The Indian lower order showed a fraction more fight, but an aggressive Australian second innings on day 4 set up a chance of victory ahead of the final day of the fourth Test at the SCG. India were all out for 475 – a first innings deficit of 97 – before Australia raced to 6/251 in just 40 overs to build a 348-run lead.
Virat Kohli departed early for 147, but Wriddhiman Saha (35), Ravi Ashwin (50) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (30) lifted the tourists to an impressive eventual total.
Australia, after taking more than half of the day to take the five wickets required to end India’s innings, were quick out of the blocks. But the early wickets of David Warner (4) and Shane Watson (16) had the hosts precariously placed at 2/46.
Up stepped Steve Smith, again. He and Chris Rogers (56) put on 80 for the third wicket, while Smith posted a thrilling 71 off 70 balls – including eight boundaries and a six.
Joe Burns then justified his call-up with his second half-century of the match, blasting 66 off just 39 balls. Brad Haddin chipped in superbly with a run-a-ball 30 that included two sixes.
Burns was out in the last over of the day, but Australia’s blistering effort set up an opportunity for an early declaration on day 5.
Stud of the day
Australia’s newest Test star had India saying “Boo-urns” with a one-day like innings. Joe Burns brought up his 50 in just 33 balls, while his sizzling knock included eight fours and three sixes.
Steve Smith faces a tricky decision, particularly in light of the criticism he faced after the third Test. Will he make an aggressive, slightly risky declaration at the start of the day and leave India with a chance to claim a miraculous victory, or let his lower order push them out to an insurmountable lead, potentially not leaving his bowlers with enough time to take 10 wickets.
Steve Smith’s 769 runs is an all-time Test record for a series of four or fewer matches, while the teams’ eight 400-plus totals is another record for a Test series.