive down the ground and another inside-out through cover to move to 97. When Cheteshwar Pujara pulled the first ball of the next over from Cameron Green for four there had been 23 runs scored in 12 balls – not an insignificant chunk as the target was whittled down. Then, with one over to go before the new ball, Pant could not hold back and danced down again to Lyon, this time a thick edge skewed away to backward point. Lyon roared; Pant could hardly drag himself from the crease. It had been a brilliant innings that rattled Australia and gave India a glimmer.
12.45pm local time/7.15am IST: India past halfway mark at lunch
If you were looking for two contrasting batting styles in cricket, this is it. India will be mighty pleased at lunch after losing just the one wicket and going past the halfway mark with a scintillating half-century from Rishabh Pant, who is battling an elbow injury and even copped a blow on his thumb in this session. From 5 off 33, he has raced to 73 off 97, hitting Nathan Lyon for 38 runs off 48 balls, featuring three sixes and as many fours.
Cheteshwar Pujara is doing what he does best: playing a solid innings, using his feet often against Lyon, whether to come down or go back, and patiently playing the reverse swing on offer, especially from Josh Hazlewood. Pujara will be happy to be in the background while Pant does most of the scoring, having benefited from the two chances he got from Tim Paine off Lyon. There have been a few lbw appeals against Pujara too, especially when not offering a shot against Lyon, and there was an edge that fell just short of Steven Smith at first slip. So far, luck has been on India’s side.
12pm local time/6.30am IST: Lyon to Pant – Part II
Lyon has had a change of ends, and Pant started this spell of Lyon by facing a maiden before fearlessly cracking two consecutive sixes down the ground despite Lyon having a long-off and long-on in place. And luck is on his side too. Soon after getting to his fifty off 64 balls, Pant gets another life that looks just like the first one. He pokes outside off against Lyon and Paine can’t hold on again. So Pant dropped on 3 and 56 today. And here’s Gnasher on the bigger picture with half an hour left for lunch:
Still 20 overs until the new ball, Australia will want something to happen with the old one and for catches to be held. This pitch hasn’t quite gone the way it looked it might. The bounce has remained pretty true today. As Justin Langer mentioned last night there is spin, but it’s quite slow so the batsmen have time to adjust although Nathan Lyon has created a couple of chances that haven’t been taken. Tim Paine won’t be nervous yet, 230 is a lot of runs, but they do have fairly recent history of not being able to defend a large fourth-innings total. However, for that notion to even be a faint chance Rishabh Pant will have to bat for most of the day. He’s one of the few who have been able to score freely on this surface. Meanwhile, Paine is going through plenty of options include Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green, plus a frequent change of ends for Lyon.
Sid Monga is also keeping an eye on how lucky India have been this innings:
Ninety-two wickets have fallen this series. On 798 occasions the batsmen have not been in control of the response to a delivery. That is a high rate of a wicket every nine not-in-control responses or so. In this innings, though, India have lost just three wickets despite not being in control 64 times. India have enjoyed a bit of luck in this innings, but they will just as quickly turn around and tell you they lost their whole side in 31 not-in-control responses in Adelaide so they are owed some luck.
11.20am local time/5.50am IST: Pant takes on Lyon
Rishabh Pant, batting at No. 5 for the first time in his Test career and with an injured elbow, has decided to take on one of the best spinners in the world. The duel started with Lyon inducing an outside edge off Pant’s bat early when he was on 3, but it was a tough catch for the wicketkeeper Tim Paine. And after taking his time to score 5 off 33 balls, Pant has started charging down against Lyon. With mid-on in the circle, Pant started with a loft over mid-on for four, and followed it with a six to the long-on region the very next ball. In his next over, Lyon pitched the third ball a bit too short, perhaps expecting Pant to step out, and Pant cut him for four. Next ball, Pant stepped out again and didn’t quite middle it but found the straight boundary for another four. Lyon’s last two overs have gone for 21 runs, and Paine has changed tactics to bring on Labuschagne’s legspin in place of Lyon.
Lyon to Pant until the first drinks break: 30 balls, 22 runs, strike rate 73.33, three fours and a six.
10.20am local time/4.50am IST: Lyon gets his first, Pant promoted
After toiling and toiling under the sun for 40 overs across the two innings, almost getting a wicket or two at short leg in the first innings, Lyon has a wicket and the big one of Ajinkya Rahane, with a sharp catch at short leg taken by none other than Matthew Wade who just couldn’t get to those chances when India batted first. Cheteshwar Pujara started the over by coming down on the first two balls and collecting three runs. Rahane then took strike and got a thick edge to thee fielder. And hello! Rishabh Pant has come out to bat ahead of Hanuma Vihari at No. 5. Let’s see what approach he takes here. Sid Monga chimes in on the situation:
Amid the whole debate around Pujara’s tempo in the first innings, I am sure you wondered where the team management stood on the topic. In the second innings, the team management might just have replied by promoting Rishabh Pant ahead of Hanuma Vihari to split Pujara and Vihari, who can both end up playing at the same tempo. This is a good move when the ball is around 50-60 overs old. Not so sure what purpose it serves in this innings, but the message seems to be: yes, the tempo might be an issue, and we are looking to do something about it with the limited resources we have. Also this is what R Ashwin had to say about Pant’s injury situation:
“The bruise was quite severe and it was quite painful. The elbow can be a very tricky place to deal with.”
In another development, we have confirmation that the final Test at the Gabba will go ahead after India confirmed they would travel to Brisbane, Gnasher reports. All the details here.
9.50am local time/4.20am IST: Eight wickets. 309 runs
Welcome back for the last day of the fourth Test that may very well see a result today. The hosts are obviously on top because of their full-strength and excellent attack, their local conditions, the depleted India batting line-up (without Kohli and two injured batsmen), and the pressure of batting last on a worn out pitch to save the game. If India manage to draw this, it will surely be counted as a historic effort. Gnasher, who is a bit more awake than me, says:
So what does today have in prospect? A comfortable Australia win? India defiance that falls short? The visitors save the match? Or…surely not 308 runs? You do feel that if the overnight pair are separated early things could finish fairly quickly. Rishabh Pant is carrying an elbow injury, but he is expected to bat, while Ravindra Jadeja has a dislocated thumb and may only bat if the match situation makes it worthwhile. It will be interesting to see the tactics Australia use with the ball today. They will be hoping for some reverse swing, but there could also be some uneven bounce. There’s no great pace, so bowling straight and aiming for bowled and lbws could be on the agenda. Could be a day for catches in front of the wicket rather than in the slips. Nathan Lyon has had a quiet series so far. These are conditions look ripe for him. He still needs six wickets for 400.
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo