69th over: Australia 254-8 (Cummins 9, Lyon 4) (lead of 287) One to Lyon, three to Cummins, from Thakur’s over.
I reckon that rain from the west is going to spoil this party soon enough.
68th over: Australia 250-8 (Cummins 6, Lyon 3) Out comes the GOAT and the GOAT goes munch! Siraj bowls full and he is met with the full blade of Lyon’s bat striking a textbook straight drive that would ordinarily be worth four glorious runs, but the rain reduces the tariff to three. Cummins is less comfortable on strike is fortunate a thick edge bounces in front of third slip.
WICKET! Starc c Saini b Siraj 1 (Australia 247-8)
Mitchell Starc aims the same shot to every delivery of Siraj’s over; a handsome 3-iron swing of the bat aiming for the hospitality boxes behind the sightscreen. He misses with his first swipe, then mistimes his second straight to mid-off. Win some, lose some.
67th over: Australia 247-7 (Cummins 6, Starc 1) Thakur resumes his abbreviated over and Cummins is immediately in the runs, slashing a rank long hop for four over the cordon. The bowler exacts some revenge by clipping the back of the batsman’s helmet after a bouncer failed to get up, despite Cummins’ best efforts to avoid contact. That was a very slight glancing blow.
It remains very dark at the Gabba, despite the floodlights. The radar indicates more rain is approaching from the west, it remains to be seen if the ground is in the flightpath or whether it will again escape relatively unscathed.
Out come the players, ready for a session that may last two-and-a-half hours. It may last a fraction of that if it rains again. Either way, what action we see is sure to be entertaining with Australia desperate for quick runs.
And there we have it, play will restart in ten minutes. Thanks to the early Tea break and the addition of the extra time, the day’s play may only lose one over!
The situation is looking up. Remarkably, despite southern Queensland getting a serious drenching today, most of the rain has slid past just to the south of the Gabba. There’s the chance the tail end of the front could become a factor soon, but for now we might have a break long enough to resume play.
“Could you explain what Australia and India need in the context of WTC finals?” emails Arul Kanhere.
I shall hand you over to Ric Finlay, Australian cricket’s numbers guy.
Channel Seven are not convinced we’ll have play anytime soon. They’re showing replays of last summer’s series against Pakistan.
“Greetings from Slovakia,” is the kind of introduction that piques my interest. Welcome, Vincent Barreto. “It’s a country that doesn’t really play cricket. There’s a few Subcontinent expats who play cricket with a tennis ball in a park in Bratislava during the summer which bemuses and intrigues the locals who wonder what this strange game is! There is a weekly game in Austria where lots of teams turn up.
Was hoping for a bit of cricket to go with my early meeting for plant startup at JLR in Nitra but alas it is not to be. India will need to keep the Aussies below 300 but without someone like Sehwag to smash a quick few I think they will be eyeing a draw. It’s all they need. Here’s to the rain going away and an interesting 4th day! -12 here btw!”
India will be delighted with a draw. Undermanned, on the backfoot from the toss, and at Australia’s fortress, India will celebrate a draw like a win.
Seven have rolled out a package in honour of Nathan Lyon accompanied by this well chosen banger.
Clearly they missed a trick.
The covers are still on but the rain is not too heavy. The radar indicates showers nearby, but the massive blanket of rain appears to have skirted by.
‘Morning Jonathan,” buongiorno Finbar Anslow! “5.30am over here. Why up at this hour? Well the vagaries of Italian bureaucracy demand that I’m online at six to get a web ticket as part of the long and winding road towards citizenship; oh and there are also two Test matches on. Which brings me to the burning question; has there ever been/could there ever be, a situation where test cricket is being played 24/7? Home matches in New Zealand, South Africa and the Windies for example? 5 days in a row of non stop high level cricket. Wow!”
Excellent question Finbar. Can anybody out there help him out with the answer of the longest consecutive spell of play? Off the top of my head I would suggest NZ>Australia>SA on or around Boxing Day must have happened a few times, giving us 18ish continuous hours of Test cricket.
Back when Geoff and I were part of the esteemed White Line Wireless crew we workshopped a movie featuring Shane Watson as a superhero chasing the sun, playing cricket 24/7. We cast Owen Wilson in the lead role. It was very late at night. We may have been drunk.
Be like Abhi Saxena and send me emails. “Just a bit of perspective from a young Indian,” he opens. “One thing that seems to have surprised the Australian media is the grit shown by the Indians. The guys coming in this game for their first /second game are the same age as me, and what they are showing on the pitch, I think accurately reflects where India is as a country at this moment. What people don’t seem to realise in the West from my own experience of doing graduate school in the US is how young and ambitious India is. They have seen how life is in the West thanks to growing technology and friendly relations, and want the same for themselves.
Largely gone are the days when people in India just want to settle outside, they want to build their own now. India is growing as a country though the Indian media shows a very inaccurate reflection of the youth and doesn’t really capture it. But on the Test wicket it comes out, and that is why I love this game. Starting from the feisty Ashes to the colonial rebellion of West Indies, followed by the Asian colonies, Test cricket has served as a far better reflection of society than most other media. Cheers!
In the meantime, feel free to follow England’s pursuit of victory in Sri Lanka.
Tea – Australia 243-7 (lead of 276)
On come the covers, off go the players, and we’ll have an early Tea. The radar indicates it’s just a shower, but there are a few lurking nearby, and some of them look nasty. We’ll just have to wait and see. 37.5 overs remain in the day.
Rain stops play
66.1 over: Australia 243-7 (Cummins 2, Starc 1) Starc gets off the mark with a single but then the groundstaff race on as the light drizzle firms into persistent rain.
66th over: Australia 242-7 (Cummins 2, Starc 0) Natarajan gets another spell and his first delivery from around the wicket induces a regulation edge from Cummins, but it fails to carry to Pujara, who is standing a mile back at first slip. Another black mark on India’s fielding in what has been a wretched tour on that score. The impressive left-armer continues to toil and has the better of Cummins later in a maiden over when he flings one beyond a weak prod outside off stump.
Ten minutes before Tea, rain has started to fall. It’s only light for now, and play is continuing, but the groundstaff are ready to intervene.
WICKET! Paine c Pant b Thakur 27 (Australia 242-7)
Paine gallops like an AFL draftee attempting the beep test to turn a sharp single into a mightily impressive two. He’s then tested by some lovely full swinging deliveries from Thakur until the bowler gets his man! Eager to avoid a single to farm the strike Thakur drops in a slippery bouncer, Paine chases after it and feathers an edge behind from his attempted pull.
65th over: Australia 242-7 (Cummins 2, Starc 0)
64th over: Australia 240-6 (Paine 25, Cummins 2) The scoreboard has not been rattling on recently but Paine gets the scorer’s attention with a delicate glance for four, then a beautifully struck reverse sweep for four more. Those runs come despite Sundar getting plenty of encouragement out of this increasingly capricious surface.
The floodlights are now on at the Gabba. The thundery showers have skirted around the Gabba all afternoon but they are inching ever closer.
63rd over: Australia 231-6 (Paine 16, Cummins 2) Paine continues the pattern of accepting a single early in the over. Thakur then holds Cummins scoreless with a nice line outside off, with some away swing, and forces some hasty defence with a well directed yorker.
62nd over: Australia 230-6 (Paine 15, Cummins 2) Cummins arriving in the middle ahead of Starc and Lyon is a little mystifying. Washington Sundar replacing Navdeep Saini in the attack is not. Sundar approaches from around the wicket and is clipped for one by Paine then two by Cummins. He is then all over the Australian bowler, getting one to rip and probe the inside edge, then slant across with the arm beyond the outside edge. Nathan Lyon will have enjoyed the natural variation.
WICKET! Green c Rohit b Thakur 37 (Australia 227-6)
Shardul Thakur (which sometimes rolls through my head as a Sponnerism for Tupac Shakur) returns to the attack. Paine soon rotates the strike with a sharp single but then Green perishes! A nice delivery hits a length hard, lifts, clips the shoulder of the bat and is nicely caught in the cordon by the safe hands of Rohit. An excellent wicket for India, but the latest in a number of deliveries this afternoon that do not bode well for them batting long spells to win or draw when Australia’s attack gets to exploit this deteriorating surface.
Green’s innings could be cut anyway you want. Did he dig deep for a valuable 37? Or did he waste time scratching around when the situation demanded more urgency?
61st over: Australia 227-6 (Paine 14, Cummins 0)
60th over: Australia 226-5 (Green 37, Paine 13) A lovely on drive for three from Green is bettered by an even lovelier on drive for four from Paine. I’m afraid the valiant Saini is not at the races.
The lead is now 259. I reckon Australia have reached a big enough total should they be forced into an emergency declaration. That emergency may be sooner than hoped with groundstaff entering their golf carts.
59th over: Australia 217-5 (Green 34, Paine 7) Just the single from a Siraj over full of deliveries that hit the deck hard. Cameron Green is starting to find touch, but he’s had to grind it out to remain in the middle.
58th over: Australia 216-5 (Green 34, Paine 6) Navdeep Saini is considered fit enough for a spell, but he starts full on Green’s pads and concedes two, then he’s short and wide outside off stump and is cut effortlessly for four. A sharp single and then a neatly clipped three from Paine continues the momentum of this partnership.
Rowan Sweeney extends this conversation from earlier. “Hopefully the Australian media and public can embrace India’s ascension, if and when, it comes. India is cricket mad, and if young players are finally being given the opportunity and support they need to reach the very apex of their talent and realise their dreams, that’s something to be celebrated across the world. If that creates an arms race, where the older “powers” of cricket need to make similar levels of investment into young men and women, this too is only a good thing. I’d infinitely prefer that situation than the heartbreaking decline of West Indies Cricket.”
57th over: Australia 206-5 (Green 27, Paine 3) Australia respond after the drinks break with some tip-and-run cricket to keep the scoreboard moving. Green is now batting with much more intent, looking to drive forcefully through the offside and allowing his skipper to call him though for aggressive singles. It should be an industrious hour until the Tea interval.
Speaking of the rain, the day’s forecast has improved continually over the past 24 hours or so. Early indications prepared us for interruptions around lunchtime, but it now looks as though we’ll at least get to Tea unscathed. Like yesterday, anything after the final break is in the lap of the Gods with storms anticipated some time after 4pm local. There are big ugly splodges over southern Queensland on the BOM radar but mercifully they have not converged on top of the Gabba.
Moreover, the forecast for tomorrow isn’t as horrendous as appeared earlier in the week. Showers are possible during the hours of play, but by no means guaranteed. There could be a victor in this series after all.
Thank you very much Geoffrey for handballing to me my final OBO session of this captivating series. It has been a feast of cricket for four Tests. I just hope the rain holds off long enough to fit in a little more pud.
56th over: Australia 202-5 (Green 25, Paine 1) The captain gets off the mark with a clipped run. He tends to score fairly briskly. Interesting how things get played from here. Green gives some indication by sweeping another boundary to raise Australia’s 200.
The lead is 235, and my day is done. I shall return to you one more time in Border-Gavaskar mode, tomorrow morning to see what is to be seen of the fifth day. For the rest of the fourth, your guide through the catacombs shall be Jonathan Plumage Howcroft.