6.10pm local time/12.40pm IST: India pull off epic draw; series still level 1-1
5.35pm local time/12.05pm IST: Under 10 overs left in the day, Paine drops Vihari
This has been one of the best rearguard actions by India in their Test history. At present, this is their 10th longest fourth innings effort in terms of balls faced, and their sixth longest away from home. The last time they batted out more balls in the fourth innings was at Delhi against Pakistan in 1979-80.
It's not been just one partnership that has held the fort as has been the case often in the past in such fourth-innings spectacles. India batsmen's have put a prize on their wickets and have been determined to make Australia bowlers toil hard. Four batsmen - Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari and R Ahswin - have faced 100-plus balls. This is only the second time four of India's batsmen have faced 100-plus balls in the fourth innings of a Test. Including Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, six batsmen have faced 50 or more balls in this innings, which also makes it the first instance for India when six of their batsmen have each faced at least 50 balls in the fourth innings of a Test match. (where balls-faced information is available).
There have been a few fourth-innings marathons by teams in Australia in the recent past, but a majority of these has come at venues with drop-in pitches. Such marathon efforts at the SCG - which doesn't have a drop-in pitch - have been rare. One would have to back to the '63-64 for a longer innings by a team in the fourth innings of a Test match at the SCG. On that occasion, South Africa batted out 117 eight-ball overs to earn a draw against the hosts.
4.45pm local time/11.15am IST: The blockathon continues
3.50pm local time/10.20am IST: The big short
3.10pm local time/9.40am IST: Another unplayable delivery to Pujara
India need: 127 runs
Australia need: Five wickets
2.20pm local time/8.50am IST: If you're a left-hand batsman, bat at No. 5
What is it with No. 5 left-hand batsmen in the fourth innings of Tests lately? In the last couple of years, that combination has been an amazing concoction, starting with Kusal Perera's unbeaten 153 and then Ben Stokes' 135* at Headingley in 2019. Since then, there has also been Matthew Wade's 117 at The Oval, and Fawad Alam's 102 in the Boxing Day Test.
Rishabh Pant got to within three runs of becoming the fifth centurion in 17 innings for left-hand batsman at No.5 in the last innings of a Test. During this period, they average 68.66, compared to 23.15 for right-hand batsmen at No. 5 in the fourth innings. The only 50-plus score by a right-hander is Roston Chase's 102* against England in Gros Islet. While left-handers at No. 5 average thrice as much as right-handers in the fourth innings, there is little to choose between them in the first three innings: 39.81 for left-handers, and 34.61 for right-hand batsmen.
2.05pm local time/8.35am IST: Pant falls short of century; Australia take the new ball
This has not been Nathan Lyon's best Test series, but that wicket of Rishabh Pant came in the nick of time for Australia. The contest between the pair was brilliant cricket. Pant was increasingly eager to take him on ahead of the new ball, connecting with a thumping lofted drive down the ground and another inside-out through cover to move to 97. When Cheteshwar Pujara pulled the first ball of the next over from Cameron Green for four there had been 23 runs scored in 12 balls - not an insignificant chunk as the target was whittled down. Then, with one over to go before the new ball, Pant could not hold back and danced down again to Lyon, this time a thick edge skewed away to backward point. Lyon roared; Pant could hardly drag himself from the crease. It had been a brilliant innings that rattled Australia and gave India a glimmer.
12.45pm local time/7.15am IST: India past halfway mark at lunch
12pm local time/6.30am IST: Lyon to Pant - Part II
Still 20 overs until the new ball, Australia will want something to happen with the old one and for catches to be held. This pitch hasn't quite gone the way it looked it might. The bounce has remained pretty true today. As Justin Langer mentioned last night there is spin, but it's quite slow so the batsmen have time to adjust although Nathan Lyon has created a couple of chances that haven't been taken. Tim Paine won't be nervous yet, 230 is a lot of runs, but they do have fairly recent history of not being able to defend a large fourth-innings total. However, for that notion to even be a faint chance Rishabh Pant will have to bat for most of the day. He's one of the few who have been able to score freely on this surface. Meanwhile, Paine is going through plenty of options include Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green, plus a frequent change of ends for Lyon.
Ninety-two wickets have fallen this series. On 798 occasions the batsmen have not been in control of the response to a delivery. That is a high rate of a wicket every nine not-in-control responses or so. In this innings, though, India have lost just three wickets despite not being in control 64 times. India have enjoyed a bit of luck in this innings, but they will just as quickly turn around and tell you they lost their whole side in 31 not-in-control responses in Adelaide so they are owed some luck.
11.20am local time/5.50am IST: Pant takes on Lyon
10.20am local time/4.50am IST: Lyon gets his first, Pant promoted
Amid the whole debate around Pujara's tempo in the first innings, I am sure you wondered where the team management stood on the topic. In the second innings, the team management might just have replied by promoting Rishabh Pant ahead of Hanuma Vihari to split Pujara and Vihari, who can both end up playing at the same tempo. This is a good move when the ball is around 50-60 overs old. Not so sure what purpose it serves in this innings, but the message seems to be: yes, the tempo might be an issue, and we are looking to do something about it with the limited resources we have. Also this is what R Ashwin had to say about Pant's injury situation:
"The bruise was quite severe and it was quite painful. The elbow can be a very tricky place to deal with."
9.50am local time/4.20am IST: Eight wickets. 309 runsWelcome back for the last day of the fourth Test that may very well see a result today. The hosts are obviously on top because of their full-strength and excellent attack, their local conditions, the depleted India batting line-up (without Kohli and two injured batsmen), and the pressure of batting last on a worn out pitch to save the game. If India manage to draw this, it will surely be counted as a historic effort. Gnasher, who is a bit more awake than me, says:
So what does today have in prospect? A comfortable Australia win? India defiance that falls short? The visitors save the match? Or…surely not 308 runs? You do feel that if the overnight pair are separated early things could finish fairly quickly. Rishabh Pant is carrying an elbow injury, but he is expected to bat, while Ravindra Jadeja has a dislocated thumb and may only bat if the match situation makes it worthwhile. It will be interesting to see the tactics Australia use with the ball today. They will be hoping for some reverse swing, but there could also be some uneven bounce. There's no great pace, so bowling straight and aiming for bowled and lbws could be on the agenda. Could be a day for catches in front of the wicket rather than in the slips. Nathan Lyon has had a quiet series so far. These are conditions look ripe for him. He still needs six wickets for 400.
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo