The signs were pretty ominous for India when the rampaging Aussies ended day 1 of the Sydney Test at 348/2. And quite predictably the Aussies, once they had the Indians on the mat, posted a mammoth first innings total of 572/ 7 declared. It is the fourth time in the series India allowed Australia to set a 500 plus total . And it was the fourth time Australian skipper Steve Smith scored a century in the series.
Thrust into the leading the side in absence of injured Michael Clarke, Smith has relished the captaincy role and been piling on the runs with the bat. His prolific run with the bat ensured that he was now a part of the elite company of late Sir Don Bradman and South African legend Jacques Kallis. There were the only other players to score four consecutive tons in the same series. Smith once again played a lovely innings of 117 with 15 fours off 208 balls. He is now the top contender for the Man of the Series award with a stunning 698 runs at an average of 139.6.
Aussie all-rounder Shane Watson struggling for form and desperate for big scores could add only 20 runs to his overnight score of 61 and was out for 81 missing out on a hundred on a flat track at Sydney. Taking full advantage of the poor Indian bowling, the Aussies piled on the agony for India. Shaun Marsh and Joe Burns scored 73 and 58 respectively. It was only Joe’s second Test match. Ryan Harris provided entertainment to the proceedings by his quick-fire 25 off 9 balls as Australia wanted quick runs before declaring.
Indian bowlers had a tough day again in the middle. Mohammed Shami took 5 wickets but not before conceding 112 runs off 28.3 overs. His bowling partners were sent on a leather hunt . Their figures tell the story. Bhuvneshwar Kumar 0/ 122 off 34 overs, Umesh Yadav 1/137 off 27 overs, Ravichandran Ashwin 1/ 142 off 47 overs.
After conceding a gigantic total understandably India were under pressure before the end of day 2 . And the early dismissal of in-form Murali Vijay without opening his account to a fiery delivery from Mitchell Starc put India on the back-foot . But India survived the tense final moments to score 71/1. Rohit Sharma unbeaten on 40 and K L Rahul , who had nightmarish first test and played some absolutely horrendous shots to get out as if he was forced to play Test cricket, batting on a quite 31.
As the action gets underway on Day 3, it remains to be seen whether the Indian batsmen are able to carry on after getting the start on this reportedly flat pitch in Sydney. Trailing by 501, Indian batsmen have their task cut out with Australia right on top. It has looked a batting track when the Aussies batted, Indians would be hoping that it would hold this way as the match progresses. That is the only way they can hope to save this Test match. Winning it from here looks a distant dream.