SYDNEY: Fickle weather on day four prevented India from closing in on a big win in the fourth Test but they were well on course for their maiden series victory in Australia after forcing the hosts to follow-on at home for the first time since 1988.
Bad light and intermittent rain led to substantial loss of play with only 25.2 overs bowled on day four.
Australia were placed at 6-0 in 4 overs after Kuldeep Yadav’s five-wicket haul in his maiden Test Down Under helped India bowl the home team out for 300 in the first innings.
Umpires took players off the field with eight minutes remaining in the belated afternoon session. Marcus Harris (2) and Usman Khawaja (4) were the unbeaten batsmen with Australia still trailing by 316 runs.
But play didn’t resume at all once the scheduled tea break was over, as bad light hampered proceedings once again. The umpires waited for nearly an hour, coming out for inspection in between, before making a decision at 5 pm local time.
The match officials were ready to wait until 6 pm for light to improve, but a slight drizzle put paid to the wait and the day was called off at 5.20 pm local time.
This was after Australia were bowled out for 300 runs (104.5 overs) in their first innings and were asked to follow on, surrendering a lead of 322 runs. Kuldeep Yadav took 5-99, making instant impact in his first game of the series.
After the morning session was washed out, play resumed at 1.50 pm local time with 230 minutes lost to bad light and rain since day three.
India took the second new ball immediately and made quick inroads. Mohammed Shami (2-58) bowled Pat Cummins (25) with a ball that kept low on the sixth ball after resumption of play.
At the other end, Jasprit Bumrah (1-62) set up Peter Handscomb (37) who played on after a resilient innings facing 111 balls.
Yadav then trapped Nathan Lyon (0) lbw as Australia lost three wickets for 22 runs in the space of 44 balls.
And he could have immediately completed his five-wicket haul, but Hanuma Vihari put down a skier from Josh Hazlewood (21) at mid on. In the process, Vihari hurt his left shoulder whilst fielding and didn’t take the field later on in the session, with Hardik Pandya coming on as a substitute fielder.
Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc (29 not out) then added 42 runs for the 10th wicket as Australia reached 300 despite another pitiful batting display.
Yadav got his reward thereafter with Hazlewood trapped lbw on a close umpire’s call, and the decision stayed in the wrist-spinner’s favour despite DRS.
Australia were then forced to follow on for the first time in Test cricket since 2005 when England had enforced the same in Nottingham. On their home soil, this was the first instance of Australia following on since 1988, again in Sydney, versus England.
Earlier, incessant rain and bad light prevented the start of play. It couldn’t commence at the scheduled early 10 am local time start due to bad light and wet conditions from overnight heavy rain.