New Delhi: A listless India were heading for their second successive overseas whitewash after yet another irresponsible batting display reduced the visitors to 166 for six on the fourth day of the final cricket Test against Australia on Friday. Teams:
Set a daunting target of 500, India were left with an arduous task of batting out the entire fifth day to prevent the dominating Australians to sweep the series 4-0 in what has turned out to be a completely lop-sided encounter.
Having lost 0-4 in England last year, India now face the ignominy of losing eight straight Test matches overseas.
The star-studded line-up, that has flattered to deceive throughout the series, failed once again with skipper Virender Sehwag leading the way as he got out in an atrocious manner after smashing his way to a half century.
At stumps, Ishant Sharma (2) and Wriddhiman Saha (0) were holding fort and it will be a mere formality for Australia to take the remaining four wickets on the fifth day. The Indians were still trailing by 334 runs.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon finally came on to his own with 3 for 57 in India's second innings so far.
Opener Gautam Gambhir (3) and Sehwag (62, 53 balls, 12x4) left in the post-lunch session while Rahul Dravid (25), Sachin Tendulkar (13), VVS Laxman (35) and Virat Kohli (22) were back in the hut in the final session.
Gambhir was the first one to leave on 3 when he tried to push hard at a Ryan Harris delivery that was pitched around off-stump and moved a shade and the nick was smartly taken by Brad Haddin behind stumps.
Sehwag played in his customary manner during the 53-ball knock before charging out to a full-toss bowled by Lyon. He ballooned it up for Ricky Ponting who completed a simple catch in the covers.
Dravid, extremely sketchy during his stay at the crease played away from his body off Harris. Mike Hussey stationed at gully took an easy catch.
Sachin Tendulkar was never comfortable during his 46-minute stay at the crease before he tried to play a forward defensive stroke. The resultant bat pad was easily taken by Ed Cowan standing at short-leg.
With his international career in line, Laxman lived dangerously during his 88-ball stay. He got a reprieve when Ponting at second slip dropped a sitter off Harris' bowling.
There were any number of deliveries off which Laxman was beaten, most notably off Peter Siddle which let the fast bowler let out a torrent of verbals at the batsman, for which he was later cautioned by umpire Kumar Dharmasena.
Laxman's fifth wicket stand with Virat Kohli yielded 52 runs off almost 22 overs before both fell in the space of four runs.
Rival skipper Michael Clarke set up a classic trap for the Hyderabadi stylist keeping a short mid-wicket for the flick shots he plays off backfoot.
Laxman flicked Lyon off the backfoot into the hands of Shaun Marsh at short midwicket. His 88-ball knock had four boundaries.
Then the first innings centurion Kohli, gritty but subdued, went for an ill-advised single, probably to protect nightwatchman Ishant Sharma and a direct throw from Ben Hilfenhaus standing at midwicket caught the batsman short of his crease.
Kohli batted for 96 minutes for his 22 runs and hit two fours from 62 balls. In all, the final session of 32 overs yielded only 74 runs for the loss of three wickets for the Indians.
When India started batting in the second innings, Sehwag, at one stage, appeared to be finally coming into his element before he played a dreadful shot.
Sehwag's first two boundaries in a Ben Hilfenhaus over were streaky shots between the slip cordon and the third one too, again off Hilfenhaus was an uppish hit over slips but thereafter the right-handed opener batted with increasing command.
The introduction of Peter Siddle triggered an aggressive response from Sehwag who first punched him through covers, slammed down the next past mid-off and then again cleared the cover fence. Siddle tried to bowl straighter and avoid giving the width to Sehwag yet the latter square cut him for boundary in the next over.
Sehwag was now firing on all cylinders and square cut Ben Hilfenhaus at the other end to enter into 40s. The introduction of Lyon was too tempting for Sehwag to resist himself as he first punched the off-spinner through the covers and then lofted him to raise his half century off only 36 balls with 11 fours.
Sehwag was now in full flow and slammed Siddle through the covers to enter into 60s. But that was as far as Sehwag went as after the drinks, in the first over by Lyon, he came down the track to Lyon and somehow contrived to loft it into the covers.
Sehwag's rollicking innings with a disappointing end lasted 82 minutes and 53 balls and contained 12 hits to the fence. Tendulkar lofted Lyon to midwicket fence almost as soon as he came on to the crease.
Dravid was dour but unsure during his 81-minute stay, making 19 off 58 balls with three fours.
Earlier Australia, resuming at lunch-time score of 154 for 5, declared after a mere three overs, and batting just long enough to give India a target of 500 runs in the fourth innings. Ricky Ponting helped himself to another useful knock remaining unbeaten on 60 as Australia declared at 167 for five.
India: Virender Sehwag (Capt.), Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Virat Kohli, Wriddhimaan Saha (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
Australia: Michael Clarke (Capt.), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (WK), Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus and Nathan Lyon.
New Delhi: A listless India were heading for their second successive overseas whitewash after yet another irresponsible batting display reduced the visitors to 166 for six on the fourth day of the final cricket Test against Australia on Friday.