Australia on the verge of losing Test series after second innings collapse

By @saihoops on
Matthew Wade
Cricket - India v Australia - Fourth Test cricket match - Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamsala, India - 27/03/17 - Australia's Matthew Wade reacts after his teammate Josh Hazlewood's dismissal. Reuters / Adnan Abidi

Australia, under the captainship of Steven Smith, has fought tooth-and-nail with India over the course of the gruelling four-Test series. Despite their valiant effort, the Australians are on the verge of a series defeat as India ended the third day's play at 19/0, needing another 87 runs to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy with a 2-1 series win.

After the Indians were bowled out for 332 in their first innings, the visiting team folded for 137 in 53.5 overs, within two sessions of play. The hosts then rubbed off 19 runs from the 106-run target in the final six overs before stumps. With two full days of play remaining, and no forecast of rain, the Indians are due a comfortable victory. 

As described by ESPNCricinfo, Australia skipper Steven Smith's dismissal in the afternoon session triggered a collapse that the visiting team couldn't recover from. "Smith seemed intent on domination, sending his first ball to the boundary behind square leg then lining up Bhuvneshwar's short and full deliveries. But his attempt to carry on brought a miscalculation and an ugly drag onto the stumps -- Smith finished the series with a laudable 499 runs but the sense of an unfinished last innings."

Glenn Maxwell (45) and Matthew Wade (25) tried to keep Australia afloat but the Indian spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin struck at regular intervals, making it mighty tough for the visitors to build a respectable lead. 

Graeme Hick, Australia's batting coach, acknowledged that his players dug a hole for themselves on a decent pitch. “Both sides have been guilty of it through the series. You know when you come here, the danger of losing wickets in clumps. The hardest part is getting yourself in and getting that first half hour out of the way. I wouldn’t be critical of the guys who got out cheaply when they haven’t got ‘in’.

“If we look back over this game and one or two others over the series, we’ve missed our opportunities and left some runs out there in the first innings. So from 131-1 on the first day (in this Test) to only put 300 on the board, if we put another 100 to 150 runs from that first innings then we’re in the game tomorrow. While today was very disappointing, it’s not the only reason we find ourselves in this position," the former England batsman said after the third day's play in the fourth and final Test match, via cricket.com.au.

Prior to Australia's tour of India, the home team was tipped as the overwhelming favourite to win the series, especially after the 4-0 clean sweep in 2013. However, the Australians, led by their spin duo of Steve O'Keefe and Nathan Lyon, surprised the Indians with guile and persistence, which nearly helped them to a 2-0 series lead at the end of the second Test in Bangalore.