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Australia in command as India trail by 501 runs


Sydney, Jan 7 : An all-round performance by Australia saw them end the second day’s play with a first innings lead of 501 runs as India finished at 71 for one at stumps in the fourth and final Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) here Wednesday.

Resuming at 348 for two, Australian batsmen hammered the flat Indian bowling attack to declare at 572 for seven with David Warner (101) and captain Steven Smith (117) scoring centuries. In reply, India lost in-form Murali Vijay for a duck on the third ball of the innings. 

However, opener Lokesh Rahul (31 not out), playing his second Test and Rohit Sharma (40 not out) stabilised the innings for India and stayed at the crease till the close of the play.

Australia started the day slowly but steadily as Smith scored his fourth century of the series with Shane Watson (81) providing him strong support from the other end. 

Though the Indian bowlers slowed down the run rate, Smith and Watson gradually extended their third wicket partnership to 196 runs. The enterprise finally came to an end when Watson pulled a short Mohammed Shami delivery, only to be caught by Ashwin at deep mid-wicket.

Smith, who resumed the day at 82 not out, too fell shortly after but not before playing a brilliant innings which turned out to be his eighth Test ton. The 25-year-old also caressed 15 boundaries in his 208-ball knock. 

Indian bowlers lacked venom in their attack which helped the home side build another 114-run partnership between left-handed Shaun Marsh (73) and Joe Burns (58). 

The duo helped their side reach a strong total with a partnership of 114 runs. Unlike the addition of a mere 72 runs from 30 overs in the morning session, Marsh and Burns, who also scored his first Test half-century, helped pile on 118 more runs in 29 overs in the post-lunch session. 

While Marsh scored a fluent 73, which included nine fours and one six, he was ably supported by Burns. 

The two also perished in quick succession but some last minute slogging from Ryan Harris (25 runs from 9 balls) guided Australia to reach an imposing total of 572 for seven when Smith decided to declare.

Indian bowlers, who bled runs throughout Tuesday, showed some rare discipline in the morning session. Unlike the first day when runs came at will, the pitch got slower which helped off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (1/142) to tighten the run flow.

But pacer Shami (five for 122) was the pick of the bowlers as he clinched his second five-wicket haul in Tests and first outside India.

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