The fourth Test is going to day five with Australia’s second innings only just beginning six overs before stumps were called in Ahmedabad.
It leaves the Test heading for an almost certain draw after it took nearly four days to complete a first innings for each team.
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Virat Kohli hit a wonderful century, his 28th, ending a 1206-day drought since his last Test hundred as he was the final man dismissed for 186.
But it once again raises questions about the pitch for the fourth and final Test.
Pitches have been a hot topic in this series between Australia and India after the three Tests were finished inside three days.
Crumbling dustbowls, including the Indore wicket which appeared to be little more than rubble from day one, are what the world has come to expect when touring India.
As a traditionally spin friendly nation, why wouldn’t the nation play to its strengths?
Australia pitches have their own flavour, with Aussies choosing to highlight the pace and bounce our quick bowlers prefer.
As frustrating as it was for Australian fans, particularly in the first two Tests which saw monumental collapses hand the visitors’ crushing losses, at least it had been a battle between the sides’ spin bowlers.
Brutal batting conditions saw wickets fall at any moment with variable bounce and movement meaning batters were making little more than a guess at where the ball was going.
But with the series 2-1, Australia were hoping to win to draw the Border-Gavaskar series, after the humiliating losses in the opening two Tests.
However, with India needing a win to secure its place in the World Test Championship final — a draw would allow Sri Lanka the possibility of sneaking in via two wins in its two-Test series against New Zealand — the Ahmedabad curators went way too far in the opposite direction.
It’s been a road with Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli all smashing big centuries.
Talking to Dinesh Karthik and Ravi Shastri just before the third new ball, Harsha Bhogle said he felt the pendulum had swung too far the other way.
“15 wickets have fallen over four days, we’ve gone the other extreme,” Bhogle said.
Karthik replied: “We need to talk about these numbers — 91 wickets over 7 days and 15 wickets over 4 days.”
“So what do you want, this kind of a pitch or the other pitches?” Shastri said. “You don’t want to finish in three days yes, totally agree, but that could also be because of incompetent batting.”
Bhogle replied: “I think we went too far the other side.”
But Shastri wasn’t done.
“I hope all those whingers about Indian pitches are happy now,” he said.
It comes after the Indore pitch was rated “poor” after the Nagpur and Delhi pitches were both rated “average”.
While most cricket fans prefer a battle between bat and ball where either could dominate, rarely do those pitches seem to truly eventuate.
And fans were left fuming over a boring four days of the fourth Test between the world’s two top ranked cricket nations.
However, there could still be a result in the match, although there is almost no chance of Australia wrestling a result.
India were finally dismissed for 571 when Kohli holed out on 186.
It’s a lead of 91 and Australia would have to get ahead and then pile on enough runs to try and bowl India out, which proved exceedingly difficult in the first innings.
Axar Patel’s 79 off 113 balls showed just how true the wicket was, hitting four sixes and five fours before his stumps were skittled by Mitchell Starc.
As for India, there is hope.
At lunch, Brad Haddin said on Fox Cricket that India are trying to bat long enough that “when Australia go into bat, they have nothing to play for.”
He said that could be all that decides a result as “it’s dangerous to bat when there’s nothing to play for.”
Australia finished the day 0/3 with Travis Head on 3 alongside nightwatchman Matt Kuhnemann on 0, 88 runs behind India.
10.45pm – Australia survive
India have bowled six overs and Matt Kuhnemann and Travis Head are still batting.
While there’s not much to play for on day five, a draw would put keep the World Test Championship final placings alive with Sri Lanka able to jump into second position if India draw with two wins in New Zealand
10.00pm – India dismissed for 571
India are finally all out after two days, leaving just one day to complete the second innings.
After 91 wickets fell in about 7 days worth of cricket in the first three Tests, 20 wickets have fallen for 1051 runs over four days in Ahmedabad.
Kohli was the last man out for an incredible 186.
But he was ably assisted by Axar Patel, who smashed 79 off 113 balls including five fours and four sixes in his innings before he was bowled by Mitchell Starc.
8.20pm – India hit the front
In the final session on day four, India have surpassed Australia’s first innings total.
Through almost four days we’ve seen more than 960 runs scored with Virat Kohli closing in on reaching the 150 mark.
6.15pm – Kohli snaps insane century drought
Virat Kohli has saluted the heavens for the first time in Test cricket in more than three years after reaching triple figures on Sunday.
It had been 1206 days since his last Test century, but on a pitch offering little to the bowlers he showed his class as he punished the Aussie attack.
The century makes it number 28 for him throughout his historic Test career. 16 of which have come against Australia.
6.05pm – Lyon strikes again
Nathan Lyon has done the trick by removing Srikar Bharat, the man who had the crowd up and off their feet with his masterful hitting.
From around the wicket the Aussie spinner got one to bite off the pitch, catching the inside edge of Bharat as it hit his pad and spooned in the air before it was comfortably taken by Peter Handscomb.
5.50pm – Indian star dispatches Green to all parts
Cameron Green just had an over to forget as Srikar Bharat pummeled him to all parts of the ground.
After getting Virat Kohli off strike, the towering Aussie was hoisted over the rope in back-to-back deliveries before changing tactics.
The slight change didn’t slow Bharat down as he cut one behind point for four. A total of 21 runs came off the over which included two no balls.
5.10pm – Kohli nears first ton in three years
Virat Kohli is looking to end a three-year test century drought and has moved to 88 at lunch of day four.
India are in no rush and apart from a rush of blood from Ravindra Jadeja saw Australia claim just one wicket in the session.
India are content on chasing the draw at this point, and still trail by 118 runs on the first innings.
Australia need the win to draw the series but India seem content to play for a draw or gamble that Australia will once again implode with the series gone.
Brad Haddin said India are trying to bat long enough that “when Australia go into bat, they have nothing to play for.”
He said that could be all that decides the result as “it’s dangerous to bat when there’s nothing to play for.”
3.35pm – ’What has happened?’ Brain fade costs India
India have lost its fourth wicket after Ravindra Jadeja got himself out for 28, chipping a Todd Murphy ball to Usman Khawaja at mid-on.
It was a bizarre moment as India were looking to consolidate their innings, having batted patiently in the first half an hour of the day.
“What has he done here?” Harsha Bhogle exclaimed. “The last couple of deliveries, Ravindra Jadeja has played shots completely out of character with what he’s done for the rest and has given Australia a wicket on a platter.”
Sunil Gavaskar was equally perplexed.
“What has happened?” he said. “Did somebody say anything to him?
“Then suddenly this particular over he’s gone the aerial route.
“What is this shot? Kohli’s not impressed, the changeroom’s not going to be impressed, I can tell you that, Rahul Dravid the coach, is not going to be impressed by this shot. And he’d played such a responsible innings before that, therefore this is a shot hard to understand.”
But Australia will take it as wickets are at a premium in this match.
It could be as good as two wickets down as Shreyas Iyer has also got a back injury and has gone for a scan.
2.30pm – Lyon optimistic despite lifeless pitch
Nathan Lyon remains upbeat Australia can pull a rabbit out of the hat over the course of the final two days and finish the series locked up at 2-2.
The opening three Tests all finished inside of three days, but the final is looking certain to go down to the wire with Lyon believing a late result is still in play provided the bowlers can apply the pressure early.
“Over here what I’ve learned, the black soil seems to hold together a lot better than the red soil,” Nathan Lyon.
“There’s not an overly great deal of footmarks out there to hit for spinners.
“We may see it start to go up and down a little bit more. But even talking to ‘Starcy’, he’s putting in a lot of effort and the ball just seems to be stopping in the wicket.
“With the warmer weather here hopefully there’s still a result in this game. We’ve just got to bowl well in the morning and get the pressure in their change room.
“These are the type of Test matches that are won in the last half-an-hour of day five, and these are the type of Test matches you want to be a part of.
“The hard grind with a potential great reward at the end of it. They’re challenging, but we’re all up for a challenge, and it’s a proper grind, good Test cricket.”
Lyon was full of praise for his spin counterparts in Todd Murphy and Matt Kuhnemann who have continued to toil away in trying conditions.
“It’s a big moment for the two young spinners and I think they bowled exceptionally well,” Lyon said.
“I think it’s pretty even. We know games in this part of the world can speed up quickly.”