Ashwin strikes to remove Finch as Australia chase 323

Vastavam web: India remained in driver’s seat despite lower-order collapse as Australia lost opener Aaron Finch’s wicket at the stroke of tea in pursuit of a stiff target of 323 on the fourth day of the first Test on Sunday. Aaron Finch (11), survived a loud leg before appeal on zero off Ishant Sharma’s second ball of the second innings. He went for DRS review and the decision was turned because it was a no ball.

Ashwin however nabbed just before tea as the ball brushed his gloves before looping up for keeper Rishabh Pant to claim an easy catch. Marcus Harris (14 batting) was unbeaten at the other end. India only added 47 runs for their last five wickets after resumption of play post lunch.

Rishabh Pant (28) continued attacking Nathan Lyon (6-122) but didn’t last long as a wild swing found the fielder at deep cover. It started the Indian slide. Ashwin (5) and Ajinkya Rahane (70) played uncharacteristic strokes, indicating that a declaration was forthcoming. But India never got to that point. Ashwin was caught pulling in the deep off Mitchell Starc (3-40) while Rahane was out caught reverse sweeping. Mohammed Shami (0) was out caught first ball, wildly swinging at Lyon.

Starting from overnight 151 for 3, India made good progress through the first session as Pujara and Rahane ground down the Australian attack with an 87-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Pujara started on a positive note with successive fours early in the day’s play. India’s main threat came from Nathan Lyon (3-92), who was using the rough on the pitch to trouble the batsmen. Rahane survived an appeal for a catch in the 74th over via DRS when replays showed that the bat was nowhere near the ball. India’s 200 had came up in the 77th over while their 50-partnership came off 103 balls. Pujara reached his 20th Test half-century off 140 balls. Australia finally got a breakthrough with Pujara out caught at short leg, off Lyon in the 88th over as the ball looped up.

He walked off to a standing ovation from the Sunday crowd, having faced 450 balls in this match, the second-most for an Indian batsman in a Test on Australian soil after Sachin Tendulkar (525 at Sydney, 2004). Rohit Sharma (1) came to the crease thereafter, but left quickly, caught at silly point smartly by Peter Handscomb as Lyon picked up his third wicket.