On a day of fluctuating fortunes, Australia made a spirited fightback but India rallied to gain a slender lead of four runs after the second day of the fourth Test at Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium. After Peter Siddle and James Pattinson took Australia to a challenging 262, the home team chartered on an uncertain course before finishing the day at 266 for 8.
There was variable bounce and turn. India needed a strong temperament and skilful batting to negotiate the turn on this uneven wicket. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon (5 for 94) put up a lion-hearted performance as he scalped five out of the eight wickets that fell in the Indian innings on Saturday.
With skipper Shane Watson employing Lyon from one end and fast bowlers at the other end, he put pressure on the Indian batsmen. Lyon, who bowled a long spell of 22 overs, found the pitch to his liking. He tossed up the ball, was slower through the air and got good purchase from the wicket. He settled into a good rhythm to trouble the Indian batsmen.
The Indian think-tank decided to open with Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara. The duo continued their good run. Vijay’s initial boundaries came through the third man region while Pujara executed some fine drives through the covers. Pujara went on to make 52 before he was deceived by Lyon to be bowled. However, the opening pair had shared 108 runs.
Buoyed by the success, Lyon soon had Virat Kohli, who was promoted ahead of Ajinkya Rahane. The batsman played across and umpire Kettleborough had no hesitation in giving the lbw decision. Vijay, who began to flourish with his on-drives, posted yet another half-century. However, Siddle, Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson reverse swung the ball and tested Vijay with bouncers. Siddle set up Vijay before unleashing an unplayable ball which rose disconcertingly. An evasive Vijay could not move away and the resultant edge was taken by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.
Rahane, who came at number five, spent 21 uncomfortable minutes. He looked shaky before turning a Lyon delivery to backward short-leg fielder’s hands.
Tendulkar, who arrived at the crease to a familiar ovation, struck five fours in his 32. But after staying for 100 minutes, the master batsman made the mistake of going back to a Lyon delivery and was plumb in front.
The Aussies went for the kill. They snapped up Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had swung the match in India’s favour at Chennai with a well executed plan. Pattinson dug in one short and Dhoni swung straight into Shane Watson’s hands at square leg. However, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja stood firm to keep the Australians at bay with a 44-run stand.
Maxwell broke the partnership by having Jadeja. Changing ends, Lyon trapped Ashwin in front to make it a profitable day for the Aussies. Resuming from his overnight score of 41, Siddle completed his maiden half-century. The number nine Aussie batsman’s resistance finally came to an end when he became Ashwin’s fifth victim. The ball spun marginally to beat the defensive bat of Siddle (bowled). But by then Australia had put up a fighting total.
Australia added 126 runs through Smith, Siddle, Pattinson and Lyon.