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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Rogers, Marsh set up 326-run lead

Australia 530 and 7 for 261 (Rogers 69, Marsh 62*) lead India 465 (Kohli 169, Rahane 147, Harris 4-70) by 326 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A flat drop-in pitch. Possible rain. Brazen Indian batsmen. A brittle touring tail. Reverse swing. An extended day's play. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy not quite secured. A new captain and an older coach. A commitment to entertain.

These were just a few of the variables for Australia after four days of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, as the captain Steven Smith and the coach Darren Lehmann pondered the ideal target to set India on the final day of a contest that the hosts have largely dictated, albeit not firmly enough to keep the visitors beyond hope.

The cut and thrust of the final session, after two earlier brackets of less bracing stuff, left Australia to wonder how many overs they might need to bowl. Shaun Marsh drove, nudged and edged to his first Test 50 in Australia, following up on Chris Rogers' fourth in succession. Smith failed for the first time this series, Shane Watson for the fifth, and David Warner's smashing start was not sustained enough to rattle to a dominant lead.

At the forefront of Smith's mind will be the fact that an Indian victory would keep the series open, and that at this ground a year ago Australia chased down a target of 231 against England with such speed and comfort that a tally twice that many may not have been out of the question. Melbourne's drop-in pitch has shown precious few signs of deterioration.

Only four overs were lost despite an 86-minute rain interruption that delayed the resumption after lunch, and a series of Australian starts kept India interested for the fact that none pushed on to three figures. After India's final two wickets fell to Mitchell Johnson, Warner shrugged off a sore thumb and bruised arm to punch his way to 40 from 42 balls. His dismissal to R Ashwin, who also pouched Rogers, slowed Australia's scoring.

They had rolled up India's tail with familiar ease in the morning. Mitchell Johnson had Umesh Yadav falling caught behind, fending at a short one, second ball of the day, before Mohammed Shami was taken by Steven Smith in the slips when he flashed at a fuller delivery.

Warner cut the first delivery of the innings, an obligingly wide offering from Umesh, to the backward-point boundary, and any hope of early Australian wickets evaporated almost as rapidly - an all-run four came from the second ball. An inside edge past a diving Dhoni was more fortunate, but further boundaries had Umesh withdrawn from the attack nursing figures of 3-0-32-0 and the Australians on their way to a handsome lead by the time the morning concluded.

Ashwin drifted his way through Warner's forward defence to win an lbw verdict from the umpire Richard Kettleborough. Rogers and Shane Watson resumed sturdily enough when the covers were peeled back, their stand worth 41 when the allrounder failed to cover an Ishant Sharma delivery of teasing line and edged through to Dhoni.

Smith made his first low score of the series, a little unlucky to glance Umesh straight into the hands of Rahane at leg slip, but Rogers consistently punched through Dhoni's off side fields to pass 50 for the fourth consecutive innings. He looked set for a hundred until Ashwin, belatedly introduced after the rain, prompted a slightly late forward defensive that resulted in the ball rolling back onto the stumps.

Joe Burns did not last long, an angled bat resulting in an edge behind off Shami, and Brad Haddin was deemed to have glanced Yadav into Dhoni's gloves. Johnson's stay was a little longer and also more hot-tempered, his running battle with Virat Kohli continuing until he lobbed a catch to midwicket.

Marsh kept his cool, and a tally of 62 by the close provided valuable ballast to an innings that risked looking lightweight in the absence of a score from Smith. But Marsh's scoring was less dynamic than Warner or even Rogers' had been, leaving Smith and Lehmann to think long and hard about the many variables open to question when play resumes on day five.

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Home field advantage

13

This draw ends 13 consecutive Tests between Australia and India all won by the home side, going back to a draw in Delhi, October 2008

Rare Draw Coming Up?

17

Number of years since a Test has been drawn at the MCG. The last drawn Test was between SA and Aus in 1997

Just Missing Out

499

Runs scored by Virat Kohli in this series. No overseas No. 4 batsmen has scored 500 runs in a series in Australia.

Run batsmen run

57

Number of 3s run by batsmen in this Test (at tea). Since 2001, the record for the most 3s in a Test is 58 (Aus v Ind, Adelaide, 2003)

A Boatload

848

Runs scored by Australia in this Test, the third-most by either team in Tests between India and Australia

Don't Run on 99 at the MCG!

3

Shaun Marsh's is the 3rd instance of an Australia batsman getting run out on 99 - all three of them have come at the MCG.

Indian Record

9

Number of dismissals collected by MS Dhoni in this Test - India's record for the most dismissals in a Test by a wicketkeeper.

Declare already?

234

Most runs scored on day 5 by a team batting fourth at the MCG in the last 40 years.

Maiden at home

0

Number of fifties Shaun Marsh had got in nine Test innings in Australia before today.

Ishant joins a club

8

Number of Indian bowlers who have taken 300+ international wickets; Ishant Sharma became the eighth

Bunny

7

Number of times Watson has been dismissed by Ishant Sharma in Tests, averaging 19.85 runs per dismissal.

Struggle

8.66

Shane Watson's batting average against R Ashwin in six Test innings; has been dismissed thrice in 55 balls.

Better later

41.70

Chris Rogers' batting average in the second innings as opposed to his average of 30.50 in the first.

Second-innings specialists

4

Second-innings century stands by Rogers and Warner - no other pair has put on more such partnerships in Tests since 2000.