x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Fourth Test: Australia fall prey to India's spin post lunch

Ravichandran Ashwin claimed four wickets as the hosts stamped their mark on the opening day in New Delhi.

NEW DELHI // Ravichandran Ashwin claimed four wickets as India stamped their mark on the opening day of the fourth Test against Australia.

The spotlight before the match had been on Shane Watson, who was back in the lineup having been one of four players suspended for the third Test for disciplinary reasons, and he also was named captain when Michael Clarke was ruled out with a back problem.

But the 31 year old failed to inspire his side, who suffered a mid-session slump before Steve Smith and Peter Siddle provided some resistance to help the tourists reach 231 for eight at stumps.

Ashwin led India's afternoon charge with Ishant Sharma (two) and Ravindra Jadeja (two) among the wickets as the home side look to complete a series whitewash.

Watson won his the toss and opted to bat on a pitch that will be difficult to play on the fifth day.

Warner departed in the second over for a duck, a lack of foot movement to Sharma's fourth ball resulting in a thick edge to second slip, where Virat Kohli snaffled a neat catch.

Phil Hughes, batting at No 3, quickly found his rhythm, hitting Bhuvneshwar Kumar for three fours and two more when the paceman was replaced by off-spinner Ashwin.

His progress was ended on 45, though, when he was caught in two minds by a short-of-a-length ball on Sharma's return, and chopped an inside edge on to his stumps.

That brought the captain to the crease, Watson easing any nerves over his new role by dispatching the fourth ball he faced to the boundary with a leg-side half-volley. Watson and opener Ed Cowan saw Australia through to 94 for two at lunch, but things quickly went downhill for the tourists in the afternoon session.

Cowan was on 38 when Ashwin claimed his first wicket, bowling the opener round his legs, but it was Watson's wicket for 17 that gave much joy to India.

Jadeja's delivery drew Watson away from his stumps and Mahendra Singh Dhoni was quick to whip the bails off to leave their opponents on 115 for four.

Matthew Wade quickly followed for two, pushing Ashwin to Murali Vijay at silly point, before Glenn Maxwell threw away his wicket by prodding a ball from Jadeja straight into the hands of Sharma.

Mitchell Johnson, another of the suspended quartet to miss the third Test, added just three runs to the board before he also succumbed to a delivery from Ashwin.

Smith was a spectator to events at the other end of the crease, having come in at No 5, but his 53-run partnership with Siddle helped Australia regain some composure, until Smith fell on 46 after tea, edging to debutant Ajinkya Rahane with Ashwin claiming his fourth scalp.

However, Siddle was unbeaten on 47 at the close, adding 42 runs for the ninth wicket with James Pattinson (11).

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