Cricket: Highlights from the IND v AUS Test series.
AUSTRALIA’S hopes of winning the third Test have been blasted out of the park by a stunning effort from the home side on day four.
Cheteshwar Pujara scored a huge 202 from 525 balls — the longest innings ever completed by an Indian batsman — while wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha chimed in with a milestone of his own, scoring a measured 117 as India’s lead crept over the 150 mark.
It was a painful day in the field for the Australians, who took their first wicket of the day in the final session before India declared on 9-603 to give the visitors a 30-minute window to see them through. Ravi Jadeja did the early damage, taking the wickets of David Warner and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon to have the tourists in strife at 2-23 and trailing by 129 runs at stumps.
Here are all the major talking points from day four.
AUSTRALIA’S PUZZLING MAXWELL MOVE
As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, but Australian captain Steve Smith waited until the prospect of winning was next to nil before he opted for a shake-up in the bowling attack.
Up until tea, all-rounder Glenn Maxwell bowled only two overs in Australia’s huge 188-over slog against India.
Over 100 of those overs were dominated by frontline spinners Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon as the former edged closer to yet another record. With his 77-over marathon, O’Keefe bowled the most balls by an Australian in an innings since Shane Warne’s 420-ball effort against South Africa in 2004.
Maxwell came on after the tea break, but was only kept on for another two overs before Smith changed the attack back to the specialist spinners.
Former Australian captain Michael Clarke took aim at Smith’s tactics for the Test match, suggesting the skipper should have been much more aggressive in his field placements and bowling change-ups.
“Australia should have used Maxwell much more … He needs to be given a chance,” Clarke said, before jokingly suggesting wicketkeeper Matthew Wade have a bowl.
“Give him (Wade) a bowl, he’s been clocked at 135km/h,” he said, referencing the time Wade took the ball against Sri Lanka in Tasmania in 2013.
Coach Darren Lehmann said the call to use Maxwell was entirely up to Smith.
“That’s captain’s call obviously,” he said.
“We did speak about it, chopping and changing a little bit. The game was always on a knife’s edge so you always want your best spinners going.
“He probably could have bowled a few more overs but I thought the spinners toiled really hard as well, so that’s a call the captain makes out there and I’m really happy with that.”
Former Australian one-day all-rounder Tom Moody said Smith’s move to keep Maxwell out of the attack for so long was “baffling” and suggested the Aussie skipper should have rolled the arm over with his old leg-spinners to add some variety.
With nearly 100 overs of spin bowled it’s baffling that Maxwell has only bowled 2 overs & Smith 0. #IndvAus
— Tom Moody (@TomMoodyCricket) March 19, 2017
Maxwell mustn’t have been mocking Kohli, his shoulder must be crook – 4 overs. Seriously 4overs.
— Michael Gleeson (@mickgleeson) March 19, 2017
UMPIRE’S HILARIOUS TROLL
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) March 19, 2017
Umpire Chris Gaffaney sent hearts fluttering around the Ranchi ground as he appeared to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara, without Australia even appealing.
Gaffaney though was just playing tricks with the Australian side, perhaps looking to entertain himself in a first session that has seen little action.
The umpire looked to be giving Pujara out, but then proceeded to start scratching his head, showing that he was just taking the mickey. TV umpire Nigel Llong looked to be in hysterics as his colleague pulled off the marvellous piece of trickery on the two sides.
KOHLI SAVAGED BY FANS’ BANNER
Indian captain Virat Kohli is having a horror run with the bat this series, failing to register 50 runs across three Tests and averaging less than Mitchell Marsh — a batsman who was dropped after the second match.
His antics both on and off the field have set the series alight, firing up Indian fans and infuriating Australians, so it was only a matter of time a number of cheeky crowd members gave it back to the 28-year-old.
Unknown fans hung a banner reading “Delhi belly has given us more runs than Kohli has scored this whole series” above the concourse, referencing the famous affliction a number of touring players have to deal with after experiencing Indian food.
Australia’s casualty to “Delhi belly” this series was Matt Renshaw. The 20-year-old was forced from the field with an upset stomach in the first Test, simply saying: “When you need to go, you need to go.”
LYON THWARTED BY HIS OWN SPIN
Most of the time as a spinner, more turn off the pitch a good thing. That wasn’t the case for Nathan Lyon in the first session on day four.
The Aussie tweaker caught Cheteshwar Pujara plumb in front shortly after he raised the bat for 150. Umpire Ian Gould wasted no time in putting his finger up to send Pujara on his way, but the Indian batsman had other ideas.
Pujara reviewed the decision despite being caught in front of the middle peg, but ball tracking technology revealed the ball had spun way too far and would have missed leg stump by a mile.
Indian captain Virat Kohli stood nervously in the stands as the call was reviewed before screaming in elation when it was overturned.
VAUGHAN’S CHEEKY DIG AT AUSTRALIA
As with most gleeful Englishmen looking forward to the Ashes series later in the year, Michael Vaughan took the opportunity to gloat at Australia’s turmoil on day four.
The former England captain said you can “always rely on Aussie cricket to brighten up” a poor weekend.
England might enjoy the sight of a struggling Aussie side now, but Australia’s prowess on home soil could silence the confident Poms come next summer.
My weekend has been poor ..Wednesday,England Rugby losing ..Too many G & Ts ..But you can always rely on Aussie cricket to brighten it up !!
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) March 19, 2017