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India-Australia Test series hangs in balance

An epic four-Test series between Australia and India will be in the lap of the weather gods on its decisive final day at the Gabba, where the tourists will resume on four without loss after being set a target of 328.

Australia were bowled out for 294 on a topsy-turvy fourth day of the series-deciding fourth Test. India were slated to face 25 overs on Monday afternoon but wet weather meant stumps were pulled after 1.5 overs.

Further showers are predicted for Tuesday, when Tim Paine’s team require a victory to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy. “I believe a drawn series here for Australia … it’s actually as bad as a loss,” Ricky Ponting said on the Seven Network.

The highest successful chase in a Gabba Test came in 1951, when Australia finished 236-7.

However, the hosts have fresher memories of how India incredibly salvaged a draw after threatening to reel in a target of 407 last week at the SCG. “The wicket is certainly different to what it was in Sydney,” Steve Smith said after top-scoring with 55.

Smith, who fell victim to a nasty delivery from Mohammed Siraj that reared off the pitch and hit his thumb, backed Nathan Lyon to create some chances in his 100th Test after an underwhelming summer. “There’s a nice crack forming outside the right-hander’s off stump,” Smith said.

Mohammad Siraj took the prized scalp of Steve Smith for 55. PHOTO: ICC

Speculation bubbled throughout Monday as to when Paine might declare but India, as they have at every juncture since being skittled for 36 en route to a heavy defeat in Adelaide, fought back whenever Australia looked to be on top. Siraj finished with 5-73, the second best figures by any Indian fast bowler at the Gabba.

But Siraj, who debuted at the MCG but is now spearheading India’s unheralded attack, put down two crucial chances after lunch. The paceman was fielding on the rope when he reprieved Smith on 42 then grassed a return catch offered by Cameron Green on 14.

Lyon, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood added 47 runs for the final two wickets, growing Australia’s lead beyond 300. David Warner (48) and Marcus Harris (38) enjoyed a productive start to the day, adding 40 runs during the first seven overs.

First-change bowlers Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar, who combined in an unforgettable seventh-wicket stand of 123 runs, built dot-ball pressure to ignite yet another momentum shift.

Thakur ended the highest opening partnership that either side has managed during the series, an 89-run effort between Warner and Harris.

AP/RSS

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