41st over: India 95-1 (Gill 72, Pujara 11) More runs for Pujara, who takes his score into double figures and his strike rate per 100 balls above 10. He does that by nudging Cummins off his hip, through the fielder at leg gully who sprawls but can’t stop the ball. The Cowan Ton arrives later in the over: 101 balls faced by Pujara by the over’s end.
40th over: India 93-1 (Gill 72, Pujara 9) That is dismissive from Gill! The first real thump of the ball that he’s played, as he leans back to a length ball from Starc and smears it through midwicket for four. The next is shorter and he hooks it despite having two men waiting for that shot. Deep square leg and deep backward square are both two thirds of the way to the rope, so that ball loops over Harris at deep backward. Gill gets two more, in streaky fashion. So the tactic is that he’ll bat for the win and Pujara will bat for the draw, a bet each way. Gill pulls again, along the ground to fine leg for a single, and Pujara remarkably scores his ninth run, pushing one to point. India need 235 to win.
39th over: India 85-1 (Gill 65, Pujara 8) We commence after lunch via the person of Pat Cummins, who starts as he means to go on: short. Gill pulls away another single and Cummins contributes a no-ball via the front line. Pujara blocks his way up to 94 deliveries, closing on yet another Cowan Ton.
Arul Kanhere was bullish earlier this morning. “India need to go for it. Shutting up shop will end in heavy defeat. And a chase maybe….just maybe cap off a miracle after being the underdogs for so long. What a story it will be. Give us a documentary already.”
Leo Bajzert down in Sydney has a smile on. “Freelancing at the mo and got an email saying there’s nothing for me today. Thrilled. What’s money compared to an enthralling Test series that comes down to the final day? Bring. It. On.”
As a fellow freelancer I fully endorse this attitude. Take time whenever you want. The OBO though is the sweet spot: doing freelance work where the job is watching the Test match.
Andrew James is feeling cheerful too. “No matter the result, I think we can all agree that this series has been of such a high quality – even with a bunch of injuries and that 36 innings, India have demonstrated their steely determination and risen to every challenge. Watching Australia’s bowling attack has been wonderful, particularly in conjunction with the OBO – your commentary to Hazelwood’s dismantling of Pujara on day 3 was *kisses chefs fingers*.”
Thank you very much – doing the OBO every day of a long series has been an unusual situation, and a lot of fun.
A nice message from Blake from Mullumbimby. “I’m meant to be working here in the Coolangatta office, but you know, last day of the Test series and all. I’m really enjoying the Guardian coverage online. You might enjoy this piece from my local rag covering our Boxing Day (late arvo) neighbourhood game. The two kids who were up at 6am and dressed in their whites, waiting all day for the toss, yep, they are mine. Cheers and go the Aussies and blue skies today.”
Very good. Here it is.
Lunch – India 83 for 1, needing 245 to win
Very much India’s session. There are 62 overs left in the day now, meaning that their chances of hanging on should a couple of wickets fall are much better than they were at the start of the day. Rohit Sharma was the only dismissal. Gill has rolled along at a great clip. The only downside for India is Pujara’s scoring speed. He has been very unfairly criticised for the same thing in Sydney, when his efforts were pivotal to India saving that match. But here, with a smaller target to chase, he doesn’t need to be smashing boundaries but he could have been a bit more ambitious. He’s faced 90 balls for 8, which could have been 90 balls for 38 without any more risks. And that would have brought the target that much closer.
But still: 245 in 62 overs is 3.95 per over. If Rishabh has a good hour, that rate could be caught up comfortably. But I’d like to see Pujara get into the rhythm of scoring rather than just batting after the break.
38th over: India 83-1 (Gill 64, Pujara 8) Block it out until lunchtime? Nah, thanks. Gill gets width from Starc in the final over of the session and swishes for six! An uppercut, top edgy, and Warner is down at third man but that goes square of him and into the crowd. A guy just in front of me in a bright yellow shirt takes a very good catch. Warner kicks the ball back to the umpire to be disinfected. “He does look a bit grubby,” says someone nearby. There’s a big appeal from the last ball of the session as Pujara has a ball brush his shirt on the way down the leg side, but Paine doesn’t review. Lunch, with the chase short by 245.
37th over: India 76-1 (Gill 57, Pujara 8) More short balls from Cummins, again Gill lays into the pull shot and this time he mistimes it in the air down towards deep backward square, but it bounces in front. Don’t want to get caught on the boundary in this match situation a few minutes from lunch. Pujara comes onto strike with the single, and there’s a bonus for India when Cummins goes too short with his bouncer, launching it over Paine for four byes. Then he hits Pujara on the body again. When Che gets his shirt off tonight he’s going to be an abstract painting.
36th over: India 71-1 (Gill 56, Pujara 8) Starc comes on to continue the short-pitched attack. Gill takes it on, hooking to deep square, he’s a tall player who likes that shot. Pujara attempts a cut shot and gets beaten.
35th over: India 70-1 (Gill 55, Pujara 8) It’s Route One for Cummins now against Pujara. Short, short, short. Fourth ball he hits the batsman again, a blow on his front shoulder and the ball then ricochets through off his arm to the keeper. The Australians appeal, hoping it caught some glove, but they don’t protest the umpire’s refusal. Pujara battles through another maiden, making that 79 balls faced.
34th over: India 70-1 (Gill 55, Pujara 8) Quarter of an hour until lunch, and still no rashness from Gill against Lyon as he blocks and kicks out another maiden. If India can start the second session only one wicket down, they’ll have options in their hands.
33rd over: India 70-1 (Gill 55, Pujara 8) Runs for Che! Pushes Cummins towards mid-on and darts back for a second as well. His strokeplay is conservative but his running has been a bit hair-raising. His hair is then raised by a short ball that hits the back of his helmet, glancing off as he tried to evade it. The second one that has hit him. He’s ok to carry on, it wasn’t a full on hit.
32nd over: India 68-1 (Gill 55, Pujara 6) A nasty blow for Wade, who is hit on the collarbone fielding at short leg when Gill whips Lyon into the ground. It bounces first then comes up and hits the fielder. He recovers after some grimacing and will play on. Tough player, as we saw when he let himself be hit by a lot of short bowling from Neil Wagner last summer. A ball hits Gill and runs to fine leg but there was no shot played so the umpire says dead ball. Gill does get a couple of runs eventually past Wade to midwicket, raising the 50 partnership.
Jake Kimber-Thomson writes in – welcome. “Long time reader, first time writer. Regarding the methode d’extraction for el Che, it seems that the only way is to bowl an absolute jaffa. A compilation of Pujara dismissals could just as easily be titled Best Deliveries 2010 – Now.”
31st over: India 66-1 (Gill 53, Pujara 6) Cummins is back for Hazlewood, the quicks rotating in short spells today. Cummins uses all of his energy to bash a short ball into Pujara’s shoulder, the batsman trying to duck but the ball doesn’t get up. Unfazed, Pujara is straight onto the front foot to defend the following ball. Half an hour until lunch. Cummins gets a ball cutting back in but as he did earlier, Pujara leaves on length and it sails over off stump. Two slips, gully, leg slip, short leg, all waiting. Only the one wicket for Australia in two hours of play this morning. The anxiety will be starting to claw at their insides, little scratches now that will get worse if the day wears on like this. Another maiden to Pujaara, who has faced 67 balls for his runs.
30th over: India 66-1 (Gill 53, Pujara 6) Lyon comes around the wicket and Gill doesn’t want to take any risks. Tricky with that angle and men catching around the bat. He defuses the over and doesn’t try to score.
Fifty! Gill 50 from 90 balls
29th over: India 66-1 (Gill 53, Pujara 6) First ball of the over and Gill raises his minor milestone for the second time in Tests, playing that back-foot force to cover again for two runs this time. He adds three more from Hazlewood through midwicket, and has gone from his lowest career score (31) past his highest (50) in the last half hour or so. Only his third Test, he’s been super consistent.
The partnership is 48 and Pujara has 6 of those.
28th over: India 61-1 (Gill 48, Pujara 6) Lovely stuff from Gill, down the track and driving Lyon through cover for four. That’s both bold and beautiful. He follows with a single, and brings the deficit down to 267.
27th over: India 56-1 (Gill 43, Pujara 6) Gill makes Pujara run, taking off for a single towards mid on. Flashbacks to Adelaide 2018 as Cummins picks up cleanly, lines up the stumps, and nails a direct hit. This time it was at the striker’s end. But Pujara has dived home.
“How much can you compare Cummins to McGrath this series?” Luke has just emailed to ask. Well, McGrath never fielded like that. Couldn’t bat like Cummins either. I thin they’re very different styles of bowlers through. Cummins operates at pace, has hostility, and relies on a fuller length with slight bits of lateral movement. McGrath was always back of a length, banging on the seam, jagging one way and the other.
26th over: India 55-1 (Gill 42, Pujara 6) A quiet one from Lyon, with Gill punching a single back past him off the back foot. Pujara uses his feet but finds mid on, along the ground.
25th over: India 54-1 (Gill 41, Pujara 6) Hazlewood comes on at the Stanley Street end for Starc, who bowled five overs on the bounce this morning. Fit to play, then. Hazlewood starts off perfectly, right in the channel again and again, just outside the off stump. He’s so good. Equally good is Pujara’s judgement of what to leave. An in-ducker off the seam could see his stumps clunked, but his choices are vindicated through this over. Another maiden.
24th over: India 54-1 (Gill 41, Pujara 6) Lyon to Gill, who isn’t trying to force the pace. Happy to play out a maiden here.
“Dear Geoff, if you want some rain you are welcome to ours as I peer into a dark, miserable, wet English night,” writes John Norris. “Is the World Test Championships a coveted thing in Australia? I barely hear it get a mention over here. And is it a worthy accolade bearing in mind how disjointed the calendar has been during the last year?”
Similarly to the earlier question, I’d say you would be hearing a lot more about it if England were going to qualify. It’s like the early T20 World Cups or the Champions Trophy: the team that won cared about winning, then the other teams all pretended they didn’t care. The relevance given the mangled calendar is a fair question. I suppose the idea has to start somewhere, to get its wheels to the road. And the first one will then make the second edition matter more, and the third.
23rd over: India 54-1 (Gill 41, Pujara 6) What a shot from Gill! That’s not even a cover drive, it’s a forcing stroke to a good length ball, no follow through with a slightly angled bat, but immaculately timed, which combines with Starc’s pace to send it swiftly to the cover boundary. Then a single tucked to the leg side. Takes India past the first team milestone, and the deficit to 274. Two slips and a gully for Pujara, with a leg gully and short leg now the other catching positions. Pujara reaches 44 balls faced for his half dozen runs.
22nd over: India 49-1 (Gill 36, Pujara 6) Another run to Pujara! Pushes Lyon to midwicket and sets off. Gill drives a run wide of mid-off. Slip, leg slip, short leg, short midwicket, square leg, backward square, and mid-on for Pujara. A 7-2 leg side field. Just mid off and point on the other side. India 279 from victory.
21st over: India 47-1 (Gill 35, Pujara 5) A prince has kissed Cheteshwar Pujara and woken him from his hundred-year slumber. Pujara hops onto the front foot against Starc and drives him classily through the covers. It should be for four, but in true understated Pujara style it pulls up just short of the rope, and a tag-team effort from Lyon and Wade saves a run.
19th over: India 40-1 (Gill 31, Pujara 2) A single from Starc for Gill from the first ball of the over, pushed into the covers, then Pujara waits out five more deliveries, defending either side of ducking the short ball.
20th over: India 44-1 (Gill 35, Pujara 2) Another boundary for Gill as he goes back and glances Lyon fine, before playing out the rest of the over. That takes Gill past his lowest score for the series. Consistent. Drinks. India need 284 more to win.
18th over: India 39-1 (Gill 31, Pujara 2) As is now custom, the ground announcer goes bananas for Nathan ‘Nathan’ Lyon and the small crowd delivers a corresponding welcome. Decent shape out of the hand to start with. Lyon bowls one short ball that draws Gill into a pull shot but that goes straight on, maybe the square spinner, and Gill is lucky not to miscue it while pulling. That brings Pujara on strike for a huge lbw appeal, reviewed by Australia.
Lyon is down on one knee. Paine reviews quickly. Pujara has advanced, missed the ball, been hit around off stump but he’s a long way down. DRS says umpire’s call on height. The projection suggests that the ball is smashing leg stump, but according to the ICC rules on DRS, the bails and the top of the stump from where the groove starts don’t count as part of the impact area for ball-tracking. Which is nonsense, but that’s the rule. Stumps ain’t stumps.
Just over half the ball is above the black line drawn below the stump groove, so the call stays not out. On the other side of the grievance list, Pujara is ruled to not be playing a shot to that, with the impact slightly outside the line of the stumps, even though he probably was playing a shot.
17th over: India 38-1 (Gill 29, Pujara 2) Gill looks to back-cut Starc behind point but is denied runs by Green in the gully. Good stop. The batsman settles for a single off his pads. Pujara extends his ratio to one scoring shot in 28 balls.
16th over: India 37-1 (Gill 28, Pujara 2) Quite the shot from Shubman Gill, striding forward to an overpitched ball and lacing it through the covers for four! Labuschagne puts in a Tour de France of a chase but can’t overhaul it before the cobbles. Green fixes his length but Gill is feeling good now, and drives off the back foot regardless to pick up three through cover point.
“How do you get Pujara out?” asks Ruth Purdue. “For me he personifies grinding down bowlers. An old school player who you’d love to have in your team but hate to play against.”
That is the question. Australia have managed to get him this summer via Pat Cummins bowling some absolutely perfect deliveries, angling in and seaming away and taking edges. But that’s hard to do on demand, otherwise every bowler would. His other susceptibility is being caught at leg slip or leg gully, playing off his pads. And at times he has looked vulnerable to Lyon’s off spin with the ball turning in and catchers around the bat. But it’s like the sea breaking down a rock: you just have to continue with the dark patience of the ages.
15th over: India 30-1 (Gill 21, Pujara 2) Here is Starc at last. Alright, watch this space. He was worried about a hamstring yesterday. But he looks alright today! Up past 140 kph immediately. Gill drives his second ball, beautifully, but Wade at cover pulls off a brilliant diving stop and puts the single under pressure by throwing to the striker’s end. Pujara dives and makes his ground, then gets off the mark! A big inside edge squirting away through square leg for two. El Che is away. Starc gets through the over without dropping pace. Encouraging for Australia.
14th over: India 27-1 (Gill 20, Pujara 0) You count a Pujara innings not in runs scored but in balls faced. That’s what he goes out there to do. He’s up past 20, ending Green’s over on 21. Conventional field for him: three slips, gully, point, cover, mid off, mid on, midwicket fairly square, fine leg.
13th over: India 27-1 (Gill 20, Pujara 0) Cummins to Gill, defending. Presumably if Starc doesn’t bowl then Cummins will bowl a couple more overs, before Hazlewood replaces him, then Lyon will replace Green. This over is a maiden.
“That was an interesting analysis of the options about the World Test Championship,” writes Murray Henman. “I’m wondering what importance are the cricketing nations and teams putting on this? What would they prioritise?”
I think it’s a play-by-ear situation, but now that it’s within reach I suspect that teams that could make it will really want to make it. And those that can’t will brush it off and say it doesn’t matter. But any team would like to be the first winner of the thing, rather than being out of contention. Also given it will be played in England, the Australians would probably see it as a burnishing of their draw in the 2019 Ashes.
12th over: India 27-1 (Gill 20, Pujara 0) More runs for Gill as Green starts too straight and he whips through midwicket. Three. Pujara drives to the left of Labuschagne at cover and again considers a single before declining. Green bowling before Starc, which is interesting, but Starc is on the field, in Green’s position at gully. Pujara faces five more dots.
11th over: India 24-1 (Gill 17, Pujara 0) The opposite approach as Pujara blocks out Cummins. He does think about a single after defending to cover but bails out. Ducks a bouncer. Ten balls faced for him.
10th over: India 24-1 (Gill 17, Pujara 0) As expected, Shubman Gill hasn’t packed the toys away. Flicks Hazlewood for two runs through square, then gets an overcorrection in width and flays a cut shot over the cordon for four. Top edgy but perfectly safe in the end. That will get the blood pumping.
9th over: India 18-1 (Gill 11, Pujara 0) Cheteshwar Pujara to the middle to start building his defensive bulwark brick by brick. Gill will almost certainly keep playing shots and see where that takes him. Pujara leaves a few, including one very close to the line of the off stump, but he was confident that the length would carry it over. He was right.
WICKET! Rohit c Paine c Cummins 7, India 18-1
There it is! Just consistency from Cummins, that line that he pursued around the off stump time and again. That ball doesn’t do anything wild off the pitch but it does seam away slightly, at the tricky length that makes you play and the line that you can’t leave. Rohit defends, hands going at the ball too hard, and the movement takes the edge low to Paine’s right, where he dives across first slip to take it well.
8th over: India 18-0 (Rohit 7, Gill 11) Rohit squirts away a single from Hazlewood via an inside edge, leaving Gill to face five balls. No trouble. The last of them Gill greets with such a textbook defensive stride that he holds the pose for a good 10 seconds to soak in the feeling. Mwah.
7th over: India 17-0 (Rohit 6, Gill 11) Every over with the new ball that goes by without a wicket is a minor victory for India. Cummins makes Gill play at every ball of his over. Five of them get defended, one beats the edge going a long way off the surface. There’s that wildcard factor. There will be deliveries through the day that misbehave. So it probably is in India’s interest to unsettle the Australians by continuing to score at a good clip in between times.
6th over: India 17-0 (Rohit 6, Gill 11) Hazlewood is the candidate for an early incision, but Gill is playing him really well. Defends with solidity at the ball pitched up, then middles a pull shot as soon as Hazlewood drops short. Three runs as it pulls up on the slow outfield.
5th over: India 14-0 (Rohit 6, Gill 8) Cummins is clipped for two from the first ball of his over, but he starts settling into his work against Gill. Consistently up past 140 kph now, zeroing in on the stumps. Eventually to a bit more width Gill plays a back-foot punch to cover for one, a nice shot but it’s a risky one with the chance of the ball moving off the seam. India need 314 more to win.
4th over: India 11-0 (Rohit 6, Gill 5) Rohit guides Hazlewood away for a single, then it’s Gill’s turn to get going. An open-faced slice behind point for two, then a stylish flick off the pads for three. His scores this series: 45, 35 not out, 50, 31. He has impressed without making something substantial.
3rd over: India 5-0 (Rohit 5, Gill 0) And we’re away. Hazlewood bowls the one remaining ball of the second over that was interrupted last night for rain, then Cummins sends down an exploratory maiden (sounds like a fantasy novel) to Rohit, who defends until adding a run from the final ball.
If you want a bit more detail, and a cute baby, and some direct experience of the wild weather that descended on Brisbane yesterday, we’ve got all of that on the Final Word wrap.
The AAP report on the fourth day’s play will bring you up to speed with the basics.
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Hello all, for the last time from the Border-Gavaskar trophy series of 2020-21. Three Test matches and four fifths of the fourth, and it all comes down to today. India need 324 runs to win the Test and win the series 2-1. Australia need to bowl them out to win the Test and win the series 2-1. A draw would see the series drawn and the trophy retained by India.
Perhaps more significantly, a draw would see Australia remain in a qualifying position for the World Test Championship final, where a loss would see them drop out. A draw would (I think) see India temporarily drop from second to third and out of contention, but with the chance to make up that gap again in their upcoming Tests against England. If Australia does tour South Africa as speculated, those Tests could also help Australia regain their place should they lose it today, but on the other hand losses in South Africa would also damage Australia’s win ratio and could see them miss out even if they win today. Qualification is done by a percentage of wins or draws from matches played, not overall points, and New Zealand have finished all of their Tests for the period with a high qualification average. Should either Australia or India slip, the Kiwis are in.
So here we are. Bowling wise, Mitchell Starc might have a hamstring twinge and could be hampered. Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood have done a power of work. Nathan Lyon has bowled well but not taken many wickets in this series. Cameron Green is yet to take one in his career. Those bowlers will have to dig deep one more time to make use of an increasingly spicy Gabba pitch.
As for India, their openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill are both stroke-players, and one suspects that they will go about things as normal, looking to score at a decent clip. If they put on enough runs then the rest of the lineup may go after this target. If they fall cheaply then we’ll likely see Pujara and company try to bat long as they did in Sydney.
And the weather? The forecast is good and the skies are cloudy in patches but overall dry. Fingers crossed. Shall we, once more with feeling?