The weather in Sydney played hide and seek with cricket on the fourth day of the last Test match in the Border-Gavaskar Series between India and Australia. The Umpires finally gave the go-ahead at 13:50. Lunch had been taken early but more than three hours of play was lost due to the weather. I have no doubts that “Sydney Weather” too would have been the most searched keyword on the web during that time as it was in Melbourne a week earlier. The Indian team knew that they were in with a chance to win this match decisively and make Australia follow on at home for the first time in 31 years.
When play did start, the Indian bowlers got the last four Australian wickets to wrap up their first inning in just under an hour and a half. Pat Cummins, the first batsman to be out in the afternoon, was among one of the victims of the unpredictable bounce on this pitch. A short of length ball bowled by Mohammed Shami on the off stump kept low and there was little that Cummins could do to keep it out of his stumps. A few overs later Bumrah beat Peter Handscomb for speed as the batsman dragged the ball on to his stumps while attempting to cut it.
Kuldeep Yadav, who had three wickets to his name till then, then trapped Lyon in front of the stumps when Lyon attempted to sweep the ball. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood then tormented the Indian bowlers for 13 long overs adding another 42 runs to the Australian total and taking it to 300. Kuldeep Yadav got another leg before the decision and his first 5 wickets haul overseas when he rapped Hazlewood in front. At 300 runs all out, Australia trailed India 322 runs. Unlike in Melbourne, Kohli had no hesitation in asking Australia to follow on this time. The looming inclement weather afforded him no other option.
The Indian bowlers could only bowl four overs in the Australian second inning before the Umpires had to stop play because of bad light. Bumrah bowled the last over and Marcus Harris ducked straight into one of his short ball taking a rap on his helmet. That is what probably prompted the Umpires to dig out their light meters and take a look. No play was possible thereafter and more than 64 overs of possible play were lost in the day due to the weather. There was of course much discussion of why play couldn’t go on when the stadium was brightly lit by the floodlights and why the light was still adjudged poor.
The Indian team will be a little disappointed that the weather has played spoilsport. On the other hand, The Australian team too will feel that they could have possibly have seen a day and a half out to salvage a draw in this Test. If the match is drawn the Indians will retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy by virtue of their 2-1 lead in the series which they would even if they had lost it because they are currently holding it. With the weather expected to play truant again tomorrow, it is unlikely that the Indian bowlers will be able to take ten Australian wickets despite their brilliance and the vagaries of the pitch. Nevertheless, this has been the most successful overseas tour for India over the past year.