Ashwin bowls India to series-levelling win

India 189 (Rahul 90, Lyon 8-50) and 274 (Pujara 92, Rahane 52, Rahul 51, Hazlewood 6-67) beat Australia 276 (S Marsh 66, Renshaw 60, Jadeja 6-63) and 112 (Ashwin 6-41) by 75 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Australia favourites going into the fourth innings?

India have applied a defibrillator to this series, surging to a dramatic victory on the fourth day against Australia in Bengaluru. After the first day of this Test, it was hard to tell what was deader: India’s hopes of regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, or any stray blades of grass that somehow remained on the dry pitch. Nathan Lyon had just taken eight wickets, India had been rolled for 189, and Australia had gone to stumps on 40 for 0. But then came three days of Indian fightback.

It all culminated in a thrilling fourth day, which began with a six-wicket haul from Josh Hazlewood as India were bowled out for 274. That gave Australia renewed hope: on a cracking surface with variable bounce, a target of 188 would be tough, but not impossible. And with the score moving quickly, at 42 for 1 Australia were perhaps favourites. The pressure was inescapable: on the batsmen, on the umpires, and on the Indians to live up to their dominant reputation at home.

And then the wickets began to tumble, the DRS played its inevitable role, and by the time R Ashwin had Lyon caught and bowled in the 36th over, India had triumphed by 75 runs. Ashwin finished 6 for 41 and it marked the first time in history that four different bowlers – Lyon, Ashwin, Hazlewood and Ravindra Jadeja – had taken six-wicket hauls in the same Test. It was that sort of match: wickets fell in quick succession and momentum was hard to stop.

In many ways, this result was simply the resumption of normal service. There was a glitch in proceedings in Pune, where Australia ended India’s sequence of 20 home Tests without a loss. The malfunction looked like continuing after day one in Bengaluru, but for the remainder of the match India scrapped, wrestled, and fought their way back into the contest. And every time Australia looked like regaining the advantage, India wrested it back.

Full report to follow

At tea on the fourth day in Bengaluru, only one thing was certain: this Test would not be a draw. But a trophy-securing win for Australia? A series-levelling victory for India? A tie? Any of those outcomes seemed plausible. A session full of tension finished with Australia needing 87 runs to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, and their brisk run-rate gave them a chance. But India required only four wickets, and on this pitch, such strikes could come quickly.

Set 188 to win on a dry, cracking surface offering variable bounce, the Australians went to tea on 101 for 6, having just lost Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade shortly before the break. Those strikes made India the favourites, though Australia would not have been unhappy at the tea break halting India’s momentum. The key man for Australia was Peter Handscomb, the last remaining member of the top six, who had used his feet well and went to tea on 19.

It was a session in which every ball felt like a possible wicket, and in which every run was cheered by the Australians. It was also a session in which Australia’s use of the DRS cost them. David Warner was given out early in the session, lbw trying to sweep R Ashwin on 17, and his review was struck down when umpire’s call was shown for impact and off stump. The loss of that review almost certainly prevented Shaun Marsh using one five overs later.

Marsh had shouldered arms to Umesh Yadav, who was coming around the wicket, and was given out by umpire Nigel Llong when struck on the pad. Unsure whether he should ask for a review, Marsh consulted his partner, Steven Smith, and the end result was that Marsh walked off. A review would have saved him: it was a poor decision from Llong, the ball clearly going to miss off stump by some distance.

The review system was again in the spotlight soon afterwards when Smith was struck by a grubber from Umesh, and seemed to signal to the Australian dressing room for advice on whether to have the call reviewed. Llong stepped in to prevent the communication, Virat Kohli also objected, and Smith walked off for 28. A review would have been futile: he couldn’t have been plumber if he’d been wearing a Super Mario costume.

Mitchell Marsh struck three quick boundaries before he was caught in close off Ashwin for 13, and Wade could not survive until tea, out for a fifth-ball duck when his inside edge lobbed off his pad and up for Wriddhiman Saha to take a diving catch. It left Australia six down, after the session had began with Matt Renshaw edging behind an excellent seamer from Ishant Sharma.

Lunch had marked the innings break after Josh Hazlewood led an excellent bowling display from the visitors and picked up 6 for 67. Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc were both devastating during a new-ball spell that earned Australia five wickets in 19 deliveries, before a last-wicket partnership between Wriddhiman Saha and Ishant Sharma nudged India’s lead to 187.

Hazlewood’s figures were the best by an Australia fast bowler in a Test innings in India for 37 years, since Geoff Dymock claimed 7 for 67 at Kanpur in October 1979. India started the morning at 213 for 4 and hoped to extend their lead past 200, but the work of Australia’s fast bowlers made that a difficult ask, and India were bowled out for 274, having added 61 to their overnight total for the loss of their last six wickets.

Starc started the carnage by swinging the new ball in to Ajinkya Rahane, who on 52 was rapped on the pad and given not out by umpire Llong. However, Smith opted for a review and it was a good one for Australia as the decision was overturned. Next ball, Karun Nair failed to handle Starc’s pace and swing and tickled an inside edge onto his stumps, and such was the ferocity of the delivery that the leg stump shattered on impact.

Starc’s hat-trick delivery was negotiated by Saha, if not concvincingly then at least effectively, but in the next over Hazlewood picked up an even more important wicket. Cheteshwar Pujara looked set for a century, having resumed on 79, but on 92 he failed to handle a shortish Hazlewood ball that was fended to gully, where Mitchell Marsh took the catch. Three balls later, R Ashwin was bowled by one that stayed low, and Hazlewood had two in the over.

In Hazlewood’s next over he accounted for Umesh, who swung hard and was caught at mid-off, and it looked as tough Australia might run through the tail quickly. But Ishant and Saha hung in for a 16-run tenth-wicket stand that could yet prove crucial, and which ended when Ishant drove a catch to cover off the spin of Steve O’Keefe.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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