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"You can hear a pin drop in the dressing room": Aussies throw away series

Cricket

Australia will almost certainly hand the Border-Gavaskar trophy back to India today, on day four of the Test series decider, with the hosts 0-19 after being set a victory target of just 106 runs in Dharamsala.

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The top-ranked Test side are in an incredibly strong position to push for a victory that will give them a 2-1 series win, capping six weeks of drama, comebacks, controversies and twists.

A grounded catch claimed by Murali Vijay, ruled not out by the third umpire, provided the latest flashpoint.

Australia skipper Steve Smith appeared to mouth “f***ing cheat” from the Australian balcony after the incident that came late on day three.

It will brew further bad blood between the sides, but won’t have any bearing on the result with the tourists failing to add another run after the reprieve that came at 9-137.

Smith’s side have fought incredibly hard with bat and ball throughout all four Tests, but their bid for the nation’s second Test series win in India since 1969 came unstuck on moving day of the final game.

It started with India resuming at 6-248. Ravindra Jadeja swung momentum his side’s way, slapping six boundaries in a plucky knock of 63 that pushed the hosts to a total of 332.

Australia folded for 137 in response. Collapses of 3-21, 2-5 and 3-1 almost certainly put paid to their hopes of winning the high-stakes contest.

“You can hear a pin drop in the dressing room. It’s been a very disappointing day,” Australia’s batting coach Graeme Hick said.

“The boys are pretty down but they’ll give it a good crack in the morning and you never know, but it’s a tough ask.

“While today was very disappointing, it’s not the only reason we find ourselves in this position.”

Defeat will be hard for every member of the touring party to stomach, but especially Smith. The skipper is likely to finish the leading run-scorer of the series with 499 runs.

Smith, as has been his wont during a record-breaking three centuries in the series, looked to be batting on a different pitch to teammates yesterday.

The classy right-hander raced to 17 in 14 balls before attempting to pull an unthreatening delivery that was floated up outside off stump. The resultant bottom edge dislodged off stump.

“He’s playing too well. Hitting it to any part of the ground he wants. He’ll be disappointed,” Hick said of Smith.

“In some respect I don’t think they’ve worked out how to bowl to him yet, so (his dismissal was) a bit unfortunate for us.”

Smith, David Warner and Matt Renshaw all departed during inspired new-ball spells from Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Shaun Marsh, restricted by a jarred back, only came out to bat when Peter Handscomb fell on 18 during the penultimate over of a chaotic post-lunch session.

Tea was called when Marsh popped up a catch to short leg off the bowling of Jadeja.

Matthew Wade, who swapped barbs with Jadeja during the morning session, finished 25 not out but couldn’t form a big partnership with any member of the tail.

-AAP

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