Series in balance with India needing 328 to beat Australia in decisive final Test


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 4-0 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, having earlier resulted in a brief delay at tea, meant stumps were pulled after 1.5 overs.

Two dropped catches and a wagging tail helped the hosts push their lead beyond 300 on Monday. 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. Tim Paine’s team require a victory to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy but further showers are predicted for the final day of the series.

“I believe a drawn series here for Australia … it’s actually as bad as a loss,” Ricky Ponting said on the Seven Network.

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.

Mohammed Siraj finished with 5-73, the second best figures by any Indian fast bowler at the Gabba, after grabbing two wickets in a chaotic Australian collapse of 34-4 on Monday morning.

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 Steve Smith on 42 then grassed a return catch offered by Cameron Green on 14.

Siraj produced a nasty delivery that reared off the pitch to remove Smith for 55, while Shardul Thakur’s dismissals of Green (37) and Paine (27) were also crucial.

Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood added 47 runs for the final two wickets. David Warner (48) and Marcus Harris (38) enjoyed a productive start to the day, adding 40 runs during the first seven overs after Australia resumed at 21-0.

First-change bowlers 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. The paceman is the first tourist since Dale Steyn in 2008 to snare seven-plus wickets and score a half-century during a Test in Australia.