Another bleak day in the field for the visitors as they go to stumps on 231 for eight

Low on confidence and motivation, Australia just can’t get its act together. Match after match the follies have only been repeated, with lethal consequences. Friday was like most days in this series even though Australia lasted the day to finish at 231 for eight.

It was another bleak day of cricket for the visiting side — under a new captain, Shane Watson — as India did not ease the pressure it has maintained relentlessly through the series. The fourth and final Test threatens to take a course similar to the previous three unless Australia stages a coup.

At this stage, however, it looks a distant dream.

The Ferozeshah Kotla was no different than Chepauk, Uppal or the PCA Stadium. Australia elected to bat and ended the day in a miserable state.

The five drastic changes — Watson back in the XI, Mathew Wade for Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson in injured Mitchell Starc’s place, James Pattinson for Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell replacing Moises Henriques — made little impact on the Australian fortunes. The home team blooded Ajinkya Rahane in place of the injured injured Shikhar Dhawan.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma made the ball wobble and skid on the two-paced pitch.

Off-spinner R. Ashwin mixed his deliveries craftily, and there was one outstanding dismissal in his four wickets — he lured Ed Cowan into playing the sweep, only to be bowled around the legs.

Ashwin’s carrom ball accounted for Johnson; it would have embarrassed any batsman, so brilliantly was it concealed.

Ishant was quick to find his rhythm, and his new-ball partner, Bhuvneshwar was effective too.

Looking to make an impact on winning the toss, Australia once again succumbed to tentative measures that came from a defeatist mindset.

There was hardly a batsman in its ranks who could come up with a decisive knock.

David Warner’s poor judgement has been a cause of concern right through the series. The left-hander, who once pulverised India to the tune of 180 off 159 balls at Perth last year, has looked out of depths on the slow and low pitches in India. He is too impulsive for an opener.

Ed Cowan dug in after losing Warner in the second over of the day. Phil Hughes was willing to fight too. A partnership ensued and, for a change, the contest looked engaging.

Having weathered the early storm, Hughes was rattled when struck on the helmet. Awkward bounce was to be expected. Three balls later an uncertain Hughes played on, and Cowan followed next. Skipper Watson stepped out to Jadeja only to be foxed.

A bat-pad catch hastened Wade’s departure and the procession continued with Maxwell, Johnson and Smith.

From 153 for seven at tea, Australia just one wicket in the next session, with Steve Smith (46) and Siddle (47 batting) adding 53 runs for the eighth wicket.

Siddle and Pattinson (11 batting) have now put on 42 runs in 16.4 overs to keep up the good work by the lower order. Their disciplined stay was the brightest phase for Australia. There were shades of its famed grit.

Scoreboard

Australia — 1st innings: E. Cowan b Ashwin 38 (99b, 7x4), D. Warner c Kohli b Ishant 0 (4b), P. Hughes b Ishant 45 (59b, 10x4), S. Watson st Dhoni b Jadeja 17 (56b, 3x4), S. Smith c Rahane b Ashwin 46 (145b, 3x4, 2x6), M. Wade c Vijay b Ashwin 2 (5b), G. Maxwell c Ishant b Jadeja 10 (16b, 1x4, 1x6), M. Johnson b Ashwin 3 (22b), P. Siddle (batting) 47 (125b, 4x4), J. Pattinson (batting) 11 (57b, 1x4), Extras (b-5, lb-7), Total (for eight wickets in 98 overs) 231.

Fall of wickets: 1-4 (Warner), 2-71 (Hughes), 3-106 (Cowan), 4-115 (Watson), 5-117 (Wade), 6-129 (Maxwell), 7-136 (Johnson), 8-189 (Smith).

India bowling: Bhuvneshwar 9-1-43-0, Ishant 14-3-35-2, Ashwin 30-17-40-4, Ojha 23-6-67-0, Jadeja 22-6-34-2.

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