Russell Jackson

Author's details

Name: Russell Jackson
Date registered: August 4, 2014

Latest posts

  1. The Joy of Six: after the gold rush (when great AFL teams go bad) — May 2, 2017
  2. Nine, Ten, Foxtel or Optus? Australian cricket TV rights explained — April 27, 2017
  3. Carlton stalwart Kade Simpson remains the AFL’s anonymous champion | Russell Jackson — April 26, 2017
  4. Essendon defeat Collingwood in Anzac Day AFL – as it happened — April 25, 2017
  5. On Anzac Day, the AFL should pause and reflect that sport is not war | Russell Jackson — April 24, 2017

Author's posts listings

May 02

The Joy of Six: after the gold rush (when great AFL teams go bad)

Hawthorn and Sydney are both facing the end of an era with their early-season struggles, but plenty of other great football sides have bottomed out

Those pondering the bleakness of Hawthorn’s current plight would do well to remember their other post-golden-era tumble, when the glory-filled Jeans era of the 1980s gave way to the lost years and near-merger of the mid-1990s. Pride comes not only before a fall, but also the recruitment of Simon Crawshay.

Related: Hawthorn’s troubles look as though they’re here to stay for a while | Craig Little

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Apr 27

Nine, Ten, Foxtel or Optus? Australian cricket TV rights explained

As Cricket Australia enter into negotiations with TV networks for their next round of broadcast rights, we look at the state of play for all concerned

Channel Nine, which has been the sole broadcaster of Australia’s home cricket internationals since 1979, currently hold the rights for home Tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20 internationals under a five-year, $500m deal struck in 2013. That arrangement is set to expire after the 2017-18 summer.

Related: ESPN layoffs hit on-air reporters and anchors as 100 employees face cuts

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Apr 26

Carlton stalwart Kade Simpson remains the AFL’s anonymous champion | Russell Jackson

Once a twig-thin rookie who couldn’t get a kick, Kade Simpson is now a Carlton champion and the acme of consistency in lean times

On Saturday afternoon at the MCG, round six of the AFL season presents us with something quintessentially “Carlton.” Playing at home, against winless interstate opponents who are currently rooted to the bottom of the league ladder, the Blues have nevertheless been installed by the bookies as $6.25 underdogs. Only Carlton.

Their opponents, once-mighty Sydney, are struggling badly but you’d still fancy them to win. Yet the only real certainty of the encounter is this: Blues half-back flanker Kade Simpson will gather somewhere between 20 and 35 possessions, and he will hit the target with most of them. He’ll also reel in between seven and 10 marks; for at least one of those Simpson will sprint recklessly into oncoming traffic, and for another he’ll probably climb onto the back of an opponent or thrillingly intercept an errant forward entry.

Related: On Anzac Day, the AFL should pause and reflect that sport is not war | Russell Jackson

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Apr 25

Essendon defeat Collingwood in Anzac Day AFL – as it happened

  • Essendon defeat Collingwood by 18 points in Anzac Day blockbuster
  • Joe Daniher takes out Anzac Day medal for commanding display

9.06am BST

That’s it from me, but thanks for joining us for what proved an absorbing game of Anzac Day football.

Bit of gusto in that …

9.01am BST

And there are no surprises here as the big forward steps up to receive his medal, paying tribute to Collingwood for their determined effort. “To our boys, a really proud effort,” he says, “and hopefully a big stepping stone going forward.”

Daniher had 16 possessions, eight marks, 3.4 in front of goal and did plenty of valuable work through the middle when he was dragged into the ruck. Zach Merrett was also yuuuge with 33 possessions, and Jobe Watson (28), Dyson Heppell (26) and Darcy Parish (25) all had special moments. Orazio Fantasia’s four goals and three for Josh Green also proved decisive.

8.57am BST

Collingwood 11.16 (82) defeated by Essendon 15.10 (100)

And that is all she wrote! The Bombers win it by three goals and deserve their victory. They were the better side for much of the day, and in Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia, had the two standout forwards. “They’re a good side,” says Jobe Watson, being interviewed by his father Tim. “Sometimes you’ve just gotta grind it out and will yourself to win the game.”

8.51am BST

Pies goal! 4th quarter (4:06 remaining): Collingwood 11.15 (81) vs Essendon 15.10 (100)

Jack Crisp gets one back for the Pies, but it’s too little too late at this point. The horse has bolted, and disappeared down Brunton Avenue. We have a crowd figure now, and I wasn’t too far off: 87,685.

8.47am BST

Bombers goal! 4th quarter (6:18 remaining): Collingwood 10.14 (74) vs Essendon 15.10 (100)

Joe Daniher gets his third with a raking left foot shot on goal and surely that sews up the Anzac Day medal for him, right? He’s been superb today, covering every inch of the ground and looking like a potential great of the game.

8.45am BST

No goal but here’s an update! 4th quarter (7:42 remaining): Collingwood 10.14 (74) vs Essendon 14.10 (94)

Wonderful scenes here as Josh Green lays off a handball, which is an event you don’t often get to witness. Like Allen Jakovich in the 90s, he’ll only ever do so if a defender has him in a sleeper hold. Jeremy Howe takes a screamer over Green’s head a few minutes later, but it’s about as useful as truffle oil on Heinz baked beans at this point.

8.38am BST

Pies goal! 4th quarter (12:50 remaining): Collingwood 10.14 (74) vs Essendon 14.10 (94)

He’s received pretty dismal service again today, but Darcy Moore gets a decent run at the ball now and leaps over his man to mark strongly overhead and drill a set shot from 25 metres out. That’s his second, but the Pies are running out of time to stage another comeback.

8.36am BST

Bombers goal! 4th quarter (13:49 remaining): Collingwood 9.14 (68) vs Essendon 14.10 (94)

Having kicked nine goals in three quarters of football the Pies basically need five now to win it in the final 20 minutes of the game. Unlikely? You’d think so. Actually, put down your glasses. Cale Hooker has just marked a few metres from goal on a slight angle and lived up to his name with a snap shot that curves through the middle. You can probably stick a fork in Nathan Buckley’s side now.

8.32am BST

Bombers goal! 4th quarter (17:03 remaining): Collingwood 9.14 (68) vs Essendon 13.9 (87)

Now Josh Green goals! He’s got three, and he does so this time by crumbing a pack split by pint-sized Fantasia! Again it was Joe Daniher winning the ball in the middle. All three are having blinders in the last 20 minutes of play. The Bombers are surging.

8.30am BST

Bombers goal! 4th quarter (17:44 remaining): Collingwood 9.13 (67) vs Essendon 12.9 (81)

OK, half an hour to play. No team since the Pies in ‘96 has come back from a three-quarter time deficit and won this game. Collingwood do at least go forward to start the term but Brodie Grundy’s hurried snap hooks right. Essendon go forward thereafter, and there is a role reversal: Daniher wins it through the middle and kicks long, where Fantasia outmuscles his man to mark 30 metres from goal. He goes back, eyes up the goals and nails it, before running at a few of his opponents and getting up in their grilles! Brilliant stuff, though perhaps an early crow.

8.22am BST

Collingwood 9.12 (66) vs Essendon 11.9 (75)

Holy moly. This is a serious game of football, and well set for a classic Anzac Day footy finish. Daniel Wells almost played a part in another Pies goal late in the piece, when he arrowed a pass to Taylor Adams, but the former Giant misses his set shot from 30 metres out on a slight angle. That’s been the story of the day: neither side able to finish it off with their kicking at goal. Hang with us. We’ve got the close one.

8.18am BST

Pies goal! 3rd quarter (1:50 remaining) Collingwood 9.11 (65) vs Essendon 11.9 (75)

Hoo boy. Now a holding-the-ball decision goes against Essendon, and it hands Phillips a shot at goal. Perhaps in the spirit of the moment, he hooks his snap to the right for a behind. That seems fair to me. But…you can’t deny Daniel Wells. It’s his first game for the Pies but he’s making a hero of himself, and now produces an Abblettesque snap out of a pack to peg back Essendon’s lead. As three-quarter time approaches he has two goals from his 21 possessions.

8.14am BST

Bombers goal! 3rd quarter (3:59 remaining) Collingwood 8.10 (58) vs Essendon 11.9 (75)

Michael Hurley has a shocker here as a pass slides off the outside of his boot and out of bounds, but it must be said that the young Bombers are displaying admirable composure here. Especially so given the rub of the green has not always gone their way. Having missed a few chances in front of goal, Daniher has been moved into the ruck and now sprints down the wing with Lance Franklin-like grace before sending a bullet pass inside 50 for Josh Green. Green holds his ground to mark it, then calmly slots the conversion to make it three in a row for the Dons. Can Collingwood come back from this counter-punch?

8.10am BST

Bombers goal! 3rd quarter (7:29 remaining) Collingwood 8.10 (58) vs Essendon 10.9 (69)

Essendon are being stuffed by the umpires here. Now Levi Greenwood gets caught holding the ball and it’s not given. At least they’re consistent, but you’d struggle to explain that one to any seasoned footy fan. With poetic justice, Fantasia gets a bit of body contact on Varcoe to find some space running towards goal, and having latched onto a looping pass he gathers the ball and snaps on his left foot to get his side back-to-back goals. Fantasia has three now. he’s been superb.

8.07am BST

Bombers goal! 3rd quarter (10:06 remaining) Collingwood 8.10 (58) vs Essendon 9.9 (63)

Boom! Daniher gets a 70-metre goal within seconds of the bounce! He gets the ball in a bit of space as he lumbers through the middle and then boots it long over the top to skid the ball through from miles out. This game is a cracker!

8.05am BST

Pies goal! 3rd quarter (10:23 remaining) Collingwood 8.10 (58) vs Essendon 8.9 (57)

Essendon are a bit unlucky here as Merrett brings Broomhead to the ground in a perfect tackle, but the umpire swallows his whistle. There are grave consequences for the Bombers; Darcy Parish bounces badly to be dispossessed, the Pies go forward, where Taylor Adams marks 40 metres from goal, and his short snap pas puts Darcy Moore through for an open goal on the run!

8.03am BST

Pies goal! 3rd quarter (11:23 remaining) Collingwood 7.10 (52) vs Essendon 8.9 (57)

Now Daniel Wells gets one! It was scrappy stuff in the lead-up, so much so that Wells was like a Maserati slowly gliding its way through a dodgy part of town as he waltzed inside 50, leant back into his running shot and stroked the ball through the middle. The momentum is back with the Pies!

8.00am BST

Pies goal! 3rd quarter (13:23 remaining) Collingwood 6.10 (46) vs Essendon 8.9 (57)

Jamie Elliott responds! The Pies would be struggling without him and Treloar. It’s a very quick reply this time, as Elliott hangs off a contest and stays free with his left boot swinging through a close-range snap.

7.59am BST

Bombers goal! 3rd quarter (13:47 remaining) Collingwood 5.10 (40) vs Essendon 8.9 (57)

Brendan Goddard is really asserting himself across half-back now for the Dons, and again cuts off another Pies forward move with an intercept mark. Collingwood reload, and Fasolo marks 35 metres out on the boundary. Unsurprisingly, he runs around an attempts a mercurial snap, and also unsurprisingly, I fear, he hooks it to the right. Essendon swing forward and Ben Reid has a shocker, over-running a ground ball, and Josh Green finally swoops to pilfer a goal, snapping truly on the left and pumping his fists like it’s red time in a grand final. Good stuff.

7.56am BST

Bombers goal! 3rd quarter (15:34 remaining) Collingwood 5.9 (39) vs Essendon 7.9 (51)

We’re off and away in the second half, and the game is being played under far darker skies than we saw in the first. Brendan Goddard sends the Dons inside 50 with a superbly-weighted pass and Zak Merrett floats in to take an uncontested mark. Not so good: he shanks the set shot right for a minor score.

7.40am BST

The one stat that says it all: Collingwood are now +5 for inside-50s. They peppered the goals late in that second term, and really could have taken greater advantage of it. They’re also +3 for tackles and have almost drawn level on contested possession. It was a significant turnaround from the tone of the game in it’s first 45-50 minutes. A key contributor there has been Adam Treloar. Half of his 18 possessions have been contested ones, plus he’s had seven tackles and kicked a team-lifting goal to finish the first half. If he continues on this path he could prove a game-winner.

7.32am BST

Collingwood 5.9 (39) vs Essendon 6.6 (42)

Well, that was a turn up for the books. The Pies ended up with four goals to two in that second term, and it could have been far worse for Essendon as Collingwood had all the momentum in the last ten minutes but couldn’t quite finish off their work. The Dons were perfectly comfortable until then, but they’ll be very happy to trot off for what might prove another momentum-shifting break. The Pies certainly finished with all the running.

7.30am BST

Pies goal! 2nd quarter (0:43 remaining) Collingwood 5.9 (39) vs Essendon 6.6 (42)

Oh my word this game has gone up a notch. It’s getting a bit careless now by the Dons. They get lucky when Taylor Adams misses a 35m set shot to the right, and with inside five minutes to go in the first half the Pies are actually a chance of drawing close at the main break. After Treloar goes inside 50 to a contest, a mad scramble for the crumbs ends up with Jack Crisp marking a short pass 35 metres from goal. It’s a chance he has to nail, but he fluffs it, and Jamie Elliott hits the post soon after.

7.23am BST

Pies goal! 2nd quarter (6:00 remaining) Collingwood 4.4 (28) vs Essendon 6.6 (42)

The Bombers continue to keep Collingwood in it, bless ‘em. Now it’s Fantasia who forgoes a 40-metre set shot to try and hit Hooker on the chest in the goal square, but the kick is shanked right and the tall Bomber is covered by the time he’s been able to gather it. Again the Pies go forward and appear to immediately score an utterly random goal when Fasolo half-volleys one through from the goal square, and replays confirm that Michael Hurley didn’t get a touch on it. John Worsfold must be spitting chips up in the box. His side has been dominant, but they lead by only 14 points.

7.18am BST

Bombers goal! 2nd quarter (7:52 remaining) Collingwood 3.4 (22) vs Essendon 6.6 (42)

Matthew Richardson is calling this game a “50/50 contest” now, but surely it’s a case of Essendon simply finishing their solid work? The Pies are hanging in there, but only just. Right on cue, Dyson Heppell spins Adam Treloar in a tackle to force an incorrect disposal, and Nathan Buckley duly drops his phone onto the desk and throws his head back like he’s just received a call from a telemarketing company. Heppell is 25 metres from goal on a slight angle and jails it. Twenty points is a handy lead in these conditions.

7.16am BST

Pies goal! 2nd quarter (9:22 remaining) Collingwood 3.4 (22) vs Essendon 5.6 (36)

Alex Fasolo’s dirty day continues when he climbs all over Michael Hurley’s back and head as the Dons defender runs into the goal square to relieve pressure, earning himself a free kick for the illegal contact as he dives for the ball. Essendon swing it forward through Colyer and Daniher marks strongly again, but he’s on another very unkind angle and sends his banana kick across the face of goal for a minor score. That takes him to 1.3, but he’s looked lively throughout this half.

7.10am BST

Bombers goal! 2nd quarter (12:58 remaining) Collingwood 2.4 (16) vs Essendon 5.4 (34)

It’s not all polished, but Collingwood are actually getting first use of the ball here. They’ve thrown Daniel Wells into the centre square and he’s having a genuine impact. A dinky little kick from him releases a team-mate who gets it forward, and moments later Mason Cox snaps accurately for a goal. Or does he? Zak Merrett thinks he’s touched it off the boot so we get a score review. It gets the red light! Pies fans are not happy!

7.00am BST

Pies goal! 2nd quarter (18:37 remaining) Collingwood 2.2 (14) vs Essendon 4.3 (27)

As we get under way in the second term, here are some stats from the first: Essendon were +5 clearances for clearances, +2 for inside-50s (it really wasn’t more than that?), +23 for disposals and +8 for contested possessions. Plus-19 on the scoreboard is what counts, but right as I say that, Travis Varcoe makes a slight side-step and arrows an accurate pass to Jamie Elliott. Elliott has one already, and makes no mistake with his 40-metre set shot. Boy did Collingwood need that start.

6.52am BST

Collingwood 1.2 (8) vs Essendon 4.3 (27)

And that’ll do us for the first quarter, one that has been dominated by Essendon for a 19-point lead that might have been a little more. The Dons are sharper, faster, cleaner with the ball, and have lacked only for a little polish in finishing their hard work. Nathan Buckley has a lot of thinking to do here.

6.49am BST

No goal but here’s an update! 1st quarter (1:10 remaining) Collingwood 1.2 (8) vs Essendon 4.3 (27)

Geez, Alex Fasolo must frustrate Pies fans. Here he gets on the end of Scott Pendlebury’s attempted shot at goal and marks at the top of the square, but he did so because he’d given Michael Hurley a very obvious shove in the back. No dice, Faz. The Bombers swing back into attack immediately and towering Joe Daniher slides into a diving mark just outside the 50-metre arc. He elects to take the set shot but hooks it right. He’s frustrated, but might have a monster day the way this is going.

6.43am BST

Bombers goal! 1st quarter (6:10 remaining) Collingwood 1.2 (8) vs Essendon 4.1 (25)

When the Pies go forward it looks chancy, when Essendon do they look like they’ll definitely score, and here Orazio Fantasia gets on the end of a toe-poke as the Dons outnumber their opponents streaming inside 50. Fantasia goes back to take his kick, which is 30 metres from goal and directly in front, and he makes no mistake with his conversion. At seven attempts he’s still to miss a set shot this season. He’s batting 1000!

6.41am BST

No goal but here’s an update anyway! 1st quarter (7:21 remaining) Collingwood 1.2 (8) vs Essendon 3.1 (19)

Travis Colyer’s pace is a real problem for Collingwood, but his last two possessions have actually resulted in the ball being turned over, because he has confidence to match. Sometimes that can be a little reckless, but he’s taking the game on. Again, out of nowhere, the Pies tumble the ball forward to create a scoring opportunity. This time it’s Tim Broomhead screwing the ball across his body before Alex Fasolo slides into a chest mark, but his 30 metre set shot is off target. If Collingwood are to stand a chance today he’s got to nail those.

6.33am BST

Bombers goal! 1st quarter (12:21 remaining) Collingwood 1.0 (6) vs Essendon 3.1 (19)

So far so good as far as the contest is concerned. It’s greasy and the ball hard to handle, but the play is remarkably free-flowing. Mason Cox made a star of himself on debut in this game last year, but makes a hash of a one-handed mark inside 50 for the Pies. Essendon rebound and James Kelly sends them inside 50, where Joe Daniher picks up the loose ball and displays some nimble footwork, but his long-range snap sails left for a minor score.

6.29am BST

Pies goal! 1st quarter (15:20 remaining) Collingwood 1.0 (6) vs Essendon 2.0 (12)

Essendon go hammering forward again from the centre bounce, but Ben Reid takes a relieving mark and then sets the Pies off on a spree of their own; a series of clean disposals moves them inside 50 and Jamie Elliott runs into space, Pagan’s paddock style, marking Alex Fasolo’s final pass and booting a running goal from the top of the square to life the Collingwood cheer squad to their feet. The Pies have responded.

6.27am BST

Bombers goal! 1st quarter (16:01 remaining) Collingwood 0.0 (0) vs Essendon 2.0 (12)

Daniel Wells is wearing the No3 guernsey in his first game for the Pies and gets buried in a tackle after slightly fumbling his first touch of the game. That done, Jobe Watson is trotting off the ground with blood trickling down from above his eye and when play resumes, Collingwood are deep into their forward 50. Sidebottom almost marks but Essendon clear the danger.

6.23am BST

Bombers goal! 1st quarter (18:24 remaining) Collingwood 0.0 (0) vs Essendon 1.0 (6)

After Dyson Heppell wins the toss and elects to kick towards the Punt Road end, Brodie Grundy gets the first hit-out, and Collingwood edge their way forward on the southern side of the ground. Light rain continues to fall at the MCG, and these conditions will not favour accurate use of the ball.

6.13am BST

Pre-match commemorative ceremonies are now under way… with RSL president Robert Webster reading the ode of remembrance. The stands are packed with fans, who rise to their feet in silence and remove their hats for the last post. The crowd must be 90,000 + by the look of it, and light rain is now falling at the MCG.

6.05am BST

Today’s joint team banner

Lest We Forget.#ANZACDay

6.02am BST

We see some vision from the Essendon rooms

“Self-sacrifice is about playing a role for the team,” says John Worsfold, addressing his men. He’s actually talking about football, to be fair to him, but the broadcaster has played it twice in an apparent attempt to tie it all in with Anzac Day. No dice, guys. Back live, Essendon are out on the ground and Ben McNiece is taking some deep, nerve-settling breaths as he works through his pre-game warm-up. I’m very much looking forward to seeing his piercing left-foot passes, which is what everyone is raving about before his debut.

5.52am BST

Mark Seymour is now belting out a few tunes for the MCG crowd. Actually, “belting out” mightn’t be the word for it. It’s all a bit tame. Thrown in before “Do you see what I see?” and “Throw your arms around me” is a new one called “Tobruk Pin”. It goes down like a bit of sound-check noodling. At time of writing there has been no “Holy Grail”, but it can’t be far away. Update: no Holy Grail. Ripped off.

5.20am BST

Our teams today

The Pies have dropped jesse White, Josh Smith and Jarryd Blair in reaction to last week’s loss, and what was so glaring about that one was their atrocious field kicking. Of the inclusions, at least Wells should offer greater composure as Collingwood head forward.

5.13am BST


Hello all and welcome to Anzac Day AFL from the MCG, where Collingwood take on Essendon in the now-traditional blockbuster. The Pies have won two of the last three instalments of this game, but should have a far harder task on their hands in today’s game. The Bombers currently sit three ladder places above 13th-placed Collingwood, but there are decent hopes for a tight game. Weather? A Mark McGough-friendly downpour forced closure of the MCG car park, but it’s cleared a little in the last hour and the sun is coming out.

2.42am BST

Russell will be here shortly. But first, have a read of his excellent, personal story on the comparisons all too often made on this day each year:

Related: On Anzac Day, the AFL should pause and reflect that sport is not war | Russell Jackson

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Apr 24

On Anzac Day, the AFL should pause and reflect that sport is not war | Russell Jackson

Anzac Day has a different meaning to each and every Australian, but football should acknowledge that sport and war are not analogous endeavours

Every year the AFL’s “traditional” Anzac Day game between Collingwood and Essendon throws up at least one new and mildly unpleasant variation to its ongoing body of work commercialising war. And yes, “throws up” is a deliberate choice of phrasing in this instance.

In 2017, to reserve a seat at a football game positioned as an afternoon of commemoration and reverence, fans will have their wallets gouged by ticket price increases of up to 80%; honour our fallen heroes by paying $72 to sit in the nosebleeds, and don’t forget the exorbitant booking fee to print your own ticket. It’s what the diggers would have wanted.

Related: It often pays to be sceptical of the AFL’s social responsibility epiphany | Craig Little

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Apr 13

Melbourne’s sports talk radio boom: is anyone actually listening? | Russell Jackson

Like all traditional mediums, radio is starting to feel ‘disruption’, with audiences increasingly fragmented across live streams, apps and podcasts

It’s 10:13am on Tuesday and a caller has something to say about missing Fremantle Docker Harley Bennell’s latest ankle injury, so SEN radio host Kevin “KB” Bartlett puts him to air. “Connective tissue is a little bit like a ligament strain,” the man starts. We’re not told what, if any, medical qualifications the caller holds and unsure whether the diagnosis that follows is medically sound, but the man certainly sounds sure of himself. On sports radio confidence counts for plenty. Barlett’s co-host on this segment has just claimed he doesn’t want to share his thoughts on Bennell, lest he sound racist, so the sudden appearance of the show’s own Dr Nick Riviera actually counts as welcome relief.

This is sports talk, SEN style: a strange and verbose mix of old-timey front bar wisdom, sporting group therapy, crowd-sourced medical conjecture and an ever-churning footy rumour mill. Bartlett is a master of the format – a 403-game AFL legend who can muster an emphatic opinion on almost any sport topic thrown at him, at the same time skilfully cutting off nonsense-spouting callers and guests alike. An hour after the Bennell discussion he’ll wonder at length whether footballers who take their mouthguards out before kicking at goal are more accurate at taking set-shots.

Related: The Warriors review – breezy Aussie Rules drama not afraid of sharp edges

The lingering question here is what appeal these endless weekday sports radio yak-athons still hold

These things take time. You need to invest and build your audience, then the advertisers come

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Apr 10

Perhaps it’s time to stop interrogating Gary Ablett’s dignified brilliance | Russell Jackson

Gary Ablett was pilloried before playing a starring role in Gold Coast’s win over Hawthorn, but the AFL great is now well beyond having to prove himself

At the start of the 2017 AFL season Gary Ablett’s CV contained items including but not limited to the following: 288 league games; 7,221 of the most beguiling disposals in the game’s history; 378 goals of varying complexity and historical importance; two life-affirming, drought-breaking premiership medals; two of the most convincing and deserved Brownlow medals; five league AFLPA MVP awards from his peers; five club best and fairest awards; eight All-Australian jumpers. And just for the sake of something exotic: three leading goal-kicker awards.

All of this Ablett achieved without a single noteworthy behavioural indiscretion or scandal at either of his two clubs. He did it as the embodiment of work ethic, dignity, humility and dedication, while stretching the parameters and possibilities of his sport.

Related: Gold Coast Suns condemn Hawthorn to stunning third straight AFL defeat

Related: All about heart and hate – the bedrock of any AFL rivalry worth its salt | Craig Little

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Apr 05

‘No club should go under’: the battle to save the Frankston Dolphins

Born in 1877 but thrown out of their league by AFL Victoria at the end of 2016, the crisis-stricken Frankston Dolphins hope to become a football miracle

Hardy Melbourne football fans arriving at Frankston Dolphins VFL games from the bayside end of Frankston Park are confronted by a set of towering, ornamental gates, which sit between two imposing stonework pillars. In their first life, these unusual decorative flourishes stood at the front the Old Melbourne Gaol. Now, owing to the various crises of the football club to whom they belong, they’re the only prison gates in Melbourne not greeting regular arrivals.

The 2017 VFL season – which kicks off on Saturday with a clash between Gary Ayres’ Port Melbourne and the Carlton-affiliated Northern Blues – will for the first time since 1966 not feature a side from Frankston. Last year the competition battlers’ licence was revoked by AFL Victoria as debts of a reported $1.5m threatened to sink the club without trace.

Related: What becomes of the broken hearted: the footy stalwarts who kept Fitzroy alive | Russell Jackson

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Apr 04

Confusion over AFL rules a byproduct of policy on the run | Russell Jackson

The past decade of AFL football has seen an increase in league rule changes, which are often reactive and not in the interests of the game’s aesthetic

It’s probably best to start this missive with a promise: what follows is not another self-indulgent paean to the glory of 1990s football, or some wistful plea for the return of torpedoes, $1.50 meat pies and Jason Dunstall kicking the ton every year. But … even discounting the breathless outrage surrounding Callum Mills’ rushed behind for Sydney last weekend, the rules of AFL football are now a topic so maddening that one could be excused for seeking solace in the nostalgic comforts of Allen Jakovich’s AFL Tables page.

Let’s get the Mills one out of the way first. You wouldn’t know it from the league’s flip-flopping approach to the issue over the past decade, but a deliberate rushed behind really is a black and white scenario: either you’ve deliberately rushed a behind or you haven’t. Pressure, as St Kilda coach Alan Richardson suggested this week, should not come into it. Because what is pressure, exactly? How can a sprinting, breathless, neck-craning, perhaps out-of-position umpire really tell what is going through the mind of a defender as he rushes a behind in real time?

Related: Winless Hawthorn serve up unfamiliar feeling to fans amid current malaise | Craig Little

These laws explain how a match of Australian football is played and seek to attain the following objectives:

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Mar 28

India blaze their way to 2-1 Border-Gavaskar series win – as it happened

  • India defeat Australia by eight wickets to take four-Test series 2-1
  • Home side claims back Border-Gavaskar Trophy as KL Rahul dominates

7.16am BST

That is a wrap from me

But thank you for stopping by on what has been a disappointing day for Australia, who conceded the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Thank you also for your company throughout this series, which has been claimed 2-1 by India. Want more? Here is the latest from the ground thanks to Adam Collins:

Related: India knock off runs to secure victory and claim series win over Australia

7.14am BST

Actually, Virat Kohli will have the final word

And he’s donned his whites! Look out John Terry! “Unbelievable,” he says. “I think this is our best series win so far. The Australian team gave us a fight throughout the series. The way the guys kept bouncing back showed the spirit of this team. The maturity and the responsibility shown by all of the guys was very pleasing.”

7.09am BST

The final word comes from the winning captain Ajinkya Rahane

“I really enjoyed it,” says the stand-in captain. “I thought our bowlers, batsmen and fielders all did well. Everyone did well.”

7.03am BST

No huge surprises there, at least not at first. Smith made 499 runs for the series, including three centuries, and deserves his trophy and cheque. But then Jadeja gets the “man of the series” award, so I’m really not sure what they’ve given Smith.

Update: Smith is merely “player of the series”. He’s apparently not quite the man Jadeja is. Jadeja certainly shaded him for half-century celebrations with his sword-work.

Virat Kohli “I think this was our best series win so far.” #INDvAUS

7.01am BST

Four wickets and a valuable 63 in the first innings were crucial for India, though they don’t let him stop by for a chat. His performances did all the talking.

7.00am BST

Steve Smith steps forward now for a word

“It was a maginficent series, and one of the best I’ve been part of so far,” the Aussie skipper says. “We played some good cricket in this series and had our opportunities at time… Credit to India for winning the series 2-1.”

6.48am BST

Sachin Tendulkar is reasonably happy

…and we’ll have the presentation ceremony shortly.

Indiaaa Indiaaa Indiaaa Indiaaa!!!! #IndVAus

6.42am BST

No word from Steve Smith just yet, but it can’t be far away. First we wait for a kind of ‘This is your Life’ starring every figure in Indian cricket. What happened to interviewing the losing captain first?

6.39am BST

A final reader email

It comes from Robert McLiam Wilson, OBO favourite. He’s a bit full of himself, mind you. “It’s painful to admit it, as your regular ‘funny’ emailer (always a ready quip and a sick burn), but there’s no comedy here,” he writes. “Because this may well have been the perfect series. Stunning cricket. There wasn’t a bad quarter of an hour. Well done everyone (OBO included).” Cheers Bob.

Most Runs #INDvAUS Series:

Steve Smith 499
Cheteshwar Pujara 405
Lokesh Rahul 393
Matt Renshaw 232
Ajinkya Rahane 198
Peter Handscomb 198

6.38am BST

Che Pujara and KL Rahul stop by for a word with Ravi Shastri

“We wanted to win it 3-1,” says Pujara, not quite content with 2-1. “We are very happy. We wanted to be number one in the Test rankings and the way we’ve played has been fantastic.”

6.33am BST

We’re waiting for word from the captains

…but in the meantime, here’s the match report:

Related: India knock off runs to secure victory and claim series win over Australia

6.32am BST

India’s last Test series v all teams:

Aus – Won
Ban – Won
Eng – Won
NZ – Won
Pak – Won
SL – Won
SA – Won
WI – Won
Zim – Won#IndvAus

6.27am BST

All smiles as Virat Kohli and his men shake hands with the tourists

It’s been a spiteful series at times, but also offered genuinely compelling cricket. On balance India deserve this 2-1 series win. When it’s mattered they’ve been that little bit better, and they took their opportunities when they came to recover from a 1-0 deficit early in the series. Three first-time Test venues perhaps brought Australia into the series more than they might have been at grounds more familiar to the Indian side, but in a difficult series for batsmen India’s were just that little bit better. How sad it is that it had to end.

6.25am BST

Rahul gets his half-century and hits the inning runs!

24th over: India 106-2 (Rahul 52, Rahane 38) – India win by eight wickets

6.21am BST

23rd over: India 102-2 (Rahul 48, Rahane 37) – India require four runs to win

Steve Smith decides against a comedy bowling change and continues with Lyon, so we’ll probably see a bit of nudging and nurdling until India reach their target. Lyon has an enthusiastic LBW shout against Rahane but Marais Erasmus turns it down and the ball tumbles away for four leg byes beyond a diving David Warner. As Lyon bowls his final delivery of the over India need four, but Rahane doesn’t chance his arm, so Rahul will have a chance to reach that sixth 50 of the tour.

6.17am BST

22nd over: India 95-2 (Rahul 46, Rahane 36) – India require 11 runs to win

One last roll of the dice for Steve O’Keefe, who has been a mostly solid and occasionally spectacular contributor for Australia on this tour. Rahane gives him slightly more deferential treatment than that meted out to Pat Cummins, but when the Indian skipper gets one down the leg side he feathers a glance down to the fence at fine leg. It’s all over bar the shouting in Dharamsala.

6.13am BST

21st over: India 89-2 (Rahul 46, Rahane 30) – India require 17 runs to win

A rather beleaguered Nathan Lyon gets another over, and it’s a calm one compared to the pyrotechnics of the last, but Rahul gets a boundary with a more conventional stroke when he cuts hard forward of point. He’s within one blow of his sixth half-century of the series, which has been a mighty effort in a tough month for batsmen. Whatever the circumstances or conditions he’s stood tall for India.

6.10am BST

20th over: India 84-2 (Rahul 42, Rahane 29) – India require 22 runs to win

Bang! Says Brett Lee: “What a ball!” (incorrect) “But what a shot!” (correct). Cummins sends down a 148kmph half-tracker and the Indian skipper belts it over cow corner with a mighty pull shot. Next up he shuffles down leg and absolutely creams another one over the ropes at deep extra cover. Oh boy, this is some kind of display from Ajinkya Rahane. He’s turned into Chris Lynn in the last few minutes. Virat Kohli – the man he replaced as leader for this game – has only lead by example with respect to his spiky persona. Rahane is doing it with his bat. His assault on Cummins suspended with a single, he looks around the arena and notes his side requires only 22 more to win. What a cameo this is turning into. Rahane is 29 from 16. Australia are cooked.

6.02am BST

19th over: India 71-2 (Rahul 42, Rahane 16) – India require 35 runs to win

Nathan Lyon continues. He’s got a slip and a short leg for Rahul, so pursues a leg stump line. Rahul sneaks a single, but the bowling approach doesn’t change much, and Rahane also gets one to the leg side. An inside edge from Rahul as he drives brings leg gully David Warner into play, though not to the extent Lyon was hoping. This is slipping away from Australia as play stops for drinks.

5.58am BST

18th over: India 67-2 (Rahul 39, Rahane 15) – India require 39 runs to win

Glenn Maxwell strikes again! What a weapon he is for Australia patrolling thew inner ring. Another direct hit from him has KL Rahul in trouble at the non-striker’s end but the Indian batsman just made his ground. Not so good is a half-tracker outside the line of leg stump from Cummins, who is belted around the corner for another Ajinkya Rahane boundary. The Indian skipper has all the energy of this match coursing through him but he’s channelling it to his side’s advantage. This target is being whittled away rapidly.

5.53am BST

17th over: India 62-2 (Rahul 38, Rahane 11) – India require 44 runs to win

Lyon has full control of his repertoire early in this spell but Rahane looks to get after him immediately, sweeping with intent to pick up a single. KL Rahul then gets luck, pushing forward hard and sending a thick but some would say controlled outside edge flying away through the vacant gully region for a boundary. Michael Clarke is still on about the number of men out on the boundary. He’s certainly not shy about criticising Steve Smith’s captaincy, which is welcome in these days of soft serve punditry.

5.49am BST

16th over: India 56-2 (Rahul 33, Rahane 10) – India require 50 runs to win

Pat Cummins continues with three slips and a gully in place for Ajinkya Rahane, but they’re unlikely to come into play while he’s bowling half-volleys. The Indian skipper gets forward with a straight bat and hammers the Australian paceman down the ground with exquisite timing. That’s four, and so is the next delivery, to which he steps back smartly to pick off a lofted pull shot. That second delivery was 148kmph and he didn’t quite nail the shot, but it fizzes away to the fence.

5.43am BST

15th over: India 47-2 (Rahul 33, Rahane 1) – India require 59 runs to win

“What is going on out here?” asks Michael Clarke as Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane gets off the mark with a single from the new bowler, Nathan Lyon. He refers not to the wicket-taking carnage of last over, but the fact Steve Smith has three men posted on the boundary. Everyone is a bit tense, it’s fair to say. Lyon beats the outside edge with a jaffa to finish his first over. People: breathe. I repeat: breathe.

5.40am BST

Chaos! Maxwell runs Pujara out with a direct hit! Oh my word, what were the batsmen thinking? Pujara bunts Cummins into the covers, where Maxwell is on his toes and moves in quickly, and after a mid-pitch stutter and conflicting calls, Pujara eventually agrees to run though. A problem there: he’s still only halfway down the pitch as Maxwell gathers, takes deliberate aim and throws down the stumps with an emphatic direct hit. Holy moly.

5.34am BST

Cummins gets the breakthrough! And it was a beauty – slightly short of a length, plenty of bounce and nipping away from Vijay, who was stuck on the crease and pushing forward with hard hands. Wade accepts the simple chance and things are now at least a little bit interesting. India require 60 runs to win and have nine wickets in hand.

5.32am BST

13th over: India 46-0 (Vijay 8, Rahul 33) – India require 60 runs to win

Steve Smith has now seen the replay of last over’s non-appeal but for all his eye-rolling, it’s kind of his and his team’s job to be going up for half-chances at this point in the game. Adding insult to injury, Rahul rocks back to Hazlewood and creams a pull shot to the fence at deep mid wicket. An existential question re Australia’s missed chance: what is the point of Matthew Wade if not to go up maniacally for half-chances like that?

Glove? Not much of an appeal from the Aussies and no review either: #INDvAUS

5.28am BST

12th over: India 42-0 (Vijay 8, Rahul 29) – India require 64 runs to win

With the momentum ebbing away at O’Keefe’s end, the spinner is replaced by paceman Pat Cummins. That might have been the go from the start, to be honest. Immediately he gets a short one fizzing past Murali Vijay’s rib cage and Matthew Wade needs to scramble to his right to avoid any more byes. Singles come easily enough from there, and Vijay also unfurls a pretty cover drive for no run.

KL Rahul hasn’t got a big score in the series, but has looked India’s best batsman. No longer all or nothing.

5.21am BST

11th over: India 40-0 (Vijay 7, Rahul 29) – India require 66 runs to win

Mmmmm it’s crack time. Josh Hazlewood hits one now to send a horror delivery thumping into Lokesh Rahul’s thigh pad. Then the Australian paceman squares his man up beautifully with one that goes on straight. Rahul is neither forward nor back, but will have a couple of nasty bruises as a result of this spell. Hazlewood also sends a snorter of a short ball rearing up past the outside edge and shaping away towards first slip. Rahul does well just to survive this over. There is one game happening at this end of the ground and an entirely different one at the other.

5.18am BST

10th over: India 40-0 (Vijay 7, Rahul 29) – India require 66 runs to win

Steve Smith doesn’t have many runs to play with but he’s prepared to give O’Keefe at least one more over, and Rahul makes the most of it by slashing a square drive to the boundary off the first delivery. The only helmeted player in danger here is Peter Handscomb at silly point, though not when Rahul forcefully sweeps another boundary through square leg. He might finish this off by drinks. His analysis this series: 64, 10, 90, 51, 67, 60, 29*

5.14am BST

9th over: India 31-0 (Vijay 7, Rahul 20) – India require 75 runs to win

It’s no real fault of O’Keefe’s (I’m not even sure why he’s bowling) but you feel Hazlewood is the man here. He’s getting the ball to swing in late and appreciably to the right handers, so attacks their stumps constantly. When he drops short Rahul plays a risky late cut and bisects the men at gully and third slip perfectly to pick up another boundary. A pained Hazlewood throws his head back in frustration, and he’s even more shirty when Rahul bunts a quick single to cover from the next delivery. Ravi Shastri is positing the theory that Matt Renshaw “dropped” the Border-Gavaskar trophy, then has the temerity to wish him happy birthday. With friends like these…

5.09am BST

8th over: India 26-0 (Vijay 7, Rahul 15) – India require 80 runs to win

Somewhat surprisingly it’s Steve O’Keefe pairing with the paceman from the pavilion end, and Rahul gets going by turning his first delivery to leg for a single. Vijay does similar, stroking an attractive drive to the man at long off. With Rahul on strike O’Keefe has a slip and a silly point, and also some sharp turn; so sharp he beats both Rahul’s edge and the gloves of a badly-positioned Matthew Wade to concede four byes. That was horrible keeping work by Wade. It’s only the second over of the day and he’s already hopping around to his left with his leg in the air, completely off balance. Don Tallon would turn in his grave.

5.05am BST

7th over: India 19-0 (Vijay 6, Rahul 13) – India require 87 runs to win

Josh Hazlewood gets us started on what will be denouement of this compelling series. His first ball is arrowed down the leg side, but Vijay misses the chance to flick it down towards the fence at fine leg. The Australian has changed ends from where he was bowling last night, and hopefully for his sake it’ll bring him the same sort of luck he had there in the first innings. He has two very enthusiastic LBW shouts when he has the ball tailing in to Vijay. Marais Erasmus turns both down, apparently believing they’ve hit the batsman’s pad outside the line, and that the second featured an inside edge. Very sloppy from the Indian opener, and perhaps a bit lucky. A promising start from Hazlewood.

4.52am BST

The pitch

“I think the first half an hour is going to be crucial,” says Sunil Gavaskar, hardly causing an earthquake with his initial take. Of more interest is the pitch. There is still a fair bit of grass coverage, and decent sized cracks just short of a length. That is where Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will be focusing their energies, and hopefully landing the ball.

4.49am BST

A bit on Glenn Maxwell’s reemergence as a Test cricketer

“While he was at the crease we looked like we could build some kind of lead,” Allan Border says. Should he stay at No6 for Australia? “He’s showed enough that he should be,” says Brad Haddin. “He can move the game forward so quick. I think he needs to be given an extended run like we did with David Warner.”

4.42am BST

A Sheffield Shield final update while we have time…

South Australia are in all sorts of trouble in Alice Springs. In reply to Victoria’s first innings score of 487 they’re 132-6 with Joe Mennie and keeper Alex Carey at the crease. Jon Holland has been the chief destroyer for the Bushrangers. He has 4-39 from 13.1 overs having dismissed South Australian batting stars Callum Ferguson, Travis Head and Jake Lehmann. James Pattinson has 2-28 from 13 overs to do the rest of the damage. The Vics only needed a draw to win their third Shield on the trot, but they’re on track for an outright win at this rate.

4.21am BST


Hello all and welcome to day four of the fourth Test in Dharamsala, where Australia are staring down the barrel of a Border-Gavaskar Trophy series loss. The task ahead for India: 87 runs to tick off with all 10 wickets in hand. Perhaps a few early scalps to Pat Cummins or Josh Hazlewood could throw the Kohli among the seagulls, but you doubt it. Since 1969 Australia have won just the single Test series in India, back in 2004. If they repeat the feat today it’ll be a minor miracle.

1.34am BST

Russell will be here soon. Here’s yesterday’s match report:

Related: India close to Border-Gavaskar Trophy victory after Australia collapse

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Mar 27

India move closer to Border-Gavaskar Trophy victory – as it happened

  • India 19-0 at stumps on day four, requiring 87 more runs to win
  • Home side on brink of Border-Gavaskar Trophy win in Dharamsala

12.45pm BST

One final thing: here is the report from a dramatic day in Dharamsala.

Related: India close to Border-Gavaskar Trophy victory after Australia collapse

12.28pm BST

One of the great Test series of modern times will end tomorrow, mostly likely with an Indian victory. The home side took a stranglehold on this match by dismissing Australia for just 137 in their second innings, leaving them just 106 for victory. They cruised to 19-0 at stumps.

The damage was done in the afternoon and evening sessions by an accomplished team bowling performance. Umesh Yadav, R. Ashwin, and Ravindra Jadeja each took three wickets at dreamy economy rates to deny Australia any momentum.

12.19pm BST

6th over: India 19-0 (Rahul 13, Vijay 6) – Target 106

First change of bowling and it’s O’Keefe with the final over of the day. Blimey! His first delivery explodes out of the surface, belching dust and ripping past Rahul’s outside edge. The rest of the over is more predictable enabling Rahul to see out play from the crease with a straight blade.

12.16pm BST

5th over: India 19-0 (Rahul 13, Vijay 6) – Target 106

Better rhythm and pace from Cummins first up and he almost kisses Viyay’s outside edge as a result. The rest of the over isn’t too threatening until the final delivery thuds into Vijay’s front pad. An optimistic REVIEW follows and DRS confirms the ball was bouncing well over leg stump. Steve Smith is unhappy about something, not quite sure what, but umpire Erasmus is doing his best to mollify him.

12.10pm BST

4th over: India 19-0 (Rahul 13, Vijay 6) – Target 106

India’s openers are up for this challenge, defending with purpose and running with intent; Vijay’s scampered three an excellent example.

12.05pm BST

3rd over: India 16-0 (Rahul 13, Vijay 3) – Target 106

Cummins seems caught between bowling for away swing and the outside edge and attacking Rahul’s body, the outcome of which is neither nowt nor summat, as Yorkshire-folk would say. Everything looks a touch mechanical and out of sync compared to the rhythmical spells we’ve become accustomed to.

Overwhelmed, thank you to everyone for the kind words.

12.00pm BST

2nd over: India 14-0 (Rahul 12, Vijay 2) – Target 106

Vijay is off the mark early as well, driving Hazlewood behind point for two.

11.56am BST

1st over: India 12-0 (Rahul 12, Vijay 0) – Target 106

India are off to a flyer! Three boundaries of varying quality from KL Rahul against the bowling of Cummins: an edge along the ground through gully, a glorious straight drive and a wristy flick, all earn four runs to power India off the start line.

11.51am BST

11.48am BST

Some correspondence during the innings break.

Vijay BG emails in a helpful guide for Tamil naming conventions. “As per Tamil naming tradition, the first name is the father’s name and the last name is your name. While Rest of India uses surnames, Tamilians don’t. Instead, we prefix our names with the first letter of the father’s name: eg. M Vijay and R Ashwin.”

@JPHowcroft if a test match elsewhere in the world was almost over inside 3 days, the curator would have some serious questions to answer..

11.45am BST

Phew! That last half hour or so was hard to keep track of.

India will have six overs to bat tonight in their pursuit of 106.

11.42am BST

Ashwin beats the inside edge of Hazlewood’s defensive push, hits the front pad in front of middle and umpire Gould raises the finger. A tactical DRS confirms ball tracking as umpire’s call.

After a chaotic final over, Australia are all out for 137, setting India 106 runs to win.

11.40am BST

54th over: Australia 137-9 (Wade 25, Hazlewood 0)

Ashwin coming from around the wicket to Hazlewood and the third delivery is edged solidly to second slip who takes a sharp low catch. But, hang on, despite everyone jogging off the pitch, the umpires are stopping everyone. The TV umpire has overruled the soft on-field dismissal of out – with scant evidence in my opinion – and play continues.

11.35am BST

53rd over: Australia 137-9 (Wade 25, Hazlewood 0)

What’s happened here? Wade has edged a sitter to first slip but Ashwin’s there, for some reason and he shells it like a novice. Poor cricket from India. Australia should be all out for a lead under 100 but Wade survives and punishes Rahane’s captaincy with a cut four and then a pulled two.

11.30am BST

52nd over: Australia 131-9 (Wade 19, Hazlewood 0)

Ashwin returns with two left-handers at the crease. Wade realises it’s now or never and tries to smash every delivery. He picks up six over extra cover, two through midwicket, and accepts a single from the fifth ball. Hazlewood defends his solitary delivery.

11.28am BST

51st over: Australia 122-9 (Wade 10, Hazlewood 0)

Yadav’s return to the attack has been the catalyst for this latest collapse. Excellent wholehearted fast bowler.

@JPHowcroft what has been a wonderfully compelling series looks in danger of finishing in slightly disappointing manner.

11.24am BST

Wade takes the single off the first delivery of Yadav’s over. The second ball whistles past the top of Lyon’s off stump. The third is edged to second slip. Hook, line and sinker.

11.21am BST

50th over: Australia 121-8 (Wade 9, Lyon 0)

Terrific bowling from Jadeja, he picks up his third – and 25th of the series – and Australia are staring at something ugly. They lead by just 89.

11.19am BST

One brings two. O’Keefe can’t get to the pitch of the ball and his push to a textbook Jadeja delivery flies straight to silly point. Sharp catch by Pujara. India rampant.

11.17am BST

49th over: Australia 121-7 (Wade 9, O’Keefe 0)

Wade, now nine from 78 deliveries, sees off a maiden from Yadav.

11.13am BST

48th over: Australia 121-7 (Wade 9, O’Keefe 0)

Cummins dug in but for all his application the scoreboard failed to move much while he was at the crease.

11.11am BST

Jadeja continues and Cummins finally mistimes a drive, edging a regulation catch to Rahane at slip.

11.08am BST

47th over: Australia 120-6 (Wade 8, Cummins 12)

Umesh Yadav to mix things up after drinks. He begins beautifully, nipping one through Cummins and just over middle stump. The batsman survives though with the bowler failing to force Australia’s number 8 to play often enough.

Rahane’s catch … #INDvAUS

11.03am BST

Gervase Greene has his right of reply during drinks. “Apologies all. If Ian Forth (OBO-34) is right, and my quoting of Churchill disenfranchised the original brilliant dictioner who said it, I regret. Fair call, oops and all that. Great that a Maxwell quote indirectly referenced his equally oddball but brilliant literary equivalent, Dr J.”

11.02am BST

11.00am BST

46th over: Australia 120-6 (Wade 8, Cummins 12)

That’s more like it. Wade sees out a maiden off Jadeja. The Indian bowler things every delivery is a chance. None are. The stifled cries and not-so-stifled appeals really seem to bear no reflection to the action. It must be irritating to bat against. Especially when you look up to see how great his hair is too.

10.58am BST

45th over: Australia 120-6 (Wade 8, Cummins 12)

BOUNDARY! A legit one too! Smoothly driven from Cummins through extra cover to a loopy one from Ashwin. Roll out the bunting and strike up the band.

10.55am BST

44th over: Australia 115-6 (Wade 7, Cummins 8)

Another maiden, but a couple of oohs and ahhs this over as Jadeja first beats Cummins’ outside edge and then finds it, but only enough to see it reach a diving slip on the bounce.

10.52am BST

43rd over: Australia 115-6 (Wade 7, Cummins 8)

Ashwin thinks he has Wade LBW after beating the bat from around the wicket but the batsman had got far enough across to present doubt in umpire Erasmus’ mind that he was struck outside the line.

10.50am BST

42nd over: Australia 115-6 (Wade 7, Cummins 8)

Cummins is playing like a man leaning over a pond transfixed by his own reflection, only to be jerked from his impending doom by an invisible bungy cord strapped to his waist. Most of this over he leans, prods a defensive push, and then rebounds back to his full height only to return to the same dance a moment later.

10.47am BST

41st over: Australia 113-6 (Wade 7, Cummins 6)

Cummins nicks another single as the TV camera pans to some spectators in a very maroon-ish shade of purple, bringing about appreciative noises from Queenslander Matthew Hayden. You can take the boy out of Bundaberg etc…

10.44am BST

40th over: Australia 110-6 (Wade 6, Cummins 4)

Cummins inside edges an early single off Jadeja leaving Wade to handle most of the over. A bat-pad catch appeal is turned down as Australia’s keeper continues to stand firm at the crease.

S Marsh’s series average of 18.87 is the third lowest of his career; however his 517 balls faced is the second most of his career. #IndvAus

10.41am BST

39th over: Australia 109-6 (Wade 6, Cummins 3)

Ashwin inviting Cummins to drive outside his off stump for three deliveries before switching around the wicket to test his pads. Australia’s spearhead is up to the task, playing with a straight bat to work a single to long on and keep India at bay.

10.39am BST

38th over: Australia 108-6 (Wade 6, Cummins 2)

Wade getting forward and across to Jadeja, smothering any turn and bounce that might be on offer. The bowler responds with a variety of speeds and trajectories to keep the batsman guessing as much as possible. Wade uses his quick hands to adjust smartly. Another maiden.

10.37am BST

37th over: Australia 108-6 (Wade 6, Cummins 2)

Cummins appears to be losing patience, driving loosely at the first delivery of Ashwin’s over. A thick inside edge for two next delivery calms him down enough to see out the rest of the over without much fanfare.

10.34am BST

36th over: Australia 106-6 (Wade 6, Cummins 0)

Wade’s trying his best to rotate the strike but he can’t nurdle Jadeja wide enough of a fielder to complete the single. The last run was 23 balls ago as another rapid maiden comes and goes in the blink of an eye.

10.33am BST

35th over: Australia 106-6 (Wade 6, Cummins 0)

Ashwin throwing them up to Cummins, waiting for the pitch to do the rest. The surface is not as dangerous to the right hander though and the handy lower order batsman props forward and nudges six regulation deliveries away.

10.30am BST

34th over: Australia 106-6 (Wade 6, Cummins 0)

Jadeja cranks out a maiden to Wade, who, it’s fair to say is receiving his fair share of polite encouragement from the close-in fielders.

10.28am BST

33rd over: Australia 106-6 (Wade 6, Cummins 0)

Australia’s lead just 74 as the first of the bowlers comes out to bat.

The thing I like most about Jadeja, and there is so much to like, is there is no correlation between him appealing and someone being out

10.26am BST

Maxwell has fallen. He’s looked assured all innings but his attempt to pad up to Ashwin has proven his undoing. The ball spun more than he expected, failed to get outside the line enough to convince Ian Gould he deserved the benefit of the doubt for not playing a shot and the finger goes up. He reviews but DRS reveals ‘umpire’s call’ orange on impact and ball tracking. A timid end to a positive innings.

10.23am BST

32nd over: Australia 104-5 (Maxwell 43, Wade 6)

Wade looks much happier against Jadeja, moving his feet freely, surer of the bounce. Until the final delivery of the over that is that pins him on his crease and has the bowler celebrappealing like a Zoolander extra l in a wraparound shades commercial. Erasmus keeps his finger down. Saved – just – by being on the umpire’s call of the line of off stump.

10.19am BST

31st over: Australia 103-5 (Maxwell 42, Wade 6)

Ashwin to Wade is a contest that strongly favours the bowler at the moment. The batsman is surviving like a mole popping its head above the whacking line with his eyes screwed tightly shut and his shoulders hunched.

10.17am BST

30th over: Australia 99-5 (Maxwell 42, Wade 2)

Maxwell sweeps Jadeja for four. Jadeja bowling around the wicket, Maxwell batting in a baggy green with the proud jaw and sunken cheekbones of a matinee idol.

10.13am BST

29th over: Australia 95-5 (Maxwell 38, Wade 2)

Ashwin coming around the wicket to Wade and he’s found his crack, just outside the left-hander’s off stump on a decent length. He hits it early and rips one past the edge, and from thereon it’s a lottery for the batsman. Some jag, others don’t, somehow Wade escapes.

10.11am BST

28th over: Australia 95-5 (Maxwell 38, Wade 2)

It seems like Umpire’s Call decisions annoy a lot of people, I’m not one of them. DRS was introduced to address the howler. There has to be a legitimate margin for error to retain the on-field umpire’s authority. If teams try to game the system and fail, so be it, it’s their choice to review.

10.08am BST

27th over: Australia 93-5 (Maxwell 37, Wade 1)

REVIEW to the first delivery of Ashwin’s over to Wade. From around the wicket the one that Ashwin flicks from his fingers beats Wade’s inside edge, crashes into the flap of his pad and India appeal. Umpire Erasmus is unmoved but Rahane reviews. Height will be the decisive factor – and DRS indicates Umpire’s Call – Wade survives.

10.03am BST

26th over: Australia 93-5 (Maxwell 37, Wade 1)

So, the series-defining session begins with Jadeja completing the over interrupted by the Tea interval following Shaun Marsh’s dismissal. Matthew Wade negotiates it smartly and gets off the mark with a single.

Yo, 2001, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but 2017 was one of the best series of all time. Of all time.

The first 4 eras of Aus cricket history:
1. The Golden Age
2. The Bradman era
3. The Border years
4. The Marsh experiment

9.54am BST

Just a reminder, Australia lead by 60 with five wickets remaining.

9.53am BST

Gervase Greene has emailed in some sage words.

“Can I just say (and I paraphrase Churchill with my nose pinched) that he who is tired of Maxwell is tired of cricket. I have a UK mate who plays bight-grade cricket who says everyone – yes, everyone – considers him the batting equivalent of Shane Warne. A slight overstatement, sure, but in fair weather or foul he is utterly compulsive, compulsory viewing.”

9.50am BST

So more poetry to accompany your tea drinking. This one from Phil Withall:

“I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the works of William McGonagall, the famed Scottish poet . His is often cited as the worst poet ever to have graced the art. I’ll hold my hand up and challenge him.”

The Lyon of Young, a goat in disguise, uses his guile to mesmerise.

With ball in his hand and pride in his heart.

9.49am BST

Thank you very much Russell.

This modern classic of a series continues to deliver. Like Hagler v Hearns both teams keep throwing punches only to wear a smack or two in return for their troubles.

9.45am BST

And that is the session. It started badly for Australia with the early dismissal of David Warner and got worse as the Indian bowlers dominated for all bar a half-century partnership between Peter Handscomb and Glenn Maxwell. Umesh Yadav (two wickets) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (the vital wicket of Steve Smith) did the damage early and now it’s the spinners coming into the fold. Australia lead by 60 and will hope to push that past 100 at the very least, but their chances of setting India an imposing chase are reducing by the minute. Taking you through the rest of it will be JP Howcroft, the lucky bleeder.

9.43am BST

Australia in disarray now! Shaun MArsh has been off the field all day with a bad back and now he’s out on the stroke of tea. He attempted to turn a rising off break around the corner but gloves it straight to the man at short leg. Umpires call tea and Glenn Maxwell looks miffed. He’s fast running out of partners.

9.41am BST

25th over: Australia 92-4 (Maxwell 37, Marsh 1)

The word out of the Australian sheds is that Shaun Marsh has a “jarred back”, and is far from his physical best, but he’s out there in the middle with a Test match on the line, and could make himself a hero for his country. Ashwin has three slips for the new man. I think he fancies a wicket here. Of note from earlier in the over: Pujara copped a nasty one in the shoulder while fielding at short leg when Maxwell swept powerfully. Much has been made of the spite in this series but the Australian was straight over to check on his opponent. Good stuff.

9.38am BST

Ashwin strikes! That is a gem of a delivery from the spinner, who gets one to jump up out of the rough and the outside edge from Handscomb is very well held by the Indian captain at first slip.

9.35am BST

24th over: Australia 86-3 (Handscomb 18, Maxwell 36)

More runs from the bowling of Jadeja, who doesn’t look any great threat until he keeps one lower than the bottom of Handscomb’s bat and almost castles him. The rest of Australia’s batsmen will be watching that with mild concern, but Nathan Lyon will have at least half a grin.

9.32am BST

23rd over: Australia 83-3 (Handscomb 18, Maxwell 33)

Rahane concurs with my ramblings, it appears, because Ravichandran Ashwin is on for his first spell of the innings. He’s got a slip and a short leg for Maxwell, so the latter skips down the track and looks to play to the off side, where he is relatively safe. It’s a promising over from Aswhin, featuring bounce, turn, and a few big puffs of dust.

9.28am BST

22nd over: Australia 82-3 (Handscomb 18, Maxwell 32)

With tea approaching, perhaps it is time for Ajinkya Rahane to give Ravichandran Ashwin a bowl. The Maxwell-Handscomb partnership is worth 51 from 76 deliveries once Handscomb essays a gorgeous cover drive to the fence off Kuldeep, and India’s captain would have to be concerned about this stand inflating further at its present rate.

9.25am BST

21st over: Australia 77-3 (Handscomb 14, Maxwell 31)

With half an hour to go in the second session, both Australian batsmen have now found their feet, but Ravindra Jadeja is extracting some sharp turn outside the off stump. Good for Australia: he’s actually spinning it too much to take a wicket unless Glenn Maxwell does something really funky. Four singles from the Jadeja over. You rarely see him milked like that.

9.22am BST

20th over: Australia 73-3 (Handscomb 12, Maxwell 29)

Two runs from the Kuldeep over, but more pertinently, an insight into the divine intervention that played a role in Steve Smith’s dismissal earlier:

Matty Hayden: “I’m a strong believer at the moment India has no idea how to get Steve Smith out”
Next bloody ball…

9.20am BST

19th over: Australia 71-3 (Handscomb 11, Maxwell 28)

As well as being a potent wicket-taking option, Ravindra Jadeja also sprints through his overs and rarely costs much in the way of scoreboard damage. In that light, Peter Handscomb gets lucky here when he loses control of an attempt to cut and the ball balloons away through the vacant gully region for four. Jadeja’s final delivery is even better: it goes the other way to pass between bat and pad, then sails a few inches over the top of the stumps. Too good. Australia lead by 39. Any target over 175 will be challenging, I reckon.

9.16am BST

18th over: Australia 67-3 (Handscomb 7, Maxwell 28)

Maxwell actually looks vulnerable to Kuldeep’s bosey, but in between times he continues to dominate the spinner. This over it’s another back foot stroke in the form of a cut, which Maxwell uses to expertly bypass point and pick himself up another boundary. Maxwell gets a little lucky from the penultimate delivery of the over, which is a straighter one he nearly pulls into the hands of Jadeja at a shortish mid-on. Another half a foot of carry and the Indian fielder would have snaffled that.

9.13am BST

17th over: Australia 63-3 (Handscomb 7, Maxwell 24)

Jadeja has a slip and a silly point for Handscomb but the Australian defends with utmost confidence, so there is not even a thought of bringing anyone else in close to the bat. Well, at least until the final delivery of the over, which bobs up off the shoulder of the bat and flies wide of the silly point. That is encouraging for Jadeja.

9.10am BST

16th over: Australia 63-3 (Handscomb 7, Maxwell 24)

Glenn Maxwell is going mad now. He drives Kuldeep for a boundary through cover and then, with his baggy green nestled jauntily, plants his front foot and hammers a towering six over long on. Welcome to Test cricket, Kuldeep. Earlier today I appealed for terrible poetry about Nathan Lyon and reader Adrian Holmes has delivered:

9.06am BST

15th over: Australia 52-3 (Handscomb 6, Maxwell 14)

Spin from both ends now as Ravindra Jadeja appears for his first overs of the innings. Peter Handscomb leaves one that is angling in towards his off stump, which seems unnecessarily risky, but we should probably trust his methods given the way he batted in the second innings in Ranchi. He drives a single from the final delivery to retain the strike.

9.03am BST

14th over: Australia 51-3 (Handscomb 5, Maxwell 14)

Kuldeep is on for a bowl now with his left-arm leg spin. He did Maxwell in with a gem of a wrongun in the first innings, so expect the Australian to be a little more circumspect this time around. An hour from tea Australia lead by 19 runs and the game hangs in the balance.

9.00am BST

13th over: Australia 50-3 (Handscomb 4, Maxwell 14)

Hooley dooley! Glenn Maxwell has just played one of the crispest, most ridiculous back foot drives you will ever see, especially given the stakes. Kumar is the bowler and he’s a little short on a fourth stump line. Maxwell is back and across quickly and lifts his left elbow high before running his bat through a textbook stroke for four. Two balls late he repeats the feat, though this time squarer through point. It might be time for a rest for Kumar, but both Maxwell strokes are just sublime. Perhaps now the doubters are starting to realise what the Australian is capable of; in this over his defence is equally convincing.

8.54am BST

12th over: Australia 42-3 (Handscomb 4, Maxwell 6)

After a brief break for drinks, Glenn Maxwell resumes with patient application before getting a lose one outside off stump from Umesh Yadav. The Victorian shuffles half a step towards the pitch of the ball and unfurls a confident drive to have it humming away past the rope at deep cover, then works an awkward one away from his ribs for a single to short mid-wicket. The drinks break will have helped him, but Umesh might be spent. He’s bowled a mighty spell so far, one that could prove match-turning.

8.47am BST

11th over: Australia 37-3 (Handscomb 4, Maxwell 1)

Maxwell gets off the mark by flicking Kumar to deep mid-wicket for a single. “By my count this is the third time in a row Renshaw has been dismissed after being pegged back the previous few balls and then staying back too much,” writes Kabir Sethi. Not a bad call. It’s quite easy from the sofa, mind you. Speaking of easy, Peter Handscomb has just played a wonderful late cut off Kumar to pick up four. That can’t be as simple as he makes it look.

8.42am BST

10th over: Australia 32-3 (Handscomb 0, Maxwell 0)

What a situation Glenn Maxwell confronts here: his team in dire straits, Umesh Yadav running rampant and the first delivery he faces cannoning into his shoulder as he tries to keep his bat away from it. “Test match cricket at its best,” says Sunil Gavaskar. It’s a cliche but it’s also true. Scores are now level but Australia have only seven wickets in hand. Not ideal.

8.38am BST

Now Renshaw goes! Good news: my TV is now working. Bad news: Australia are collapsing to a remarkable degree. Now it’s Matt Renshaw who goes, poking around at Umesh and sending another edge through to Wriddhiman Saha. A ball earlier he’d been roughed up with another bouncer, now he’s on his way. Oh dear.

8.34am BST

9th over: Australia 31-2 (Renshaw 8, Handscomb 0)

Now Australia have two first-time tourists at the crease in Matt Renshaw and the new man Peter Handscomb. With a big partnership they could make lifelong heroes of themselves, but their work is cut out for them. Right now Australia are staring down the barrel of a 7-10 wicket defeat, don’t you think?

8.32am BST

Steve Smith departs! That is disastrous for Australia! He’d just hit Kumar for consecutive boundaries but now he’s gone – bowled for 17! Australia still trail by one run and their batting ace is gone. It was a shortish ball outside the line of off stump and Smith shaped to pull it, but in playing that stroke he drags an inside edge onto his timber and loses his off stump. He cannot believe it but one of the least threatening deliveries of a hostile opening bowling partnership has got him.

8.29am BST

8th over: Australia 23-1 (Renshaw 8, Smith 9)

Never before have I been so aware of the fragile miracle that is satellite sports coverage. I still can’t see anything, but trust that what is happening is good. Please Mr Mudoch, please give me my ball back sir. Maybe we can reverse the normal process, and I’ll have the readers describe the game to me. Here’s Rowan Sweeney: “Enjoying the OBO and some Indonesian Cuisine, but David “Bats in the Wrong Kind of Bubble” Warner drives me crazy. Does anyone bother coaching him? I want whoever came up with the “Play your natural game” rubbish flogged!” I want the CEO of Foxtel flogged, personally.

8.24am BST

7th over: Australia 18-1 (Renshaw 4, Smith 8)

I won’t lie, this isn’t an ideal time for the Australian broadcast of this game to cut out, but that is exactly the fate I’ve suffered in this over, so please bear with me. A good point from reader Scott Lowe as Kumar apparently produces a maiden over: “So why exactly did Warner play all four Tests, despite being useless outside Australia, and Khawaja did not play one?”

8.19am BST

6th over: Australia 18-1 (Renshaw 4, Smith 8)

I don’t want to overstate it until the threat has genuinely passed, but already there is a sense of calm in Australia’s innings due to the presence of Steve Smith. Also, no doubt, Umesh isn’t quite producing the barnstorming deliveries that had Warner hopping around. Smith tucks him around the corner for two, and there is something worth mentioning at this point: no Australian can complain about this pitch. It’s carrying like a mid-80s WACA strip.

8.16am BST

5th over: Australia 16-1 (Renshaw 4, Smith 6)

Kumar has three slips and a gully for Steve Smith, and India know they need to get the Australian skipper early. If not he’ll settle in for the rest of the day. Kumar is hanging them a good foot and a half outside off stump, which has been among India’s many unsuccessful strategies to Smith in this series. A fourth stump line, maybe, but not a sixth. Smith eventually gets one on his pads and turns it for a single with ease. Not much else about Australia’s start has been so straightforward.

8.11am BST

4th over: Australia 15-1 (Renshaw 4, Smith 5)

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Steve Smith is a living legend at the moment, and only he would take the manic energy of this game and calmly turn his first delivery through backward square leg for a boundary. First ball. Incredible. I mean, it wasn’t Umesh’s best (on the pads, in Smith’s zone), but you still have to possess the wherewithal to put it away so ruthlessly without so much as a sighter. The last delivery of Umesh’s over crunches Renshaw on the shoulder as he loses track of it and ducks. Is anyone else a bit flushed and warm? I feel like it’s about 45 degrees and I’m sitting on a sofa 10,533km away from Dharamsala.

8.06am BST

Umesh gets Warner! It’s not the paceman’s best delivery, but Warner is perhaps a little spooked by what’s going on and pushes hard towards a ball decking away from him, feathering an edge through to Saha. Review? Not in your life. Warner knows he’s gone, and drops his head as begins the slow march back to the pavilion. India’s pacemen are on fire.

8.04am BST

3rd over: Australia 10-0 (Renshaw 4, Warner 6)

Get near a TV. This is spellbinding stuff. Did I say Umesh bowled the best bouncer of the series? Kumar has just topped it, fizzling down a nasty one to hit a startled Warner in the left shoulder. Ouch. That would have been painful. The Aussie didn’t have a clue, and the threat doesn’t pass. A ball later Warner edges thickly and Karun Nair dives to his left, dropping a very gettable chance at third slip but doing so in a way that almost brings Rahane into play at gully. The latter also dives to get the rebound, but can’t quite grasp it. How badly will that cost India? Sheesh. Warner gets a single in the process. This is brilliant cricket. Gripping.

7.58am BST

2nd over: Australia 9-0 (Renshaw 4, Warner 5)

Holy moly. If you were wondering what David Warn’er approach would be, he’s just slashed Umesh Yadav’s first delivery of the innings for a Sehwagesque boundary over gully. A metre or so more and it would have been six. Ridiculous. Warner follows that with a single, which seems smart. No need to drown in honey at this point. Umesh sends a snorter past the outside edge of Renshaw – a ball too good to get anybody out. The ball is carrying through to Wriddhiman Saha with such bounce and pace that his keeping technique is closer to the Matrix than the MCC coaching manual. Umesh bowls probably the best bouncer of the series, whistling the ball so narrowly past the coat of arms on Renshaw’s helmet you suspect the Emu might have suffered a heart attack. Great over.

7.53am BST

1st over: Australia 4-0 (Renshaw 4, Warner 0)

OK, we’re off in Australia’s second innings and it’s Matt Renshaw facing the first delivery of Australia’s second innings. Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowls it with three slips and a gully in place and Renshaw confidently defends it towards gully from high on his bat. Thereafter Kumar is getting nice carry and Renshaw gets lucky when he’s squared up, but with soft hands manages to angle the ball between third slip and gully to pick up four.

7.47am BST

We’re moments away from Australia’s second innings now

…with David Warner and Matt Renshaw about to trot out to the middle. In the meantime, James Pattinson is having a fair old day in Alice Springs. He’s just claimed the early breakthrough for the Bushrangers and South Australia are off to a disastrous start.

Woah! In the #ShieldFinal, Pattinson has sent Dalton’s off-stump flying. SA 1-0!


7.38am BST

Score update from the Sheffield Shield final

Victoria have been bowled out for 487 and need only a draw to claim the Shield. In addition to Travis Dean’s 94, the 120 Marcus Harris made on day one and Rob Quiney’s 48, James Pattinson stepped up with 80 and keeper Seb Gotch 52 in a very patient partnership. Victoria lost 4-3 to finish off, and Chadd Sayers took 7-84 from 34.2 overs, taking his season tally to 61. He’s a marvel.

Caught Carey, bowled Sayers and that’s it!

No. 7️⃣ for Chadd and Vic all out for 487. Great finish boys. #ShieldFinal

7.22am BST

What will we get from David Warner when Australia resume?

“Now it’s up to Davey Warne to knock off that lead and go from there,” says his former team-mate Brad Haddin, but how far beyond knocking off those 32 runs Warner goes is the real question. The Australian opener played his best knock of the series with 56 in the first innings. Yes, that is damning him with faint praise, I know. Will it be a cavalier 18 here, or will he knuckle down and prove all the doubters wrong? His record in India is poor but a game-winning innings here would wipe the slate clean.

Once again @NathLyon421 picks up 5 wickets for . Another 5 in the 2nd innings please Gary.

7.11am BST

We’ll take a break now, but it was another absorbing session of cricket. Ravindra Jadeja threatened to take the game out of Australia’s grasp, but his dismissal for 63 sparked a collapse of 4-15 as India’s tail stopped wagging. Wriddhiman Saha made a patient 31 from 102 deliveries but there was nothing much else to write home about. Pat Cummins finished with 3-94 from 30 overs of high quality fast bowling, while Nathan Lyon bagged 5-92 from 34.1 overs and deserved nothing less. More in a bit.

7.09am BST

Lyon gets the final wicket! And that is yet another five-for for him. Kuldeep goes for a slog sweep but holes out to Hazlewood in the deep, meaning that India are all out for 332, a 32-run lead on the first innings. Lyon has his ninth five-wicket haul and we’re off for lunch after all.

7.07am BST

118th over: India 332-9 (Kuldeep 7, Umesh 2)

Kuldeep looks genuinely good, in actual fact. Maybe he can do some damage in this little pre-lunch session, but Umesh will need to stick around for him, which is no certainty. It being Monday, Matthew Wade is straight into the latter, reminding him of his shortcomings as a batsman.

7.05am BST

117th over: India 331-9 (Kuldeep 6, Umesh 2)

Hmm, we’re staying out there then? Umesh had no idea for the better part of what should have been the last over before lunch, shoving his bat in the path of the ball but rarely find luck in the way of making contact. But the umpires decide we’ll wait until the final wicket is taken before going off. We’ll have an extra half-hour.

6.59am BST

116th over: India 329-9 (Kuldeep 5, Umesh 1)

Boomshakala! Kuldeep gets down on one knee to O’Keefe’s first delivery and sweeps confidently to pick up four handy runs. That was a batsman’s shot. Where he’s not so smart is in letting O’Keefe rush him to face up, and with 59 seconds remaining in the session as over is called, we will indeed have another from Cummins. Buckle in.

6.57am BST

115th over: India 325-9 (Kuldeep 1, Umesh 1)

The Yadavs are both at the crease now, so I’ll go with Kuldeep and Umesh if that’s OK. The latter faces the music first up and works a single off his hip, trotting down the other end very slowly to ensure he’s off strike to the fire-breathing paceman. It’s been yet another superb spell of hostile fast bowling from Cummins. Now he even beats Matthew Wade when he whangs down a quite ridiculous bouncer to concede four wides. Personally I like it, but in a tight match his captain mightn’t. Cummins has 3-92 from 29 overs and India lead by 25 runs. With four minutes left before lunch, expect Steve O’Keefe to sprint through his next over and make sure Cummins has the last say.

6.52am BST

Cummins gets another! Oof, that was a brute of a ball too. He hammers in a nasty bouncer and in the act of protecting his face, Saha gloves it skyward and towards the cordon, where Steve Smith moves around to take another catch. This is all a bit chaotic from India. They were bossing the morning 15 minutes ago. Now they might be all out before lunch.

6.50am BST

114th over: India 318-8 (Saha 31, Yadav 0)

Debutant Kuldeep Yadav is the new man at the crease and keeps out the final delivery of the O’Keefe over. India did so well for 85% of this session but it’s falling away badly now.

6.49am BST

Steve O’Keefe strikes in his first over of the day! Well that is a decent strike rate. It’s Kumar who goes, driving lavishly when he should be having a good look. The thick edge flies to the right of Steve Smith at first slip and he dives in the direction well to take a very smart catch. There was an amusing moment a delivery earlier when Matthew Wade greeted O’Keefe’s wares with this assessment: “Nice stock bowling!” He’s even sledging his own team-mates now.

6.44am BST

113th over: India 317-7 (Saha 30, Kumar 0)

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the new batsman at the crease for India and he’s no mug, averaging 22.63 in Tests and boasting a first-class century. He’s got a decent task ahead of him. If he can hang around for an hour with Saha, India could take this game away for Australia. If he nicks off early, who knows? Cummins has a decent head of steam up in this over but Kumar defends stoutly.

6.41am BST

Cummins strikes! And it’s the danger man who goes as Jadeja gets forward with another attacking stroke but chops it onto his stumps to give the paceman a well-earned breakthrough. Finally! Thus ends an enterprising stand of 96 between Jadeja and Saha, who have India 17 runs ahead in the first innings. Game on.

6.38am BST

112th over: India 317-6 (Jadeja 63, Saha 30)

Saha and Jadeja have added 94 runs in this stand as another Maxwell over begins. It’s a tight one, which is about the best Australia can hope for at the moment. As all that is happening, Daniel McDonald has kindly stopped by with some more cricket-themed Oscar nominations, as per below:

6.35am BST

111th over: India 315-6 (Jadeja 62, Saha 29)

Crack! Jadeja gets hit in the helmet now, though it’s not quite as nasty as that sounds. He gets a short one from the returning Pat Cummins and shapes to hook it, but it deflects from his forearm into his helmet grille. Matthew Wade might be available for immediate comment, but he’s too far away from the stump microphone.

6.30am BST

110th over: India 305-6 (Jadeja 52, Saha 29)

Matthew Wade is very unhappy about Jadeja’s half-century celebration, and demands that the batsman explain it to him. All that distracts from another exotic sight: Glenn Maxwell is on for a bowl! Sad times when you have to bury a lede like that. Nothing in the over can quite match the sword. I’m afraid the day might have peaked.

If India win this series Saha or Jadeja is player of series. If Australia win, Smith no contest – still might get it with a loss #INDvAUS

6.27am BST

109th over: India 302-6 (Jadeja 50, Saha 28)

The singles continue to accrue off the bowling of Lyon, and replays of that LBW review are no kinder on the Australians. For one thing, the inside edge sound was very loud. I guess they’re contending with crowd noises too when they’re out in the middle, but it was an absolute doozy. As is a misfield from David Warner in this over, which hands India the lead and gets the home fans up on their feet.

6.22am BST

108th over: India 297-6 (Jadeja 46, Saha 27)

Even the normally miserly Josh Hazlewood is being worked around for singles now. Mahendra Killedar arrives now via email with a question. “So at what point does this partnership officially migrate from ‘irritating’ territory to ‘annoying’ territory for the Aussies?” I reckon we’re about 15 minutes into annoying territroy, Mahendra. Josh Halzewood is bothering to sledge Wriddhiman Saha, so all is not well.

6.17am BST

107th over: India 295-6 (Jadeja 45, Saha 26)

Nathan Lyon was all over the home side yesterday, but the momentum has swung against him now, and Steve Smith might even consider a change soon. Saha works a single to leg and Jadeja does so too. It’s all a bit too easy for the Indian pair. Time for some Steve O’Keefe I reckon. Or another burst of Cummins.

6.14am BST

106th over: India 291-6 (Jadeja 43, Saha 24)

Hazlewood is down to a single slip now because Steve Smith is becoming concerned by the number of easy runs the Australians are bleeding. India could have been seven down with their tail exposed at the start of the day. Now they’re on the verge of passing Australia’s first innings total. Apparently Wade earlier told Gunner Gould to watch out for Jadeja’s sword as he approaches 50. Not exactly Dave Chappelle’s first HBO special, but the internet seems to believe that it was funny.

Again, annoying lower order runs.
Jadeja vu.#INDvAUS

6.09am BST

105th over: India 290-6 (Jadeja 42, Saha 24)

Nathan Lyon has a slip and a silly point as he bowls to Jadeja, but he hasn’t really looked like taking a wicket so far because Jadeja and Saha are really warming to their task. Jadeja moves into the 40s by sweating on some width from Lyon and opening the face glide him to the fence at third man. This is quite a reversal of fortunes for the batsman; he was given out LBW to Pat Cummins from the first delivery of the day, but a review saved his skin and he’s making the most of it.

6.02am BST

104th over: India 285-6 (Jadeja 37, Saha 24)

Australia are getting a little desperate for a wicket now, so the broadcasters cruelly hark back to Matt Renshaw’s dropped catch from late last night. As Matthew Hayden points out, it was as much Matthew Wade’s fault for standing too close and drawing the cordon in with him than the man who actually dropped it. Live, Hazlewood keeps loping in and hammering the ball down into the deck, from which he is extracting decent pace and bounce. The cordon are much deeper than yesterday but so far they haven’t had an edge to deal with.

5.58am BST

103rd over: India 285-6 (Jadeja 37, Saha 24)

Moments before Nathan Lyon works his way in for the first delivery of the over, there is a real verbal skirmish between Australian keeper Matthew Wade and both batsmen, forcing Ian Gould to step in and tell Wade to pipe down. He doesn’t, of course. Only a pair of Josh Hazlewood’s socks would do the job there. Wade is like a drill sergeant taunting new recruits. Amazing what a half-century does for a man’s confidence. Jadeja keeps his concentration well enough to see off the rest of the over.

5.53am BST

102nd over: India 284-6 (Jadeja 37, Saha 23)

Josh Hazlewood is back on to replace Pat Cummins and has another very enthusiastic shout from his first delivery, but the ball pitches well outside leg before rapping Ravindra Jadeja on the front pad. No dice. Soon after Jadeja slaps a late cut to deposit a rare Hazlewood half-tracker to the fence. The frustration continues for Australia a ball later when Hazlewood cuts the batsman in half. How did that miss the stumps?

5.49am BST

101st over: India 280-6 (Jadeja 33, Saha 23)

Peter Handscomb does some very smart work diving to his right to snare a close-in chance, but there is no prolonged appeal from the Australians because it’s flown off the thigh pad without contact from the bat. Handscomb has really added a new dimension to Australia’s fielding in there at short leg. Add in Glenn Maxwell’s ground fielding and throwing and the tourists have lifted from quite dreary and pedestrian in the field to something above adequate. Surprising: this is now the second-highest partnership of the innings.

5.44am BST

100th over: India 279-6 (Jadeja 32, Saha 23)

Wriddhiman Saha has three Test centuries this year and when he glides Cummins down to third man at the start of the over he also passes 1,000 Test runs and brings up the 50-run partnership with Jadeja. Soon after Jadeja gets three with a wristy drive through cover, and suddenly runs are a lot easier to come by for the Indian pair. Saha opens the face to the final delivery and gets a streaky four, though a deliberate one. Steve Smith has a bit of a headache here. This partnership is really blossoming on day three.

5.40am BST

99th over: India 269-6 (Jadeja 29, Saha 16)

“Change of bowler. Right arm over,” says Gunner Gould, signalling the return of Nathan Lyon with some spin. A full toss first up allows Saha to pat a single down to long leg, then Jadeja drives to deep extra cover for the same result. Both of them are comfortable against spin, though Ravi Jadeja’s stats have always told us this isn’t quite so. After a few sighters Jadeja frees his arms and spanks Lyon over long-on for a big six. Bang!

5.35am BST

98th over: India 260-6 (Jadeja 22, Saha 14)

Another LBW shout from Cummins, but Marais Erasmus shakes his head. It wasn’t the worst shout, but Australia have no reviews left. A little peeved, Cummins whistles a brute of a bouncer past Jadeja’s elbow but again the Indian swivels out of the way beautifully. Sunny Gavaskar is so happy with that leave he almost dies from the sheer ecstasy of it all. In among all that frothing, Cummins is putting in a helluva shift of fast bowling. Health permitting, he could be the answer to Australia’s wishes for a Ryan Harris replacement; both strike bowler and master of containment.

5.30am BST

97th over: India 260-6 (Jadeja 22, Saha 14)

Hazlewood goes after Jadeja’s rib cage now but the Indian all-rounder shuffles back and swivels, both judging and executing his leave perfectly to get body and bat out of the path of the ball. He’s even smarter a delivery later when he opens the face of the bat for what looks like a single, but hares back for a well-read second run. Glenn Maxwell is thus forced to throw to the bowler’s end, and there is no chance of a run-out there. Hazlewood has a forlorn LBW shout to end the over, but it was surely sailing well past leg. The ump is having none of it. Leg bye.

5.25am BST

96th over: India 257-6 (Jadeja 20, Saha 14)

Pat Cummins has been very sharp so far this morning. Saha picks up two runs by guiding the paceman through point, but a ball later he’s beaten all ends up and almost feathers an edge behind to Matthew Wade. At the risk of annoying people who don’t like hearing about commentary, I think even they will appreciate this gem from Sanjay Manjrekar: the former Indian batsman takes one look into the distance at the snow-topped cedar forests at the edge of the Himalayas – which provide such a stunning backdrop to cricket matches in Dharamsala – and says: “What a great movie it was, Cliffhanger.”

5.20am BST

95th over: India 255-6 (Jadeja 20, Saha 12)

Hazlewood’s been right on the button, as per usual, but he strays onto Saha’s pads to concede a leg bye with his fourth delivery. Otherwise you can set your watch to his line and length. Or maybe your measuring tape. Anyway, you know what I mean. Jadeja finishes the over by cracking another straight drive but being a little bit closer to mid-on, David Warner is able to scramble across, dive and pull off the stop.

5.15am BST

94th over: India 254-6 (Jadeja 20, Saha 12)

It mightn’t be the last laugh, but Jadeja gets back on track against Cummins when he cracks the paceman straight down the wicket and inches past the stumps at the non-striker’s end to pick up four. “As a pace bowler that is the biggest insult you can be given,” says Sunil Gavaskar, insult expert. I’m not sold on that. He over-pitched and got put away. Nothing more, nothing less. What Jadeja has done in this over is reacquaint himself with the concept of the leave. Not a bad idea.

5.10am BST

93rd over: India 250-6 (Jadeja 16, Saha 12)

Wriddhiman Saha enjoys a far more convincing start than his partner, letting go a sighter from Hazlewood and then confidently driving to deep cover for two runs. Otherwise Hazlewood is digging it in short and forcing Saha to duck and weave, but there is no hint he’ll fend one to the cordon, which is currently two slips and a gully.

5.06am BST

92nd over: India 248-6 (Jadeja 16, Saha 10)

The noise – and there definitely was one – was Jadeja’s bat clipping his pad as he attempted a loose drive. A few balls later Cummins has another throaty shout. LBW is the hope this time, but it pitched well outside the line of leg stump. Still…Jadeja is groping about like a rookie in the early stages. He takes another rusty swing at the fourth delivery, but misses by a mile. The Australian slips cordon coos as one, then Cummins cuts the Indian batsman in half with his next. What an over that was. It wasn’t until the final delivery that Jadeja finally got bat on one.

Jadeja’s version of the leave is easily my favourite. #INDvAUS

5.02am BST

Erasmus has botched this one. Easy mistake to make first up. A lot of air between bat and ball. As you were.

5.01am BST

The Indian has barely had time to wipe the sleep from his eyes and he’s already been given out! He reviews it, but Pat Cummins is very happy with himself.

4.59am BST

We’re a few minutes from play now…and before anybody angrily writes in, yes I understand that Lyon and Ashwin have the same wicket tallies in this series, but I still think Lyon has bowled better. He’s taken his at at seven runs less per wicket than Ashwin, for one thing. Anyway, let’s do this.

4.55am BST

Meanwhile, in New Zealand..

Kane Williamson has levelled the late, great Martin Crowe for Test centuries. But I bet he can’t rock a Reebok headband and wide-brimmed beige hat quite like the latter.

Most Test hundreds for NZ

Martin Crowe – 17
Kane Williamson – 17
Ross Taylor – 16
B McCullum – 12
J Wright – 12#NZvSA

4.46am BST

Che Pujara’s ridiculous form…has stretched to 1,316 runs in 13 Tests this season. They’ve come at an average of 65.8, and taken in four centuries and eight 50s. He’s stopped by now for an interview now and rues the dismissal of KL Rahul late yesterday, which sparked India’s mini collapse. “It was a shame he got out after tea, otherwise things could be different for us,” Pujara says. “Nathan Lyon bowled well yesterday, but we still should have negotiated it…There was one session where we didn’t bat well.” You can say that again.

4.39am BST

The local sights

I’m a hack with a camera, but this gives you a small taste of Dharamshala – the extraordinary town which will decide the series. #AUSvIND

4.37am BST


Hello all and welcome to day three of the fourth Test in Dharamsala, which promises to be a match-turning one. If so, it could prove series-deciding. As you well know, THIS. IS. IT. The decider. “This is a huuuuge day,” says Allan Border on the TV now. He’s said that every day of the series, to be honest, but he hasn’t been wrong by doing so. Each of these four Tests has been played at fever pitch. The pressure has been relentless, each twist and turn a doozy. Australia are now in with a shot of pulling off a remarkable Border-Gavaskar Trophy win. Nobody expected them to get close in this series. I certainly didn’t. I thought it would be a 4-0 sweep for the home side. So stick around, but also…don’t listen to me.

2.59am BST

Russell will be here shortly, giving you just enough time to read how Nathan Lyon spun a web to trap the Indians in Dharamsala yesterday.

Related: Fourth Test: Lyon bags four wickets for Australia as India stagger in reply

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Mar 23

Richmond defeat Carlton by 43 points in AFL season opener – as it happened

  • Richmond defeat Carlton 20.12 (132) to 14.5 (89) at the MCG
  • Dustin Martin best on ground as the Tigers finish strongly

11.09am GMT

And that’s it from me

Thanks for joining us tonight on what turned out a pretty predictable result, but a worthwhile exercise on account of Dustin Martin’s brilliance. G’night.

Nice and loud, Tiger Army #gotiges

11.03am GMT

Self-own of the night

Carlton might be sacking their banner-writer at some point this week.

#AFLBluesTigers @mcg @CarltonFC #banner @heraldsunsport @superfooty ⭐️

10.59am GMT

Full-time Richmond 20.12 (132) defeat Carlton 14.5 (89)

And that is the season-opener done. Carlton’s kids were gallant for much of this match, put they lacked the class, experience and powers of execution tonight, and faced a formidable opponent in the one-man show that is Dustin Martin. The Tigers midfielder was like Teenwolf tonight. The takeaway from tonight: get on him for the Brownlow.

10.54am GMT

Tigers goal! 4th quarter (3:18 remaining) Richmond 20.12 (132) vs Carlton 14.5 (89)

Grigg goals now for Richmond, but only because Martin handballed him a gimme. He should have six goals, Martin, but he’s bringing his team-mates into the game. “As good as it gets,” says Matthew Richardson. Martin is putting on a clinic.

10.53am GMT

Tigers goal! 4th quarter (4:04 remaining) Richmond 19.12 (126) vs Carlton 14.5 (89)

Only a smart intercept and handball from Jack Grimes stopped Marc Murphy slamming through yet another consolation goal for the Blues, but Carlton are basically controlling play in junk time. Wayne Carey says Tigers fans will be please with this performance but I’m sure they’ll also be a bit miffed by the prolonged periods in which their side has gone missing. Finally they get a goal here and guess who? Martin sharks a tap out 30 metres from goal, swivels around with a player hanging off his jumper and snaps truly. He’s a man among boys tonight.

10.48am GMT

Blues goal! 4th quarter (6:58 remaining) Richmond 18.12 (120) vs Carlton 14.5 (89)

Another consolation goal for Carlton as Matthew Wright cops one high in the goal square and puts away the simple chance, though not before an all-in fracas. It’s just pushing and shoving, mainly, and Martin is in the thick of the action. Of concern to Richmond: they’ve conceded 14 goals to the Blues. That ain’t a positive.

10.44am GMT

Blues goal! 4th quarter (8:54 remaining) Richmond 18.12 (120) vs Carlton 13.5 (83)

Carlton have ground to a halt in the final term but Jack Silvagni refuses to quit, and takes a strong mark 40 metres from goal and converts his chance. A few more performers of his tenacity and Carlton could have caused an upset tonight. We have a crowd figure now: 73,137. Pretty good going for two teams who’ll struggle more often than not.

10.41am GMT

Tigers goal! 4th quarter (10:47 remaining) Richmond 18.12 (120) vs Carlton 12.5 (77)

I won’t lie, with a 38-point buffer after that last goal it’s pretty much become a case of ‘wait until Dusty does something brilliant’. You know how LeBron James shrinks a basketball court, and Chris Lynn makes cricket grounds look too small? That is Dustin Martin right now; everything else in the game is secondary to his barnstorming brilliance. If he doesn’t get three Brownlow votes for this they should hold a Royal Commission. The game has degenerated a bit here, but Toby Nankervis has just taken a big pack mark in the goal square and slotted his second goal in what has been a promising first league performance for the Tigers.

10.34am GMT

Tigers goal! 4th quarter (15:51 remaining) Richmond 17.12 (114) vs Carlton 12.4 (76)

I can’t stress enough how many levels above every other player on the ground Dustin Martin has been tonight. It’s like there is a rogue older brother playing in an Under-12s game; he’s got stubble and a visible tattoo, every parent present knows it, but nobody wants to start a fight this early in the season. Meanwhile, Jack Silvagni has almost taken a big hanger, and the game flits from end to end in not particularly pretty style. Soon after Josh Caddy kicks one off the ground and goals from 15 metres out, but the accompanying cheers were for Martin, who barrelled the ball from just outside Carlton’s offensive 50 to well inside Richmond’s. He’s a remarkable footballer.

10.29am GMT

Tigers goal! 4th quarter (18:49 remaining) Richmond 16.12 (108) vs Carlton 12.4 (76)

Richmond are parking the bus? [Tim Allen ‘Home Improvement’ grunt rings out]. This is dismal from Richmond. They’ve started the final term with seven in defence. Right as I say that, Dustin Martin shoves Sam Docherty in the chest like a school bully, gets the ball to Rioli, and Rioli slams a goal home from close to 50 metres out.

10.21am GMT

Three-quarter time: Richmond 15.11 (101) vs Carlton 12.4 (76)

And that is all she wrote for the third term. Richmond went forward two final times for the term but couldn’t capitalise, which is apt. They’ve been oddly muted in this quarter, and they’ve given Carlton a sniff. The Blues have had 1o fewer scoring shots but they’re hanging in there. Richmond couldn’t possibly lose this from here, could they?

10.18am GMT

Blues goal! 3rd quarter (1:34 remaining) Richmond 15.11 (101) vs Carlton 12.4 (76)

Carlton surge yet again! Kade Simpson switches play coming out of defence and works the ball along the southern wing and soon finds Weitering at half-forward. He sends it inside 50 where Alex Rance grabs the ball and attempts to sprint into space, but in doing so he underrates the speed of Matthew Wright and gets tackled to the ground. Holding the ball! Wright is 25 metres out on a slight angle and sneaks it home! Richmond should have buried this game. Instead it’s in the balance.

10.16am GMT

Blues goal! 3rd quarter (3:42 remaining) Richmond 15.11 (101) vs Carlton 11.4 (70)

Carlton might be missing him in defence but Jacob Weitering is also a formidable target when he’s isolated one-on-one. Here he takes a towering mark over over Alex Rance and his fifth kick of the night turns out to be his third goal. Richmond: two steps forward, one step back.

10.13am GMT

Tigers goal! 3rd quarter (4:26 remaining) Richmond 15.11 (101) vs Carlton 10.4 (64)

Richmond need a spark here and there is little surprise it comes from Dustin Martin, who shimmies, shakes and bakes, then slips around an opponent before hitting Shane Edwards on the chest 40 metres from goal. It’s money for jam, this one, but Edwards misses. Suddenly it’s the Tigers who are anaemic and unconvincing; Carlton have cut off their run and refuse to allow them to play on at will as per the first half.

10.06am GMT

Blues goal! 3rd quarter (10:16 remaining) Richmond 14.9 (93) vs Carlton 10.4 (64)

I was exaggerating slightly about Carlton’s determined effort. They’ve lacked poise and class – and that is a function of experience – but they haven’t been disgraced so far. Unlike McIntosh earlier, Bryce Gibbs now gets pinged for a deliberate out of bounds when he sinks his boot into the ball when it’s on the ground, but Carlton recover well enough and Casboult is soon leaping high in the drop zone 35 metres out from goal, and not only marks but goals with his chance. Richmond have fallen asleep at the wheel again. A theory: these prolonged momentum problems don’t bode well for their season, even if there is plenty else to like.

10.02am GMT

Blues goal! 3rd quarter (12:55 remaining) Richmond 14.8 (92) vs Carlton 9.4 (58)

Right now Richmond lead the inside-50s by ten; 35-45. That seems about right. As does the sight of Jason Castagna with the ball in his hands. He marks another nice pass from Butler here, 45 metres out almost dead in front. He takes his time on a set shot but hangs it to the right – his seventh score involvement for the night.

9.57am GMT

Blues goal! 3rd quarter (16:12 remaining) Richmond 14.5 (89) vs Carlton 8.4 (52)

Alex Rance hasn’t had many possessions tonight but clears danger here for his side, intercepting and then sending them back into attack. Riewoldt marks 70 metres from goal and sends a long pass to Lloyd, but the latter is bodied out of the contest by Sam Docherty and the ball spills out of bounds. As is his lot in life, Levi Casboult gets a horror bounce out on the wing but Carlton somehow manufacture something. Pickett gets the ball in scoring range after a pass from Weitering but he flicks a handball over the top for Dale Thomas to get a gimme in the goal square. A welcome steadier for Carlton.

9.54am GMT

Tigers goal! 3rd quarter (18:07 remaining) Richmond 14.5 (89) vs Carlton 7.4 (46)

Only a bit of overly generous handballing from Jason Castagna (impressive so far) following another pass from Daniel Butler (even more impressive so far) prevents Carlton conceding an early goal here, but trouble does not clear. Jack Riewoldt soon has a set shot and opens his 2017 account by out-swinging a tough one from 40 metres out on a tightish angle. The floodgates could open, I fear.

9.51am GMT

We’re a few minutes away from the start of the second half, and to say Carlton need a big start is an understatement. They’re 37 points down at the moment and not looking a winning side. Marc Murphy now pulls his team-mates in close for an impassioned lecture, but it’s polish they’ll need to get back into this game. They’re really lacked for disposal efficiency when it’s counted.

9.46am GMT

Reader feedback: this is done

“You can put down your glasses,” emails Ian Swan. “The question now is whether to cheer the Bunnies against the Roosters, or mark your program for the French Film Festival.” I’d go with Truffaut and Meville, personally. Carlton could do with a few Alain Delon’s out there tonight, and maybe Jean-Paul Belmondo in the middle.

9.41am GMT

It might not be much of a contest

…but it’s clearly sent the AFL website into meltdown.

And how are our very good friends at the league going?

9.38am GMT

Case closed: Carlton have to play Weitering back or they’ll leak 20 goals a game. #AFLBluesTigers

9.33am GMT

Half-time: Richmond 13.5 (83) vs Carlton 7.4 (46)

Cometh the hour, cometh Levi Casboult? Not quite. The big Blue has received goal-kicking coaching from Sav Rocca over the summer but misses a 50-metre shot here seconds from the siren, and that is that for the first half of footy in the 2017 season. We’ve had plenty of scoring from both sides in this opening half, but Richmond look too strong.

9.30am GMT

Tigers goal! 2nd quarter (0:52 remaining) Richmond 13.5 (83) vs Carlton 7.3 (45)

Daniel Rioli ignites his side now, climbing the back of an opponent to take a minor screamer on the wing and then looping a long pass inside 50 to a one-on contest that Sam Lloyd wins. He’s normally dead-eyed in front of goal, Lloyd, and makes no mistake with a wobbly punt.

9.28am GMT

Blues goal! 2nd quarter (2:11 remaining) Richmond 12.5 (77) vs Carlton 7.3 (45)

Sheesh, Damien Hardwick should be furious with his men for this late-quarter fade. They were dominant until five minutes ago, but Carlton are punishing them for taking the foot off the gas. Now Silvagni goals to trim the margin a little, though Jacob Weitering is off the ground and clearly pained by that lower back or hip injury from earlier in the night. Finally Richmond drop an extra man back. They’ve been sloppy for the last little bit.

9.25am GMT

Blues goal! 2nd quarter (3:06 remaining) Richmond 12.5 (77) vs Carlton 6.3 (39)

Bruce McAvaney is doing a very good job of pretending that we’ve still got a game on our hands but it’s not looking good for Carlton, who continue to miss targets at regular intervals. Even last year’s best and fairest, Patrick Cripps, is butchering it. Perhaps it’s best that the AFL website and app is down, because I can’t seek statistical confirmation of Carlton’s shortcomings. Kamdyn McIntosh gets lucky when he thumps the ball forward and out of bounds with clear intent to force a stoppage, and the umpire let’s it pass. Otherwise the umpire’s haven’t really come into it, and in fact Carlton soon get a goal with a counter-attack when Matthew Wright sprints into space and pokes one through uncontested. That came out of the blue.

9.21am GMT

Tigers goal! 2nd quarter (5:51 remaining) Richmond 12.5 (77) vs Carlton 5.3 (33)

Hmm, bad 50-metre penalty here just as Carlton were arresting their downward momentum, and it’s the most experienced man on the ground – 265-gamer Kade Simpson – who gives it away. It’s a costly one, as soon after Jason Castagna pins one of Dale Thomas’ arms and wins himself a free kick before slotting home his second goal of the night. It’s all going right for the Tigers now.

9.17am GMT

Blues goal! 2nd quarter (8:33 remaining) Richmond 11.5 (71) vs Carlton 5.3 (33)

Finally the Blues launch a meaningful counter-attack through Matty Wright and Jack Silvagni, who waits until there is contact from his opponent and hooks a neat little pass to the top of the goal sqaure and into the arms of Weitering. The latter goes back and does the business, affording himself a smile as he’s now equalled his goal-kicking tally from last season in his first half of 2017.

9.15am GMT

Tigers goal! 2nd quarter (9:44 remaining) Richmond 11.5 (71) vs Carlton 4.3 (27)

Dustin Martin gets another centre clearance here and it’s a particularly eye-catching one; having been tackled by an opponent, he just takes off regardless, giving that man a piggyback ride to view his long kick to advantage. He should get an Uber license at that rate. Jason Castagna has a flying shot at goal after an unselfish pass from Jack Riewoldt but misses to the right. Soon after Castagna turns creator, taking advantage of a Curnow turnover and firing a sideways handball to Martin. The latter snaps his third goal. He’s been lethal tonight, the Tigers star. Carlton are swamped.

9.11am GMT

Tigers goal! 2nd quarter (12:39 remaining) Richmond 10.4 (64) vs Carlton 4.3 (27)

I don’t want to go the early crow but this is looking like a dangerous period for the Blues. Richmond go forward again and with total ease, and Daniel Butler misses a very gettable chance of kicking his third goal, and he’s only 45 minutes into his AFL career. Caleb Marchbank takes a towering mark in his defensive goal square, then clears, but soon enough the Tigers ping it back inside 50 and Butler finds Daniel Rioli 25 metres out on a slight angle. That’s a soda for him, and there is no mistake. Carlton are flagging.

9.05am GMT

Tigers goal! 2nd quarter (16:23 remaining) Richmond 9.3 (57) vs Carlton 4.3 (27)

Richmond go forward again but Lachie Plowman clears well for the Blues, carrying the ball a good 15-20 metres before measuring his kick. Richmond get numbers to a stoppage at half-back and work it forward via a series of handballs, then another series of handballs inside 50, the last of which goes to Dustin Martin in oodles of space, and I think you know what comes next. His 45 metre goal has Brendon Bolton furious in the Blues coaching box.

9.03am GMT

Tigers goal! 2nd quarter (17:31 remaining) Richmond 8.3 (51) vs Carlton 4.3 (27)

We’re away in the second term and it’s Carlton with the first clearance, but it’s sideways to the member’s wing and Sam Docherty sends a sloppy pass out on the full. The Tigers go forward to the city end of the ground by Caleb Marchbank clears by just sinking his boot into it and hoping for the best. It’s all a bit scrappy for a while, but Ben Griffiths hacks it forward for Vlastuin to mark 25 metres out, and he then centres it to Shane Edwards in a more favourable position. Edwards goes back to his mark, methodically works his way in and converts the chance. First blood to the Tigers, yet again.

You’ll have not one, not two but THREE types of salt to choose from when you buy hot chips at Etihad this season.

8.53am GMT

Tigers goal! 1st quarter (0:30 remaining) Richmond 7.3 (45) vs Carlton 4.3 (27)

And that is that for the first term. Fittingly, given the way this game has gone from end to end at a frenetic rate, Carlton had one last attack here as Charlie Curnow hit Bryce Gibbs on the chest with a pass, but the veteran Blue hooks his 50-metre shot to the right for a minor score. Let’s take a breath.

8.52am GMT

Tigers goal! 1st quarter (0:30 remaining) Richmond 7.3 (45) vs Carlton 4.2 (26)

It’s a goal-fest at the MCG. Now Butler gets his second, swivelling like a striker just outside the goal square and sweeping his boot through it to get a quick reply. Carlton really needed to clear that and didn’t to disastrous results. They’re scoring at 1990s rates tonight.

8.50am GMT

Blues goal! 1st quarter (0:55 remaining) Richmond 6.3 (39) vs Carlton 4.2 (26)

After a dodgy start the Blues simply will not lie down. Now Kreuzer wins the ruck duel and the ball is bombed long. Weitering is back on the ground now and although a little breathless, wriggles ludicrously free of his man and marks 15 metres out on a 45-degree angle. He slots a simple set shot home.

8.48am GMT

Tigers goal! 1st quarter (1:43 remaining) Richmond 6.3 (39) vs Carlton 3.2 (20)

Oh dear. The Blues fought tooth and nail to score that last goal and Richmond have answered it with ease, banging the ball forward to a contest in the goal square, which Prestia roves perfectly and without a single Blue on his hammer to slam through a close-range goal.

8.47am GMT

Blues goal! 1st quarter (2:12 remaining) Richmond 5.3 (33) vs Carlton 3.2 (20)

Richmond continue to run in waves and 30 seconds after the re-start Josh Caddy has a high, curling snap from close range and misses. Jack Silvagni is often in the thick of the action but the Tigers keep surging forward. It’s a numbers game. Get it down there enough and they’re going to keep scoring. Other bad news for Blues fans is that Jacob Weitering was ironed out by Alex Rance early in the game. He stayed on for a good 15 minutes or so, but now trots off the ground feeling a little sorry for himself. Silvagni hangs a 50-metre set shot to the right but Dennis Armfield has better luck crumbing a ruck contest and dribbling a left-foot snap through from 25 metres. The Blues needed a steadier and not for the first time in his career Armfield provides it.

8.42am GMT

Tigers goal! 1st quarter (5:58 remaining) Richmond 5.2 (32) vs Carlton 2.1 (13)

Richmond continue to hack it forward and hope that Carlton’s shaky defence won’t hold up, but they’re often opened up on the counter-attack. Sam Petrevski-Seton gets involved by chasing down Josh Caddy in the middle of the ground and winning the ball. Alas, Richmond ping it forward into an empty forward line and though he could have cantered in to kick a goal himself, Dustin Martin unselfishly handballs to the first-gamer Daniel Butler so he can slam through a nerve-settling goal. That is on-field leadership.

8.38am GMT

Tigers goal! 1st quarter (8:29 remaining) Richmond 4.2 (26) vs Carlton 2.1 (13)

Carlton are alive. Sam Rowe spoils at half-back and the Blues swing into a nice transition on the southern wing, with the ball eventually ending up in the hands of Jack Silvagni. His set shot is from 30 metres out on a tricky angle and he misses. We’re going to talk about this endlessly, but doesn’t he lope around exactly like his Dad? The bow-legged gait is almost identical. Anyway, Richmond counter attack well and Riewoldt marks 45 metres out, but hooks his set shot woefully for a point.

8.33am GMT

Blues goal! 1st quarter (12:36 remaining) Richmond 3.1 (19) vs Carlton 2.0 (12)

Another for the Blues! And it’s a bad turnover from the Tigers when Nick Vlastuin loses control of the ball and gets poleaxed in the process. Bryce Gibbs is the beneficiary and having assisted in a goal 23 seconds ago, he slams through his own.

Bryce Gibbs is everywhere early #AFLBluesTigers

8.31am GMT

Blues goal! 1st quarter (12:59 remaining) Richmond 3.1 (19) vs Carlton 1.0 (6)

An early observation: Toby Nankervis is looking like a very handy pick-up in the ruck for the Tigers, especially with Shaun Hampson sidelined with injury. Finally Carlton get a chance to slow the game down a little in the centre after a series of tackling efforts reap dividends, then a sloppy pass is enough to get Bruce Gibbs involved; he sprints through the middle of the ground and sends a long, accurate pass inside 50 to Matty Kreuzer. The big Blue goes back on a 45-degree angle, 20 metres out, and punts it straight through the middle. Huge relief for the Blues. They’re on the board.

8.28am GMT

Richmond goal! 1st quarter (14:47 remaining) Richmond 3.1 (19) vs Carlton 0.0 (0)

This is pretty dreadful from the Blues. They simply can’t get their hands on it long enough and when they do it’s not exactly slick ball movement. By contrast, Dustin Martin gets the ball in his hands, runs off the mark and spears a low pass to his diving midfield comrade Trent Cotchin. Cotchin is 35 metres out and sneaks it home. The Tigers are running rampant here; they’re playing on at every opportunity and looking to punish a flat-footed opponent. If this trend continues it could be a very ugly start to 2017 for the Bluebaggers.

8.26am GMT

Richmond goal! 1st quarter (16:04 remaining) Richmond 2.1 (13) vs Carlton 0.0 (0)

Richmond maraud their way through the middle with Shaun Grigg ignoring a handball option and eventually tumbling an ungainly kick forward. Reece Conca soon has a snap on goal from 40 metres out but it curls to the right for a minor score. Grigg runs off the mark soon after, brushing Ed Curnow aside and hacking it forward. There’s a throw in soon after, and Toby Nankervis plucks the ball, slams it on his left boot and from 20 metres out gets the snag! It’s not exactly pretty from the Tigers, but it’s daring and mighty effective. Carlton are MIA.

8.24am GMT

Richmond goal! 1st quarter (17:21 remaining) Richmond 1.0 (6) vs Carlton 0.0 (0)

Murphy gets a nice early touch for the Blues and they go forward but can’t quite take advantage of some pretty scrappy clearance work from the Tigers. Eventually Richmond work it forward and Dion Prestia hits the leading Jack Riewoldt on the chest. Riewoldt is 35 metres out on an acute angle on the member’s side of the MCG, but hooks it across the face for no score. No matter. Jason ‘George’ Castagna tumbles forward to mark at the top of the goal square and makes no mistake with his set shot. What a start for the youngster!

8.14am GMT

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick stops by for an interview now

“It’s good to be back on the ‘G,” he says. “We just spoke about…it’s a siege mentality at the start.” He then goes left field, saying he told his players they should take a lesson from the contrasting approaches of Matt Renshaw and David Warner to opening the batting for Australia. In essence: do what works for you.

8.09am GMT

A nice little moment for the debutant Tigers

Dan Butler (on his league debut), Toby Nankervis, Josh Caddy and Dion Prestia were all presented their game jumper by Tigers legend Francis Bourke, who was a little hard to recognise not covered in blood. If they play with his spirit and verve tonight, the Tigers should be OK.

8.07am GMT

This would have to be the most anticipa…umm…anyway…

How many AFL seasons in the past 20 years have been called ‘most anticipated’, ‘most even’ in the week before round 1? Most of em?

8.04am GMT

The comforting sight and sound of Bruce McAvaney

…is now washing over football fans sitting at home. I don’t know about you, but with Dennis Cometti now retired, I kind of hope Bruce hangs on forever. There is something to be said for a bit of class. We’re now 16 minutes from the opening bounce.

7.57am GMT

Tonight’s teams

Items of interest: among plenty of debutants, a lot of us are most looking forward to Deion Prestia’s first appearance in the yellow and black. I’m also keen to see what sort of physical development Jack Silvagni has made in the off-season. He showed plenty of promise as a skinny rookie last season

7.50am GMT


Hello all and welcome to AFL season 2017. Russell Jackson here. Tonight we’ll watching Richmond and Carlton enact their now-traditional season-opener in front of a rabid crowd at the MCG. There are plenty of people out there who think this game should be a far more blockbustery pairing of sides than these two, but just as many are happy that we have senior men’s footy of any sort to watch. I’ll be back shortly with tonight’s teams.

1.11am GMT

Russell will be here shortly. In the meantime, have a read of Craig Little’s preview of this match, and the season ahead:

Related: Starting over again: AFL season begins with round characterised by contrasts | Craig Little

Continue reading…

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Mar 21

AFL season preview: Giants expected to walk tall with Bulldogs and Swans | Russell Jackson

The primary threat to the Bulldogs’ premiership defence is Greater Western Sydney, despite the Giants having become victims of their almost-success

As befits the surreal nature of modern life, the AFL’s season-launching TV commercials have set a disorienting template for the 2017 football season ahead. In one, the reigning premier Western Bulldogs – a working class club who used to be content with the brand exposure gained from window displays at Footscray butchers shops – find themselves in the nouveau riche wonderland of being spruiked by their very own Hollywood superfan Chris Hemsworth.

Doggies loyalists must shake their heads at such a turn of events; 25 years ago they had Danny Del-Re selling them a membership, now they’ve got Thor crashing through the living room window as they re-watch their special edition premiership DVDs, thumb glossy commemorative books and sing along one more time to Sons of the West.

Related: Porky Pies: Collingwood ban Jordan De Goey over lies about hand injury

Related: ‘Broad acceptance’ from AFL fans over twilight grand final proposal

Continue reading…

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Mar 20

Australia keep Border-Gavaskar series alive in Ranchi – as it happened

  • Australia (240-6) bat out entire final day to secure third Test draw
  • Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh keep Border-Gavaskar series alive

11.27am GMT

And one final thing: here’s the match report from Adam Collins in Ranchi.

Related: Handscomb and Marsh guide Australia to draw and keep India series alive

11.07am GMT

It all started for Australia on day one with Matthew Renshaw and David Warner. Another 50 partnership. Then Steve Smith, batting forever and ever. Then Glenn Maxwell, the good news story, grinding out an atypical ton and reaching that milestone for the first time in Tests. The second Australian to do it in all three international formats. Smith’s 19th ton, 361 balls, unbeaten.

Then India. Runs from everywhere, bar their captain. Doing it without him, unworried. Grinding Australia into the dirt. Rahul and Vijay opening with fifties, then Pujara’s long-haul double hundred, and Saha’s down-the-order century addition. O’Keefe bowled 77 goddamn overs in the one innings. Maxwell bowled four. You do the maths.

10.58am GMT

What a performance from Australia. No touring side has batted out a fifth day draw in India since 2010/11, I’m reliably informed, but this sometimes fragile batting team has done it here. At four wickets down before lunch, with Smith and Renshaw done within four balls of one another, surely that must have been game over? But no. The erratic Shaun Marsh and the new boy Peter Handscomb batted through 62.1 overs to run down the clock, soak up the balls, and push Australia into the lead. Not a big one, but enough that India wouldn’t be able to chase it down. And even when Marsh fell, and Maxwell went quickly, there was not enough time left for India to force the result.

10.57am GMT

100th over: Australia 204-6 (Handscomb 72, Wade 9)

Wide by Jadeja, and Handscomb punches another four. Takes his score into the 70s. They face out the over, then finally Kohli signals for the draw. The batsmen accept, and Australia have escaped.

10.54am GMT

99th over: Australia 200-6 (Handscomb 68, Wade 9)

Smith lurks on the balcony. I don’t know why. Kohli is concentrating on the field. Ashwin is bowling. Wade is driving him through cover for four. The 200 is up. Starting to grasp the significance of this Australian performance, from where it began before lunch on this final day.

10.51am GMT

98th over: Australia 196-6 (Handscomb 68, Wade 5)

Handscomb is remaining oh-so-sensible and mature in the circumstances. No silly shots. Just another defensive over. Another Jadeja maiden. Apparently if Australia declared now India would need 44 from 2 overs. Or something.

10.46am GMT

97th over: Australia 196-6 (Handscomb 68, Wade 5)

Kohli has given up. I speculate. Watching him out there, his shoulders have finally slumped. Ashwin bowls on the pads and Wade punches four through midwicket. The lead is 44. Meaning that even if India ran through four more wickets in an over, they’d only have a couple of overs left to chase those runs.

10.44am GMT

96th over: Australia 192-6 (Handscomb 68, Wade 1)

Jadeja working away. Two singles, no real danger. “Let’s hope some of the England players are watching Handscomb and Marsh bat, eh?” emails Kevin Wilson. That seems like a turning of the tables, looking to Australians for tips on batting out a draw.

10.41am GMT

95th over: Australia 190-6 (Handscomb 67, Wade 0)

Wade in to weigh in. Defends two. Wicket maiden for Ashwin. His first from 28 overs.

10.39am GMT

Not that comfortable, ok then. Ashwin fires one in, Maxwell si trying to defend but goes with hard hands, gets an inside edge into his pad, it skips up to Vijay in close on the off side. Australia 38 in front with seven overs to play.

10.37am GMT

94th over: Australia 190-5 (Handscomb 67, Maxwell 2)

Jadeja. Handscomb edges into his pad. Then puches a single. Maxwell works another, he’s comfortable enough so far.

10.33am GMT

93rd over: Australia 188-5 (Handscomb 66, Maxwell 1)

Another appeal as Ashwin bowls, but Maxwell has been hit outside the line. Sees out the over competently enough, using his feet. He’s in the baggy green now, classic stuff.

10.30am GMT

92nd over: Australia 188-5 (Handscomb 66, Maxwell 1)

Maxwellball. It’s that time. An appeal against Maxwell first ball as the contact may have been pad first. India’s players think about it but don’t review. Tension. He flicks a single to end the over.

10.28am GMT

Finally, India break a 124-run partnership that has saved a match for Australia. Floated down, Marsh plays yet another forward defence, edges to short leg and Vijay snaps it up. Australia 35 ahead with five in hand and 10 overs after this.

10.26am GMT

91st over: Australia 187-4 (Marsh 53, Handscomb 66)

That’s more like it! Spanked through square leg by Handscomb, as Sharma drops short and the in-touch batsman gets every bit of it, airborne but safe. Clunked.

10.21am GMT

90th over: Australia 183-4 (Marsh 53, Handscomb 62)

Another quick over from Jadeja, just the single from a Handscomb straight drive. That’s not going to get you to a hundred, feller.

10.16am GMT

89th over: Australia 182-4 (Marsh 53, Handscomb 61)

Finally, some pace. With an eight-over-old ball. Ishant Sharma hasn’t bowled for so long that he trips over his front leg and commando-rolls down the pitch in his follow-through. The Australians know this style of bowling better though. A Marsh glide to third man, a Handscomb flick to turn a dangerous full ball on the pads into a single to fine leg. With 13 overs left, should Handscomb hit out and go for a ton? Australia only 30 ahead. Risk-reward.

10.11am GMT

88th over: Australia 180-4 (Marsh 52, Handscomb 60)

Jadeja keeps wheeling away. Left-arm round the wicket to the right-handed Handscomb. Defending, then driving hard through cover. but there’s a man back there, no run. Nearly nicks the final ball as it spins away. But this isn’t India’s day. It ends up as another maiden. I’ll revise my 11 overs, this is actually the first of the last 15 overs required in the last hour. Should Australia declare and set India 60 from four overs? It would be pointless but fun. Like most limited-overs cricket.

10.07am GMT

87th over: Australia 180-4 (Marsh 52, Handscomb 60)

That warms the heart. Shaun Marsh gets a round of applause from Virat Kohli. Gets an equally unexpected round from various members of the Australian public. He’s done a job this series, first in Bengaluru and again here. Another long and determined innings. Raises the fifty with a straight drive after skipping down at Ashwin, finally choosing his preferred ball after seeing so many of them. 11 overs left at drinks, the last hour called by Gaffer Gaffaney, and Australia 28 runs to the good.

10.02am GMT

86th over: Australia 175-4 (Marsh 48, Handscomb 59)

Jadeja, another maiden. Gets one to bounce and rip and beat the outside edge of Marsh’s bat. But that’s it. For the last two sessions India’s bowlers have been all threat, no execution. Which is how you want your relationship with the Mafia to be.

9.59am GMT

85th over: Australia 174-4 (Marsh 48, Handscomb 58)

Another one-run over from Ashwin. 13 remaining. No sign of India’s quicks.

9.58am GMT

84th over: Australia 173-4 (Marsh 48, Handscomb 57)

“Gidday Geoff,” writes Roman from Thailand. “Following your posts on the Guardian website. Sounds like gripping & thrilling Test match cricket from two of cricket’s most combative & proud cricketing nations. Great to see! Should be an enthralling end to this Test.”

9.53am GMT

83rd over: Australia 172-4 (Marsh 48, Handscomb 56)

Ashwin round the wicket, bowling flat and full at the left-handed Marsh. Gets through him, strikes him on the pad. India go for another wasted review. They love this stuff. Clearly that was going down leg. Gould the umpire again. Somehow, HawkEye is claiming that was clipping leg stump, when it looked like it would go six inches wide. But clipping is not enough to overturn the umpire’s correct call. Another maiden, but that’s just fine for Australia. Their lead is only 20, but they have only 15 overs to survive.

9.50am GMT

82nd over: Australia 172-4 (Marsh 48, Handscomb 56)

Marsh drives a single first ball, Jadeja into the covers. Handscomb isn’t exactly defending the rest, he nails one on the off side and one on the leg, but straight to the field.

9.47am GMT

81st over: Australia 171-4 (Marsh 47, Handscomb 56)

Except it won’t be India’s quicks with the new ball. It will be Ashwin at first. Inside edge from Marsh immediately. A couple of defensive strokes. Drives a quick single wide of mid on. Handscomb is struck from the last ball, almost in the stomach as he lunged forward in a crouching defensive position. Umpire Gould isn’t interested. Handscomb eschews the helmet at the end of the over for the baggy cap.

9.43am GMT

80th over: Australia 170-4 (Marsh 46, Handscomb 56)

Jadeja bowls the 80th. A maiden to Handscomb. A new ball will be available now, if India’s quicks want to use it. That might just help the Australians score more quickly though. The lead is up to 18. More importantly perhaps, the 80th over sees India get their reviews back. Get ready to burn, baby, burn.

9.40am GMT

79th over: Australia 170-4 (Marsh 46, Handscomb 56)

Ashwin. Marsh. Maiden.

9.40am GMT

78th over: Australia 170-4 (Marsh 46, Handscomb 56)

Handscomb finally living up to his billing as a good player of spin. He’s looked very comfortable out here today, and never more so than against a rare short ball from Jadeja. Crash. Cut shot. Four.

9.36am GMT

77th over: Australia 166-4 (Marsh 46, Handscomb 52)

Outlive. Outlast. Outmarsh. That is the Marsh motto, and he soaks up a Ravi Ashwin over like a washcloth on a kitchen spill.

9.34am GMT

76th over: Australia 166-4 (Marsh 46, Handscomb 52)

Marsh versus Jadeja. Defends, defends, defends. Gets a run when one ball keeps low and is edged on the bounce behind point. Fielded in the deep. Handscomb comes on strike, and gets a ball a bit like the Smith one. Except that Handscomb gets enough pad in the way. Jadeja appeals madly. But he’s bowling over the wicket, so he’s appealing madly for a ball that has pitched well outside leg. As he’s been appealing madly all day. It’s… kind of embarrassing. I don’t necessarily agree with the lbw law the way it’s written, but there’s no value in ignoring it completely.

9.30am GMT

75th over: Australia 165-4 (Marsh 45, Handscomb 52)

Yadav continues. There’s that scent of desperation just starting to creep in. It’s like burning hair, distinctive and cuts through everything else. You never have to ask if it is what you think it is. He’s hammering the stumps, bowling yorkers to Handscomb, but the batsman is playing these ripping deliveries well, and when Yadav slips a bit too far towards leg stump, Handscomb works him through fine leg for four for the milestone. Handscomb has had a brief sojourn from making half-centuries, but now he’s back.

9.25am GMT

74th over: Australia 159-4 (Marsh 45, Handscomb 46)

Marsh is finding his way off strike easily enough now, working Jadeja to leg again. Handscomb immediately swaps back with a push to cover. Two runs from the over make it an expensive one by Jadeja’s standards.

9.22am GMT

73rd over: Australia 157-4 (Marsh 44, Handscomb 45)

Four! And Australia surge ahead. Yadav bowls straight, Marsh flicks behind square. That’s one of his best strokes, and he’s been very good today. Times it well enough to beat a weary Ashwin running around from a finer fine leg position. Marsh flicks a single towards Ashwin, straighter.

9.18am GMT

72nd over: Australia 151-4 (Marsh 39, Handscomb 45)

Jadeja will just attack the stumps all day. He has 3 for 34 from 29 overs. Marsh scrambles a leg bye after one hits him on the thigh, Handscomb was sharp to the chance for a run, and scores are level. Whatever Australia scores now, India has to knock off. That’s the only score, so its’ another maiden for the bowler. His 15th from what is now 30 overs. Absurd.

9.14am GMT

71st over: Australia 151-4 (Marsh 39, Handscomb 45)

Yadav to Handscomb and that is out. Except it isn’t. Isn’t given, that is. A fast fullish ball that cuts in off the pitch, beats the inside edge of the defensive stroke, and nails Handscomb on the back pad in front of middle. That is out, live, every single minute of every day. But Umpire Gould doesn’t give it. Thinks that the height may have spared Handscomb. Hit just above the knee roll, but he was way back on his stumps and it was his back leg. Kohli reviews, as you should, and misses out by about a millimetre. DRS shows it as umpire’s call, even though most of the ball is hitting most of the top of middle stump. Bad call for mine. A couple of balls later, Yadav gets one to keep low, and Handscomb jams down for a single. How close these margins. Marsh works a single from the last. The 150 is up.

9.08am GMT

70th over: Australia 149-4 (Marsh 38, Handscomb 44)

Ashwin to start things off. Nearly has Marsh stumped second ball, but the batsman just shoves the toe back behind the line before Saha gets the bails off. Just a leaning defensive stroke that dragged the batsman forward. Marsh faces out a maiden. The pitch is beginning to puff up.

9.05am GMT

Let’s have a look at the options. Australia could bat India out of the match. Australia could lose 6 for 11 again and India could knock off a few token runs. Australia could be bowled out after an hour at 60 or 70 ahead and leave India a tricky chase. Australia could be bowled out after an hour and a half at 60 ahead and leave India to make a crash-bash attempt to win. Australia could send Maxwell out to make a hundred from nine overs and then run through 10 Indian wickets in the last 20. Some of these things are more likely than others. But everything is on the table. Some things more on the table than others.

8.45am GMT

Hello friends, hello foes, hello family. Hello fingers, hello toes, hello ramblings. What a tasty scenario ahead of us. Thanks Russell, Geoff here, let’s do some cricketing. Drop me a line via the email on the left of screen, or the top if you’re on a phone, or twitter at me via @GeoffLemonSport.

8.43am GMT

69th over: Australia 149-4 (Marsh 38, Handscomb 44)

And that is tea on day five. Australia’s Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb have survived the entire second session on a day-five pitch in India, which is a feat worthy of applause. The final over featured a flick to leg by Marsh, who trotted through for one, and Handscomb handled the rest with characteristic excellence, turning two runs to deep square leg and defending stoutly otherwise.

8.39am GMT

68th over: Australia 146-4 (Marsh 37, Handscomb 42)

Some minor drama here as Handscomb skips down the track and misses an attempted flick to leg. It hit him in line but would have spun past leg stump, and the home side knew it. There is plenty of noise and puffs of dust in the Ashwin over, but no breakthrough. A positive for India: he got through it quick enough for Jadeja to bowl one more.

8.36am GMT

67th over: Australia 145-4 (Marsh 36, Handscomb 42)

If Jadeja and Ashwin play their cards right here this could be the first of three overs before tea, though it’s a moot point anyway with the Australian pair handling things so well. My worry, for Australia: a break in the momentum they’ve built in this session favours India and India alone. Another maiden for Jadeja. He’s collected those at will today.

8.33am GMT

66th over: Australia 145-4 (Marsh 36, Handscomb 42)

With no offence to his dear Mum, Robert Lewis drops by now with a craptacular Ranchi anecdote in keeping with India’s bowling efforts in this session. “Just thought I’d drop by at this tense moment to tell you – apropos of nothing at all – that my Mum was born in Ranchi in 1923,” he writes. “She’s still going strong at 93. I visited the city in 1975, on my way back from Australia. I can remember almost nothing about it. Pretty dull place, really. Good bung lassi though.”

8.29am GMT

65th over: Australia 144-4 (Marsh 36, Handscomb 41)

Vis a vis Michael Clarke’s soft ball insights of earlier, India now request a harder one. Ian Gould tells them to turn it up, and well he might. He also says no to a Ravindra Jadeja LBW appeal against Marsh, which wouldn’t have hit Wriddhiman Saha in his protective box if he was doing a star jump. India are getting a bit desperate now. Australia trail by just eight runs.

8.26am GMT

64th over: Australia 143-4 (Marsh 36, Handscomb 40)

Ashwin continues, and the Australians have 15 minutes to see off the pre-Tea threat. So often in this series a wicket has fallen with the end of a session in sight. Both batsmen will be desperate to avoid that fate. Another thing: I can’t help but feel as though denying Ashwin any wickets today could be a symbolic blow for the likes of Handscomb when he and his younger cohorts return for other Indian trips. Right now they’re blunting India’s spin spearhead on his own decks. Australia don’t have a history of doing that.

8.23am GMT

63rd over: Australia 141-4 (Marsh 35, Handscomb 39)

Scrap everything I said before: Jadeja has merely changed ends, so Ashwin might have been a fill-in. Or he’ll keep bowling and Ishant is gone from the attack. Kohli might as well throw Wriddhiman Saha the ball, to be frank. Handscomb is defending with aplomb and ever-alert to runs. Jadeja was jumping around like John Lydon earlier, and bowling with venom. Now he’s just another trundler.

8.20am GMT

62nd over: Australia 139-4 (Marsh 35, Handscomb 37)

Interesting. Ashwin didn’t set the world on fire earlier but now he replaces Jadeja – India’s biggest threat. KL Rahul is the man in Virat Kohli’s crosshairs in this over. He fields a ball at deep mid-wicket and sends in a woeful through to Wriddhiman Saha. It sails straight over the keeper’s head and runs away for four overthrows. Not great.

8.17am GMT

61st over: Australia 134-4 (Marsh 35, Handscomb 32)

Like a faithful basset hound, Ishant’s long and longing face tell the tale of a bowler not being rewarded for his wholehearted efforts. He removed Matt Renshaw earlier in the day with a low skidder, but Handscomb does his Handscomb thing here and gets a single from the second delivery of the over. That forces the bowler to adjust for the left-handed Marsh. The Australian batsmen are settled, but the bowler is not. One thing Ishant does have going for him is reverse swing, and he bowls a gem of an in-swinger to Marsh, who is nevertheless solid in defending it. With 25 minutes left in this second session, Australia trail by 18 runs and the Marsh-Handscomb partnership is worth 71 from 31.5 overs.

8.10am GMT

60th over: Australia 133-4 (Marsh 35, Handscomb 31)

There is a little bit of a pattern developing here, and it works perfectly for Australia: Handscomb gets a single early in the over and Shaun Marsh absorbs the rest. He has two slightly hairy moments in this over, moving back and across to defend Jadeja and then getting a leading edge to a forward defence. Neither goes close to doing him in though, so wotevs, as the kids probably don’t even say anymore.

8.08am GMT

59th over: Australia 132-4 (Marsh 35, Handscomb 30)

Ashwin’s nightmare over a few minutes ago comes with repercussions; he’s banished from the attack and Ishant returns with some pace. With Marsh on strike the big quick has two slips and a short mid-wicket, and soon a short leg moves in too. None troubles Marsh too much, because he’s moving through this final day in determined silence, like Alain Delon’s ice-cold hitman Jef Costello in Le Samourai.

8.01am GMT

58th over: Australia 131-4 (Marsh 35, Handscomb 29)

There is a layer of comedy underlying this Australian effort, it has to be said. Remember a week ago when the travelling press was claiming skullduggery at their first sight of this pitch? How surreal it would be if Australia confidently bats out a final day spin onslaught in India. Maiden for Jadeja, though it’s not as pregnant with possibilities as his pre-lunch efforts.

7.58am GMT

57th over: Australia 131-4 (Marsh 35, Handscomb 29)

Ashwin errs too, offering up a full toss for Handscomb as the batsman advances down the wicket and batters the ball through mid-wicket for four. A few balls later Handscomb shuffles back and cuts hard through cover to get four more, then makes it three boundaries in the over with an imperious on-drive. Ashwin is bowling like a drain. Australia trail by only 21 now; only 40 minutes from tea they’re look increasingly capable of forcing a draw to keep themselves in the series. Let’s be honest: a winner-takes-all fourth Test is a dream scenario for all concerned.

7.55am GMT

56th over: Australia 117-4 (Marsh 34, Handscomb 16)

Marsh puts his foot down now, latching onto a rare bit of flight from Jadeja and driving square on the half-volley to claim a boundary from the spinner; they’ve been as rare as hen’s teeth today. I tell you what else is rare: Australians actually making things. A friend has just sent me a rather depressing video from inside the old R.M. Crockett cricket equipment factory in Melbourne’s west. It’s been converted into “warehouse-style” apartments. Of course it has.

7.52am GMT

55th over: Australia 113-4 (Marsh 30, Handscomb 16)

Marsh has an opportunity to hammer an Ashwin full toss into the heavens here but he’s set on defence, so merely pats it along the ground for a single to mid-on. A few more singles are handy runs, pushing Australia along to trail by just 39 runs. With that the partnership between Handscomb and Marsh is worth 50 from 156 deliveries.

7.48am GMT

54th over: Australia 109-4 (Marsh 28, Handscomb 14)

Jadeja welcomes Handscomb back from the drinks break with a straight and not entirely penetrating over, and the batsman punches a back-foot drive out to deep points to finish the over and retain the strike.

7.41am GMT

53rd over: Australia 108-4 (Marsh 28, Handscomb 13)

Ashwin has a slip, a leg slip and a short leg for Shaun Marsh, who continues with his reverse-Gooch pad work. I wouldn’t say he’s making batting look easy, but for Australia’s sake there is certainly a comforting level of security in his defence. Another maiden, and that is drinks.

7.40am GMT

52nd over: Australia 108-4 (Marsh 28, Handscomb 13)

It’s been an enigmatic series for Handscomb so far; he’s never looked significantly troubled by the bowling but he just keeps getting himself out once he’s in. On that note, he’s now in the danger period – 13 from 67 deliveries as Jadeja spins one past his outside edge. No nick. Maiden. Eleven maidens for Jadeja. The outfielders could have a stretch while he’s bowling.

7.38am GMT

51st over: Australia 108-4 (Marsh 28, Handscomb 13)

I spend a fair bit of time laying into Brett Lee and Matthew Hayden, so it is only fair to point out that Michael Clarke is growing into a quite shrewd analyst early in his TV career, because he offers insights beyond the bleeding obvious. In this over he’s talking about the softening of the ball, which is a step up from pizza toppings. It’s a maiden for Ashwin and continues a period of intense pressure, though Jadeja remains the real threat.

7.35am GMT

50th over: Australia 108-4 (Marsh 28, Handscomb 13)

With the pace threat gone, Peter Handscomb calls for his baggy green cap. At the risk of labouring the point, this manoeuvre hasn’t always come up trumps for his team-mates in this series. Jadeja has a slip, a silly point and a short leg, but no luck drawing a rash stroke from the Victorian. Maiden. Jadeja now has 10 of those in his 3-22 from 20 overs.

7.33am GMT

49th over: Australia 108-4 (Marsh 28, Handscomb 13)

Michael Clarke’s mooted Umesh-Ashwin switcheroo finally happens, and the batsmen have about ten minutes to get through before they stop for a drink, which is among many mini-milestones they’ll hope to tick off. Handscomb advances to the off-spinner and turns a single through mid-wicket, and there was one earlier in the over for Marsh.

7.30am GMT

48th over: Australia 106-4 (Marsh 27, Handscomb 12)

First delivery of this over from the returning Ravindra Jadeja draws an unhinged celebr-appeal from the bowler when Handscomb bends his front leg forward to pad up. It was a very hopeful shout, but Jadeja carries on as though he’s watching Shane Warne’s Gatting ball for the first time. If he actually takes a wicket he might combust. We’re half an hour and ten minutes from tea now, and Australia are set to face spin from both ends for the first time today.

7.26am GMT

47th over: Australia 106-4 (Marsh 27, Handscomb 12)

So yes, it was more Umesh in this over, and more of the same from him. The partnership is now worth 43 runs from 108 deliveries, which is putting Australia in a far better position to secure a draw than many of us expected two hours ago. In Marsh we trust? Australia trail by 46 runs, and India desperately need a wicket.

7.24am GMT

Not only was it hitting him outside the line of off stump, but it also pitched outside leg stump. Kohli chuckles and raises an apologetic hand to his bowler, who wasn’t entirely committed himself. A terrible review, really.

7.23am GMT

But he shrugs those infamous shoulders as his as he calls for it, which doesn’t fill India with hope. This is a speculative review at best. Marsh shouldered arms but it appeared to hit him outside the line of off stump.

7.21am GMT

46th over: Australia 105-4 (Marsh 27, Handscomb 11)

Ashwin continues with a maiden at the same end, so Michael Clarke will not get his wish just yet. As that is happening Ruth Purdue arrives with a question, which is so wide in its scope I have trouble offering much in the way of a coherent response. “Is Brett Lee the antithesis of Matthew Hayden?” she writes. They’re both the antithesis of informative commentators, I know that.

7.18am GMT

45th over: Australia 105-4 (Marsh 27, Handscomb 11)

The law of diminishing Yadavs continue to be proven here, with Umesh groaning his way through an unimposing over. Michael Clarke reckons Ashwin should be bowling from Umesh’s end, and Jadeja from Ashwin’s. Virat Kohli had a word to Ashwin at the end of the last over, so that may well happen. Australia trail by 47 runs now, so Kohli has some thinking to do. A 60-run chase in the third session is far from ideal for India.

7.13am GMT

44th over: Australia 101-4 (Marsh 27, Handscomb 8)

Wonderful stuff here by the newly-confident Marsh, who takes half a little shimmy-step down the track to Ashwin and then cracks a quite sublime on drive to the rope to take Australia past 100. You don’t say this often, but I reckon it’s time to give Ashwin a rest. Ravindra Jadeja is the man for the occasion here.

7.10am GMT

43rd over: Australia 97-4 (Marsh 23, Handscomb 8)

Umesh continues to Marsh, who I’ve been describing in slightly unflattering terms of late. In actual fact, he’s starting to look a bit more comfortable against the paceman now, mainly I think because Umesh is angling it too far across him towards the slips. “He’s a very, very nice fella, Shaun Marsh,” says Brett Lee with typically searing insight. Marsh gets a very, very nice single, and that’s about it for the over.

7.05am GMT

42nd over: Australia 96-4 (Marsh 22, Handscomb 8)

Holy moly. Handscomb advances down the pitch to a full toss but he almost cracks it straight into the hands of the man at short mid-wicket, and the Indians around the bat are really whooping it up at the prospect of a wicket. Still, had he timed it, Handscomb would have just as easily smoked that for a boundary.

7.02am GMT

41st over: Australia 96-4 (Marsh 22, Handscomb 8)

Much like Steve Smith earlier, Handscomb leads India to believe he’s an LBW candidate with that shuffle across in front of his stumps. He almost refuses to use his front foot to the quicks, so Umesh is looking to send a low shooter into his stumps and almost succeeds but for an inside edge. To fuller balls outside off stump, Marsh is swishing his way through that lovely Trescothickesque leave of his. It’s a stylish leave, though not as stylish as the straight drives he cannons past Umesh when the paceman over-pitches. That’s four bits. Australia now trail by 56. Maybe they can make India bat again.

6.58am GMT

40th over: Australia 91-4 (Marsh 18, Handscomb 7)

A drop! It was a tough but very gettable chance for Karun Nair at short leg. Handscomb was forward and flicking it towards the man under the lid. Nair keeps low enough, and shifts his hands to the right quickly enough, but the ball doesn’t stick in either mitt. Ashwin is a little cheesed but he knows it was no fait accompli. A single to Handscomb to finish the over relieves Marsh of his ongoing ordeal at the hands of Umesh Yadav.

6.55am GMT

39th over: Australia 90-4 (Marsh 18, Handscomb 6)

Umesh is coming around the wicket to Marsh and first up this over he tails one away from the left-hander’s outside edge. The other arresting sight early in the over is the neat queue of three helmets strategically placed behind wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha. They act as a warning for what’s to come in the next over. But to matters present: Umesh is bowling a treat in this over, and Marsh is doing nothing more positive than squirming his way through a thorough examination from the paceman. You wouldn’t be surprised if Umesh walked down the pitch and asked him to cough. Marsh survives the over without having to claim his Medicare rebate.

6.51am GMT

38th over: Australia 90-4 (Marsh 18, Handscomb 6)

Ashwin appears now for his second over, which means Ravindra Jadeja is taking his first break of the day after that sublime spell in the first session. Handscomb squirts one down the leg side and Rahane almost cleans up his mess at leg gully, diving athletically to his left but narrowly missing purchase on the ball. Marsh turns three through mid-wicket to finish the over, and looks far less jittery against the spinner.

6.47am GMT

37th over: Australia 86-4 (Marsh 15, Handscomb 5)

OK, we’re off and away in the session which may or may not seal Australia’s fate in this Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. Umesh Yadav is the bowler and Peter Handscomb the Australian batsman on strike. He neatly deposits one down to third man to pick up one, and Yadav soon has Marsh hopping in the air like he’s defending a corner. Two leg byes around the corner finish an over of odds and ends.

6.38am GMT

Signs of life? “Is it cowardly to pray for a monsoon?” asks reader Gervase Greene. No Gervase, no it’s not.

Here is #WinViz at the start of the afternoon session in Ranchi. Can Australia salvage a draw? #IndvAus

6.24am GMT

Australia complete a third of the day having lost only a quarter of their remaining batsmen. Massively on top. #INDvAUS

6.07am GMT

What’s happening in the cricket? Haven’t had the chance to watch today #INDvAUS

6.03am GMT

36th over: Australia 83-4 (Marsh 15, Handscomb 4)

And that is lunch on day five in Ranchi, ending a session in which Australia lost Matt Renshaw and Steve Smith in quick succession after they’d looked good to bat out the day. The last over of the session was not Jadeja’s best and Handcomb sent a compact drive through cover to finish it with three runs, but the Indian spinner has bowled his side into a commanding position here. His 3-22 from 18 overs has featured nine maidens and he might well bowl India to victory after lunch.

5.59am GMT

35th over: Australia 79-4 (Marsh 14, Handscomb 1)

Ravichandran Ashwin finally gets his first bowl of the morning, which is perhaps a bit harsh on India’s most prolific bowler of the decade. He has a throaty LBW shout against Marsh, but Ian Gould deems it to be hitting the batsman’s pad slightly outside the line of off stump. Marsh knows the danger here; Ashwin has nipped him out four times in Test, but he survives. We’ll have one more over from Jadeja.

5.56am GMT

34th over: Australia 78-4 (Marsh 13, Handscomb 1)

BREAKING: RAVINDRA JADEJA BOWLS BAD BALL. Incredible, I know. It’s short, straight, and Shaun Marsh recovers well enough from his surprise to whip it through mid-wicket for a boundary. That means Jadeja has 3-18 from 17 overs by the end of this one, which features a fast arm-ball that nearly does Handscomb in. He’s been a real handful for the Australians bowling unchanged throughout this session, the left-armer.

5.53am GMT

33rd over: Australia 73-4 (Marsh 8, Handscomb 1)

Kabir Sethi has a question. “Renshaw and now Smith – how much of this was because of the fracas at the start of Ishant’s last over? Did they get unsettled with all the chatter?” I think it definitely ruffled Renshaw, but then the ball that got him did keep very low, now that I see replays. Smith’s was just a minor lapse in concentration of the type we didn’t see from Pujara yesterday. Back in the moment, Ishant is now bowling a seventh over in the spell, so the best Ashwin can hope for is one speculative over before lunch. Four byes in this over are handy for Australia, because they’re still hoping to push past India’s total today and make them bat again. Right now they’re 79 runs away from that.

5.46am GMT

32nd over: Australia 65-4 (Marsh 6, Handscomb 0)

Handscomb is mindful of what happened to his skipper moments ago, so all of his forward movements to Jadeja are exaggerated, perhaps even a little too much so. His main intention, like Marsh’s, seems to be removing his bat from the path of the ball. That carries its own dangers. This is a torrid little spell to endure before lunch. Jadeja is looking a million bucks.

5.42am GMT

31st over: Australia 64-4 (Marsh 5, Handscomb 0)

Not surprisingly given the way he bowled in his last, Ishant is granted a sixth over in this spell. In truth it can only be a let-down given the theatrics of his last, and so it proves; Marsh has one eye on the clock and only plays when he really needs to, pushing a single towards gully from the final delivery but otherwise making sure ball doesn’t meet bat. With just under 20 minutes to go until lunch, survival is the name of the game.

5.37am GMT

30th over: Australia 63-4 (Marsh 4, Handscomb 0)

What a task Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb have ahead of them here. Handscomb is encircled by close-in fieldsmen for the final five deliveries of the Jadeja over but survives some nervy times.

5.35am GMT

Jadeja clean bowls Steve Smith! Oh my word, that is a hammer blow for Australia’s chances, and their hero has departed shouldering arms, of all things. Mindful of the huge spin Jadeja was getting in the last over, Smith moves forward to one that angles in to about a leg stump line, but it spins across in front of his pad a little less than the outrageous turner of the last over and subsequently uproots Smith’s off stump. Australia are in disarray here, and Jadeja finally gets reward for a superb spell.

5.33am GMT

29th over: Australia 63-3 (Smith 21, Marsh 4)

Shaun Marsh gets an edgy boundary from the first ball he faces, but Ishant finishes a barnstorming over by angling a nasty one into the left-hander’s hip and he’s really hopping about as it thuds into him.

5.31am GMT

Ishant strikes! What a wicket this is for India as Ishant traps Matt Renshaw in front, and Ian Gould has no hesitation raising the finger. The prelude to that one was fascinating; Renshaw pulled away from the first delivery of the over, citing some kind of distraction near the sight screen. At the time, Ishant was almost into his delivery stride, so angrily piffed the ball down the pitch and Umpire Ian Gould to come in and settle a few tempers. Virat Kohli was in the thick of it, of course, and Steve Smith too when Ishant Sharma gave the Australian skipper a mouthful. Renshaw blocked the next ball and faced plenty of hostility from the big paceman in the aftermath, but Ishant then undid him with an absolute beauty.

5.23am GMT

28th over: Australia 59-2 (Renshaw 15, Smith 21)

Jadeja has 2-12 to his name as he enters his 14th over, and he rips an absolute peach of a delivery past the outside edge of Smith. To do that he came around the wicket, imparted untold revolutions on the ball to get it drifting in towards leg, and it just came screaming its way past Smith’s blade. No wicket, no run. Another maiden.

5.21am GMT

27th over: Australia 59-2 (Renshaw 15, Smith 21)

Virat Kohli stands cleaning his sunglasses now. Perhaps the sudden glare of the sun accounts for his sizeable frown, but he’s also got a worry or two as this session enters its final 40 minutes. Ravindra Jadeja has been a constant threat this morning but neither he nor the quicks have taken a wicket. The two Australian batsmen are entrenched, and very set in their disciplined approach. They’re not going to hand this to India. Time for some Ravichandran Ashwin? I think it might be.

5.14am GMT

26th over: Australia 58-2 (Renshaw 15, Smith 20)

Renshaw is really surrounded now. There is a slip, a short leg, a leg gully and a leg slip. Neither him, them, nor Wriddhiman Saha get near a vicious turner from Jadeja; the ball rears up out of the rough and flashes past the batsman’s hip for four byes. Nightmarish.

5.11am GMT

25th over: Australia 54-2 (Renshaw 15, Smith 20)

We’re back now with more Ishant and as he steams in towards Renshaw, I’ve just realised an email has arrived from the Wisden Collectors Club (yes, I am a member of the Wisden Collectors Club, and you should be too). Good news: only 18 sleeps until the new one hits the shelves. I have a custom-built shelf for all mine. It runs the length of my office, which is only slightly less sad than the collector who apparently had one built into the foot of his bed, so his precious Wisdens were never far from reach. 50 Shades of Yellow? A no-ball from Ishant takes Australia to 50, then Smith rolls his wrists over a sublime on drive to pick up four.

5.01am GMT

24th over: Australia 48-2 (Renshaw 14, Smith 16)

Kohli offers up a more regulation field with Smith on strike, which is to say there are men actually posted on the leg side, including a shortish mid-wicket and a short leg. Jadeja still aims for the rough outside Smith’s leg stump, so the Aussie skipper is content thrusting his pad at the ball in the Graham Gooch sense, as opposed to the Shane Watson sense. It works well enough in this maiden, and we’ll stop for a moment now for drinks.

4.58am GMT

23rd over: Australia 48-2 (Renshaw 14, Smith 16)

This is an absolute masterclass from Steve Smith. Any half-decent ball outside off stump he’s leaving, but when Ishant over-pitches he has no problem cracking a cover drive for two. Maybe this will go the distance after all. Smith rifles a straight drive from Ishant’s penultimate delivery, and if not for an excellent stop from the bowler it would have raced away to the rope. Renshaw defends the final delivery and avoids being on strike to Jadeja.

4.53am GMT

22nd over: Australia 45-2 (Renshaw 14, Smith 13)

One thing Matt Renshaw is doing right against Jadeja (aside from not getting out, which is obviously the optimal result) is playing with soft hands. Doing so here he’s able to angle a couple of runs to the left of Kohli at slip, but Jadeja is a nightmare to deal with on account of the footmarks outside off stump to the left-hander. Shaun Marsh will not be liking the look of this, nor Matthew Wade.

Renshaw’s faced many tests since he debuted.Doesn’t get much bigger than surviving Jadeja at that end on day 5 to try save a match. #INDvAUS

4.49am GMT

21st over: Australia 43-2 (Renshaw 12, Smith 13)

Ishant trots out to his marker now and replaces Umesh. In a lovely moment, Brett Lee reads out his Test stats under the apparent expectation that he’ll be wowed, which he is until he gets to the bowling average of 36. That’ll happen when you play more than half your Tests on the subcontinent. Smith is handling the Indian paceman first up, and continues to leave everything outside off stump, which is almost everything India bowl to him. Like Umesh before, Ishant is sending them down from wide on the crease. Unlike Umesh, he goes so wide he’s called for a no-ball. Smith finally plays at one, caressing a square drive between gully and point for two.

4.43am GMT

20th over: Australia 40-2 (Renshaw 12, Smith 11)

Renshaw continues to battle with Jadeja’s devilish wares, shuffling across to cover his off stump and then lunging forward outside the line to counter the spinner. It’s another maiden, and Renshaw continues to look like a sitting duck. Kohli has three men in close, but I’d honestly be tempted to bring in one or two more and go for the kill.

4.40am GMT

19th over: Australia 40-2 (Renshaw 12, Smith 11)

In fact Yadav gets another go, and Smith runs him down towards third man by twirling the face of his bat open and picking up two. Yadav has three slips; first, second and fourth, and keeps hanging it outside off stump, but the approach has changed a little. In a reverse tactic to that employed for Renshaw, Kohli has stacked the off side field and dared Smith to blaze away. He won’t. He’d rather bat without pads than lose out to Kohli in this game.

4.36am GMT

18th over: Australia 38-2 (Renshaw 12, Smith 9)

Wowsers. Sharp turn here for Jadeja, who rips a few out of the rough to trouble the Queenslander. “Renshaw is finding a way,” says Michael Clarke, being very kind. India are expecting a breakthrough from nearly every delivery of this threatening over, but the left-hander somehow gets through a minor ordeal. Jadeja is the danger man here, and we’ve said that a few times in this series.

4.34am GMT

17th over: Australia 38-2 (Renshaw 12, Smith 9)

In what might prove the final over of his spell, Umesh comes around the wicket to left-handed Renshaw. He’s still getting decent bounce and carry, so there are two slips and a gully in place. The bowler gives Renshaw nothing to work to leg, and he’s happy to either leave the wide ones or dab defensive strokes towards the cover when the line is tighter. So far so good for Australia.

In the eight overs last night Australia missed or edged 26% of deliveries; in the eight overs today they have missed or edged 16%. #IndvAus

4.30am GMT

16th over: Australia 37-2 (Renshaw 11, Smith 9)

Jadeja has a slip, a silly point and a short mid-off for Steve Smith. The Indian spinner offers his normal impeccable control, but not a prodigious amount of spin in this over so Smith is pressing forward to play confident forward defensive strokes and it ends up an uneventful maiden.

4.27am GMT

15th over: Australia 37-2 (Renshaw 11, Smith 9)

Ishant is enthusiastically clapping Umesh as he prepares to charge in, but you sense he wouldn’t mind a trundle himself if he was honest about it. Umesh plus away outside Steve Smith’s off stump, but the Australian skipper is setting himself for the long haul, and won’t touch it unless he has to. He picks up a late single to retain the strike.

4.24am GMT

14th over: Australia 36-2 (Renshaw 11, Smith 8)

Kohli’s left cover entirely open while Jadeja is bowling to Renshaw. The latter opens the face to run a couple of runs past gully, but he’s resisting the temptation to try and flay one through the gap. Danger lurks in the form of the footmarks out side his off stump, which are giving Jadeja the kind of sharp turn which did for Warner last night. The younger opener watchfully defends for the rest of the over. He hasn’t set records on this tour, but it’s been a mighty impressive first trip to India from the 20-year-old.

I want nothing more today than for Glenn Maxwell to break the fastest Test century record in the process of saving a Test. #Maxwellball

4.20am GMT

13th over: Australia 34-2 (Renshaw 9, Smith 8)

Umesh continues to Smith, whose run-making has now attained a Pacman-style monotony. The Indian paceman changes up his approach in this over, delivering from roughly the same position in the crease as last over but sending some through straighter outside off stump, to try and coax Smith into a loose stroke. It never comes, and he’s happy to see off a maiden.

4.17am GMT

12th over: Australia 34-2 (Renshaw 9, Smith 8)

Smith’s really picking on Ravichandran Ashwin here, again clipping a single wide of mid-wicket to get the ungainly fieldsman charging out to his right for the stop. He’s a magnificent bowler and a very sturdy Test batsman, Ashwin, but if all you had to prove it was his running style, you’d have a very tough time convincing cricket agnostics he was an elite athlete.

4.14am GMT

11th over: Australia 33-2 (Renshaw 9, Smith 7)

Renshaw’s far more comfortable against the pace of Umesh, and neatly tucks a single through square leg when the paceman strays onto his hip. Umesh zooms his next one down from wide on the crease, angling it in towards Steve Smith’s middle stump, then produces a carbon copy, then errs with a sloppy short one. Smith swivels back and pulls it around the corner for one, though slightly better placement would have had it humming to the fence. Renshaw flinches out of the way of a very well-directed bouncer to finish the over. I’ve probably said it a few times, but if India win this series, Umesh Yadav will have played a central if understated role in the result.

4.10am GMT

10th over: Australia 31-2 (Renshaw 8, Smith 6)

The temptation would have been to wheel Ishant into the fray with some pace, but Kohli sticks with Jadeja. He’s got a short leg, a leg gully and a leg slip in place for the left-handed Renshaw, who has his work cut out for him in a probing over. He gets a nervy single off the fifth delivery but he’s also a little ruffled by the spinner.

4.07am GMT

9th over: Australia 30-2 (Renshaw 7, Smith 6)

Umesh Yadav has been a quite industrious manufacturer of breakthroughs this series and he’s given another run while the ball still has some shine left on it. Smith is alert to every run-making opportunity, and gets off the mark by whipping the paceman off his legs for two to deep mid-wicket. In basketball they talk of defensive player applying pressure with “active hands”. Smith does it with “active feet” – always shuffling around to open up scoring opportunities and throw the bowler off his line. A few balls later he almost beats Ashwin at mid-on, but the gangly spinner tumbles to his right; he’s about as graceful as a fridge falling down a flight of stairs, but he pulls off the save. Smith hits his mark with the final delivery, which is driven past Murali Vijay at extra cover and runs away for four.

4.02am GMT

8th over: Australia 24-2 (Renshaw 7, Smith 0)

Having removed Nathan Lyon with the second delivery of last night’s final over, Ravindra Jadeja has four more balls left to start us off today. The first is sent down to Steve Smith, who leans right forward and blocks the ball as a silly point, slip and short gully pile the pressure on him. A few balls later he tucks a leg bye around the corner, and Matt Renshaw gets an inside edge trying to drive through the covers. The ball ends up at mid-on. Not entirely convincing, that one.

3.59am GMT

We’re a few minutes from the first delivery now

“Steve Smith needs to play the innings of his life if Australia are to get out of this one,” says Ravi Shastri, which is some kind of expectation to place on one guy, even if he did last for 361 deliveries in his undefeated first innings masterclass. “We would have liked a few more runs in the first innings,” says Australian batting coach Graeme Hick, stopping by soon after. “I think the boys have got a hard day in front of them today.” He’s not pulling any punches, and says plenty of Australia’s first innings dismissals were “soft”.

3.44am GMT

The pitch: I haven’t had a close look yet, but let’s be honest, it’s all about the choice between the heavy roller and the light roller.

The light roller out before the final day at JSCA. The interrogation of Australia’s batsmen resumes in 20 minutes. #INDvAUS

3.36am GMT


Hello all and welcome to day five of the third Test in Ranchi, which might well be the end of Australia’s pursuit of their first Border-Gavaskar Trophy win since 2004. It’s looking gim, I’ll be honest. They resume at 23-2 after the dismissal of David Warner and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon late last night, and they’re still 129 runs short of making India bat again. Can Steve Smith fix his gaze on Virat Kohli, channel every ounce of spite in his body and deliver yet another remarkable innings? You couldn’t bet against him. But it will be a struggle.

10.23pm GMT

Russell will be here shortly, giving you time to remind yourselves of how we got to this point:

Related: Australia under pressure after India dominate day four of third Test

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Mar 18

Pujara century keeps India in the hunt in Ranchi – as it happened

  • India 360-6 at stumps on day three of the third Test against Australia
  • Che Pujara and Pat Cummins the stars on an absorbing day in Ranchi

11.48am GMT

One more thing: here is the report from that gripping day of cricket in Ranchi.

Related: Pujara century defies Cummins and Australia on third day in Ranchi

11.25am GMT

31 overs in the final session of the day, the hosts taking 57 runs and Australia claiming two wickets. On the face of it, advantage Australia. And maybe that is the case. In the first hour Hazlewood brought back a beauty into Nair’s stumps and Cummins’ short ball was too hot for Ashwin to handle.

But when the hosts needed to consolidate, they did. Pujara was a model of true and pure patience today. Six hours at the crease. His 11st Test ton came along the way. He rests having faced 328 balls. Imagine having that concentration?

11.15am GMT

130th over: India 360-6 (Pujara 130, Saha 18). Last over of the day. Hazlewood it is. Saha does well, keeping him out with the ball darting back towards his stumps. It’s a maiden, and that’s our lot. I’ll step back and wrap things up shortly.

11.13am GMT

129th over: India 360-6 (Pujara 130, Saha 18). O’Keefe’s final over of the day. First ball, a rare boundary with Saha lapping behind Wade. Bold at this time of day, but fair play to him. Another single comes from a push. Appropriately enough, Pujara faces the last couple. These two have really gone at it after tea. And appropriately as well, the batsman isn’t tempted. Big, frugal shift for O’Keefe. Time for an ice bath.

CPujara now has 11 Test centuries and 14 fifties. The only other player with that record is Australia’s Dean Jones. #IndvAus

11.10am GMT

128th over: India 355-6 (Pujara 130, Saha 13). Hazlewood has to continue with the difficult task of provoking a mistake from Pujara. Good luck with that. Defending, defending. Then ducking with calm when the inevitable short ball comes. A single tickled when the bowler is a bit too straight. Saha is forced to take his bottom hand off the bat when pushing the final delivery. But he’s in as well now. Hard to see where Australia finds something before stumps now. Two overs to come. O’Keefe to get the penultimate one. His best pen, yeah?

I can’t finish the day without at least dropping this tweet in. The original (before this) drove so much nonsense chat this afternoon. And sure enough, it is rubbish. Remember that when someone is YELLING AT THE MOON on social media about it later tonight. Painful.

11.03am GMT

127th over: India 353-6 (Pujara 129, Saha 12). A single down the ground for Saha to begin O’Keefe’s over reduces Australia’s lead to double digits now. Pujara then uses the pace of the ball to reflect him from round the wicket around the corner for another. Saha defends the rest from O’Keefe’s penetrative line.

Pujara’s innings – absolute class. Perf example of mind over matter. Can do with picking up a thing or two. #IndvAus #whitenoise

11.00am GMT

126th over: India 351-6 (Pujara 128, Saha 11). It has been a crawl in this final session for India, but they have reached 350 now, and by the end of the over reduced the deficit to an even 100. Important milestones on the way to hauling down Australia’s 451. Hazlewood less potent this time around, Saha cutting, Pujara flicking then turning, then Saha gliding. Five from it, the ‘keeper retaining the strike.

This is 5th Pujara Test innings of 300+ balls

206* (389) v Eng
135 (350) v Eng
204 (341) v Aus
125* (317) Today
159 (306) v NZ

10.57am GMT

125th over: India 346-6 (Pujara 125, Saha 9). O’Keefe to Pujara. How often has that been the case this session? He’s back over the wicket of late, abandoning the negative line approach. So that’s something. And it helps to generate the necessary angle to beat him outside the off-stump. I bolded that to note how infrequently that has occurred today. The rest are, predictably, defended.

10.53am GMT

124th over: India 346-6 (Pujara 125, Saha 9). Pujara on the cusp of batting the entire day. He’s well behind 300 balls faced. Australians won’t need reminding the 204 he made in this corresponding series four years ago at Hyderabad. By the over, his longevity from here will determine who finishes with a first innings lead. One through cover vies Saha three Hazlewood balls to view. The first strikes him on the thigh guard coming way back into him off the seam. Or maybe some reverse? Good bowling. Then he ducks out of a pacy short ball. Nothing wrong with that approach from the Aussie quick, who will be desperate to eek out another scalp before the close. Six overs left, so he’ll probably get three of them. Looks Australia’s most likely.

10.49am GMT

123rd over: India 345-6 (Pujara 124, Saha 9). Round the wicket to Saha goes O’Keefe, but he gets off strike down the ground. Pujara takes a single to end the over, keeping the strike. Good batting. Not much else to see here.

10.45am GMT

122nd over: India 343-6 (Pujara 123, Saha 8). Hazlewood replaces Cummins from the Northern End. The obvious call, but the right one. Big Josh got it very right after tea, breaking through with a serious piece of bowling to Nair just when he looked set to do some damage. He has a wonderful record of getting on and bowling a maiden, which is the case here. Pujara leaves the first four balls from a tidy enough channel then defends the final two. Eight overs to go, so we’ll be running a bit overtime in case you have plans. Because I know that the OBO is enough to prevent you tending to life outside the world wide web.

Leading Shield run-scorers this season. Next time Hilton Cartwright gets picked for Australia lets hope it’s for his batting, not bowling.

10.39am GMT

121st over: India 343-6 (Pujara 123, Saha 8). O’Keefe gets smashed over mid-off early in the over by Saha for a welcome boundary. Nice use of the feet. Defending the rest, though. He’s had plenty of work today and a lot of it wouldn’t have been fun outside the leg stump trying to bore Pujara out. Might be time for Lyon to spice things up through to the close.

10.37am GMT

120th over: India 339-6 (Pujara 123, Saha 4). Oh, I was wrong. Cummins goes again. This must be the sixth of this shift for him, and the 25th of the innings. It’s all defence from Pujara. As it has been for so much of his epic stay. Oh, until Cummins drops short, when he carves past point for a boundary. Lovely shot. The Aussie quick is surely spent by now. He repeats the dose in that direction, but behind point where the sweeper Lyon tidies up, keeping it to one.

10.31am GMT

119th over: India 333-6 (Pujara 117, Saha 4). How will O’Keefe change up to Saha? Well, to begin he is around the wicket again. That’s not for nothing. But the new man sweeps well to get his account underway with a boundary. O’Keefe won’t mind that either, though. Defines defines the rest of the set.

I hope Cummins is going to be sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber overnight

10.29am GMT

118th over: India 329-6 (Pujara 117, Saha 0). Cummins again. Reckon this will be his last of the day, unless they get right into the tail. Saha isn’t that comfortable when slightly short, into his body. A bouncer follows, predictably, but he can’t get anything on it. It’s a leave/hook. A bye turns the strike over. Pujara ducks in a more convincing fashion when Cummins bounces him too.

10.25am GMT

117th over: India 328-6 (Pujara 117, Saha 0). O’Keefe holds up this end of the bargain. It’s not pretty, giving Pujara only balls to kick then push at, as he has got a solid 45 minutes now. But maybe that is the plan? Keep him down there, wear down his concentration. See what happens down the other end? Not a bad ploy while Cummins is racing in.

10.23am GMT

116th over: India 328-6 (Pujara 117, Saha 0). Pat Cummins. “Gee, it has been worth the wait,” says Pete Lalor on the radio call. Not wrong. You just cannot fault this bloke. Saha has a decent job ahead of him too now. 40 minutes (well, 14 overs) to stumps. Has to be there at the end.

And how about this? In my politics days we called that a Killer Fact.

Short balls by Cummins this innings

19 balls, 3 runs, 3 wickets #INDvAUS

10.17am GMT

He has gloved it! The slighest movement on the technology, and Ashwin will have to go. Umpire Llong confirms this after several reviews, Umpire Gaffney raising the finger. Ashwin isn’t thrilled with this, but it looks a pretty clear verdict from what the TV showed. More to the point, Cummins has done it a third time today. And has three of his four wickets from short balls that the Indians just haven’t handled. Superb bowling. India remain 123 behind Australia with four wickets in hand. It’s been real graft for the visitors today, but they have again given themselves a chance of a first innings lead.

10.15am GMT

REVIEW! Has Cummins got Ashwin’s edge from a bouncer? We will see. Umpire Gaffney doesn’t think so. Steve Smith wants to find out. Stand by.

10.13am GMT

115th over: India 326-5 (Pujara 117, Ashwin 1). Guess what? Sokka v Pujara. Outside leg, kicking away. To be fair, he beat him first up with one that really spun. But that’s the exception in this stoush. He has a couple of slips and a short leg, but the very set century maker won’t budge. When needing his bat, he defends.

Pat Cummins nearly takes a screamer off his own bowling! #INDvAUS

10.10am GMT

114th over: India 326-5 (Pujara 117, Ashwin 1). Ashwin drives the first ball after the refreshment, but Maxwell makes a good stop. Dropped catch! Didn’t necessarily look like it, but Cummins hit Ashwin’s inside edge, onto his pad it went, then balooned. The bowler put in a huge dive! But not to be. Hand doesn’t quite get to it. A quarter chance.

OBO favourite Phil Withall writes me. Thanks Phil. Shit week for the OBO family, so it’s nice to hear from you. “Looking at Cummins pitch map for the innings I suspect it is as close to perfection as a fast bowler could get. The variation in line and length must just sow the seed of caution into the batsmans minds. Adds another layer to a wonderfully absorbing series.”

10.03am GMT

113rd over: India 326-5 (Pujara 117, Ashwin 1). Struggling to work out the plan here with O’Keefe and Pujara. Test of strength? Battle of wills? Either way, it is the batsman who wins this time when the spinner overpitches with a fully, Pujara making no mistake. A should for leg before ends the over as they walk to drinks, but it is hopeful at best. Pujara has been there 278 balls. And half way through the final session, India are 125 behind.

Contrary to what I would have thought Kohli’s had four runs as bad as this one he’s in right now:

10.00am GMT

112nd over: India 322-5 (Pujara 113, Ashwin 1). Cummins has it hooping. That’s some reverse. Ashwin shows the full face, but requires the inside edge to prevent it hitting pad or stump. But he gets more confident as the over progresses. Cummins will probably only get through three or four at this stage of the day. Ashwin will know that as well. Maiden it is.

9.56am GMT

111st over: India 322-5 (Pujara 113, Ashwin 1). Fascinating struggle between O’Keefe and Pujara. Neither giving an inch. The bowler will, without question, land every ball outside leg. The batsman will, without question, kick him away. The bat required only once. How long will this last?

Hilton Meanwhile in the Shield, Cartwright has responded as well as he could to being left out out of this tour. Good on him.

Congrats Hilton Cartwright 170no today for the waca third score in a row 90+ most in form player not in the test team @White_Adam @sb_tang

9.53am GMT

110th over: India 322-5 (Pujara 113, Ashwin 1). Hazlewood has been replaced by Cummins, his job done. He was mighty in that middle session. Ashwin, surely aware of the exposure new to the crease, is happy to run the first ball behind point for one and get out of the firing line. But a Pujara single to mid-off puts him straight back there. Ashwin has bat and pad close together though, even if the ball isn’t yet hitting the middle of the willow.

9.49am GMT

109th over: India 320-5 (Pujara 112, Ashwin 0). Right. O’Keefe immediately swung back into the action from the southern end. And is right on his spot to Pujara from the over the wicket line he has been disposed to for much of the innings. He is able to kick away four of the deliveries. Plenty of patience from the bowler to persist and the batsman not to give into temptation.

9.45am GMT

108th over: India 320-5 (Pujara 112, Ashwin 0). Hazlewood really earned his entry in the book. Couldn’t have done a lot more when called on today, as is routinely the case. In the nick of time with that partnership moving, albeit slowly, to 44. Nair was just putting the foot down a bit and could have gone most of the way to eliminating India’s deficit by the close. Now, they have to start again. Ashwin gets the no. 7 job ahead of Saha this time around. He’s forced to defend the final delivery after Hazlewood sprays the first chance he gets at the Indian master spinner.

Karun Nair has got out to three pretty decent balls in this series

9.41am GMT

Hazlewood gets one more over and delivers, slipping through Nair’s gate with a ball that really hoops off a length. Superb bowling to get by and castle the Indian no. 6. When they nearly ran him out last over Smith’s men must have wondered if he would still be there at stumps. It isn’t to be, Nair on his way. Australia have plenty yet to do, but they have more than a sniff of a first innings lead.

9.38am GMT

107th over: India 320-4 (Pujara 112, Nair 23). Lyon to Nair. This is getting a bit familiar now, reflected in the latter sweeping crisply for a couple. The first time we’ve seen him do that after tea (disregarding the reverse he whipped out). But he then nearly runs himself out! Who takes on Glenn Maxwell? He’s bursting in from midwicket, where a single is taken, but the Australian doesn’t hit at the non-strikers end. A bit man bites dog about that sentence – he never misses. Oh, and Nair was well gone too. That could be the half chance they needed. India are now 131 behind Australia’s 451.

9.35am GMT

106th over: India 317-4 (Pujara 112, Nair 20). Slow going in the middle, and not much going on in the stands. Another typically warm day out there, a strong swirly breeze making it harder again for all involved. Hazlewood lets Nair off the hook at the first time of asking this over, running him off the face of the bat to third man for a single. Pujara, who hasn’t faced for a few overs, defends the full deliveries and let’s a shorter one pass. No issues for him out there. One from it.

Ian Watkins has dropped me a line thanking Mel Farrell for the “utterly lovely video” that I posted a couple of overs back. “It shows a whole new side to the county’s road system that I had not seen.”

9.30am GMT

105th over: India 316-4 (Pujara 112, Nair 19). Nair is well forward to Lyon, negating the added spin the Aussie offie seems to be getting after tea. But he slips with the last ball, cut for one. Nair again retains the strike.

All the deliveries that the Australian spinners have bowled in this innings have been there stock balls. #INDvAUS

9.28am GMT

104th over: India 315-4 (Pujara 112, Nair 18). Hazlewood gets a crack at Nair this time. He looks solid in defence and competent when leaving. Easily forgotten that he really looked the goods on the opening day in Bangalore before getting out. And made a triple ton a couple of months ago. A single dabbed down behind point keeps him the strike and ruins the bowler’s maiden.

Email in from Bryant Howie. He says nice things about Geoff and my podcast. I won’t repeat them here, but thank you. “Wondering what the general feeling is there at the moment being a journalist. Aussie media being compared to pack of dogs yet no one is really coming out to strongly suggest this is false. It is not like you guys to be passive when your integrity is questioned. From where I sit, the level of contradiction on these matters must be mind boggling.”

9.22am GMT

103rd over: India 314-4 (Pujara 112, Nair 17). Lyon races through an over at Steve O’Keefe pace. Nair used the crease to shuffle the first ball around the corner for a single. Pujara was on the look-out to score, but couldn’t through the middle portion of the set. He then throws out the front pad without a shot, exciting the Australians. But, nah. Oh, an overthrow to end it. One to mid-on becomes two when the throw is awry and Wade doesn’t collect. I assume the bounce throw was to rough the ball up for the reverse swing they relish. The price you pay.

9.17am GMT

102nd over: India 311-4 (Pujara 110, Nair 16). Big Josh Hazlewood goes again from the northern end. No wickets for him through 22 overs this innings. But he hasn’t done a lot wrong. Pujara again happy to play him with a dead bat into the ring throughout, letting a couple go as well. Only one slip in place now with the second new ball now into its own 22nd over. Softly, softly start to this session from both sides. A maiden, I should add.

Quick shout out. Those who followed the OBO on the final session of day one would remember the shocking time I was having with the wifi in the press box. Made for a more belt-and-braces commentary than I prefer. I relayed this to a good man named Subrato Karmakar, who worked his arse off to get me a decent connection. And here we are. Thank him for the embedded tweets and timeliness of updates.

This is the approach to the JSCA stadium with our awesome driver, Moin. #INDvAUS

9.11am GMT

101st over: India 311-4 (Pujara 110, Nair 16). Lyon gets one to turn back through the gate! Misses everything; Nair’s bat, pads, Wade’s gloves. Four byes gets India away for the session. Oh, and the Indian no. 6 follows it with a reverse sweep! The pluck! The over settles into a more familiar Lyon-shaped groove thereafter before Nair takes one out to the sweeper at midwicket to finish the set and keep the strike. On the last over’s appeal, technology confirms the decision on the field was right to both turn it down and not to review.

9.08am GMT

100th over: India 303-4 (Pujara 109, Nair 13). You will notice a subtle shift between Geoff and myself. He chooses to drop a line down between score and commentary. Let’s call that the Australian method. I was told by UK OBO doyen James Dart to do it this way. In case you were wondering. I know you probably weren’t. Cricket? It’s on now. Hazlewood vs Pujara is the match up in the first instance. The Aussie quick does what he does, immediately in his special area just short of a length. Che has been out there so long now that he doesn’t find it hard. But a shout last ball? Down the legside. An edge? Hazlewood likes it. Umpire Gaffney says no. ABC’s Dirk Nannes on the radio reckons the bat was a long way from the pad when the ball went past. Anyway, no review. It’s futile. It’s the over. It’s a maiden. Welcome back.

Meanwhile in the Sheffield Shield. This is really nice. Played, Adam. One of the legit good guys.

Guard of honour from the blue baggers as Voges walking out for bat…. #ThanksVogesy

8.57am GMT

Thank you, Geoffrey. Excellent as always. I don’t quite share your pessimism from an Australian perspective. From where I’m sitting at the southern end of the ground at Ranchi, I reckon the tourists would be quite content with how that played out. Only the two wickets in the session, but both the captain Kohli and his deputy Rahane now back in the sheds. India remain 148 behind Australia’s first innings 451. Let’s just shake the cliché jar and say it is delicately poised.

Of course, Pat Cummins was integral to all that. He encouraged a drive from Kohli that wasn’t there moments after taking the second new ball. When swung around to the other end he immediately prompted Rahane attempt a high-risk parry a bouncer over the ‘keeper. Neither ended well for hosts. The Aussie quick looks every bit the Test attack leader in his first start for nearly six years. Great story.

8.45am GMT

The home team’s efforts to hunt down the Australian total continue apace. Australia’s bowlers are tiring, and it could be in India’s power to really apply the grind here. Or, it’s going to take a couple of bits of bowling brilliance to bring the visitors back into the match. Your narrator for that next chapter will be Adam Collins, love him as I have loved you.

8.42am GMT

99th over: India 303-4 (Pujara 109, Nair 13)

Last over before tea, and there’s very little chance that Pujara will do a Vijay and get stumped just before a break. Both batsmen work Lyon around for a couple of singles, it’s all pretty comfortable stuff. The 300 comes up.

8.38am GMT

98th over: India 299-4 (Pujara 107, Nair 11)

Maxwell burns through another over of spin, another couple of singles from the first two balls. He’s bowling around the wicket though, and Pujara is content to kick the rest away. Maxwell varying his pace a lot this over, using his limited-overs tricks in Test cricket. It’s worked for Patrick Cummins.

8.35am GMT

97th over: India 297-4 (Pujara 106, Nair 10)

Junk time, leading up to tea. O’Keefe keeps Karun Nair quiet for five balls, but the one that drops short is crashed through point for four.

8.33am GMT

96th over: India 293-4 (Pujara 106, Nair 6)

The clamour of the people has been heard. At last, at long last, the people’s man will rise. Off breaks, around the wicket. It’s not a bad over, lands a couple, just a couple of singles.

8.30am GMT

95th over: India 291-4 (Pujara 105, Nair 5)

Nearly caught! Karun Nair is averaging 10.75 in innings where he doesn’t made a triple-hundred, and that nearly comes down as he plays a lazy drive through cover. It splits the shot catcher and the wide mid off. Gets a single, then Pujara drives a full ball straight down the ground for another four. O’Keefe of late taking a battering.

8.26am GMT

94th over: India 281-4 (Pujara 100, Nair 0)

Cummins first ball is a misshapen wide cutter, but his second is gorgeously driven through the covers by Pujara for four. That’s the first century for an Indian batsman this series, and his 11th in 47 Tests. It’s been an admirable knock, plenty of resilience, was so patient yesterday then gradually expanded his range today, and has now batted for more than a full day of play. Salutes, then blocks out the rest of the over in true Pooj style.

8.21am GMT

93rd over: India 277-4 (Pujara 96, Nair 0)

O’Keefe just has Pujara in the gun, firing them down. Takes him five balls to get off strike, then a final dot to Nair.

8.19am GMT

92nd over: India 276-4 (Pujara 95, Nair 0)

A wicket maiden, as Karun Nair comes to the crease. The future of Indian cricket, said the British press after his triple hundred. Currently has five Test innings, 346 runs, with 303 of those in that unbeaten knock against the Three Lions.

8.17am GMT

Cummins to get ya! The comeback boy gets his third, and it is a bizarre dismissal. Cummins bangs in a wild bouncer, way over Rahane’s head. Rahane reaches up, trying to get an uppercut on the ball. He loses control of the shot completely, ending up with one leg up in the air behind his back, as though his springtime love has just embraced him in a meadow. I call that pose the Hello Sailor. Done to perfection. Gets a feather on the ball, no more, and Wade takes the most important interception of the last few overs. 3 for 45 for Cummins from 18 overs.

8.12am GMT

91st over: India 276-3 (Pujara 95, Rahane 14)

I’m sad to announce the demise of Australian cricket. Things are falling apart out here. First, a full toss from O’Keefe that Pujara walks at with great deliberation, a la the original Terminator lurching out of that truck fire, and clubs down the ground. Then, a dart fired way down leg and Wade misses it again, four more byes.

8.07am GMT

90th over: India 268-3 (Pujara 91, Rahane 14)

Here’s my theory then. It’s keeping low with pace. Cummins has produced a few shooters, and here’s another, keeps low, but the line is well down leg. Wade jumps but can’t clean it up, gloves it away for four byes through fine leg. Cummins is still trying the short stuff. The batsmen are able to work it for singles. Pull, glide. A defensive shot and a leave to finish the over.

8.04am GMT

89th over: India 262-3 (Pujara 90, Rahane 13)

A quiet Lyon over for a couple of singles. Pujara hits the 90s.

8.01am GMT

88th over: India 260-3 (Pujara 89, Rahane 12)

Now Cummins is back? You might be able to make these bowling changes rhyme, but it’s hard to find any reason. He sends down one that keeps low, still the odd variable in this pitch. It will presumably become more pronounced as we go along. The batsmen work a couple of runs, then Rahane is nearly bowled off the bottom edge, trying to force Cummins square with a flinching defensive shot. Pace doing him that time. But the ball bounces over the stumps, as Cummins half raises an arm in celebration, then has to retract the statement.

7.54am GMT

87th over: India 256-3 (Pujara 86, Rahane 11)

A couple of runs from the Lyon over, as he works away relentlessly on the pads. Patience is the only way through on this wicket.

7.52am GMT

86th over: India 254-3 (Pujara 85, Rahane 10)

As soon as I say it, Josh Hazlewood sends down a bit of a loose over. An easy ball for Pujara to knock away for a couple through midwicket, then a few singles. Then Rahane gets a short one and hooks. It’s off the top edge, but he knows he has a lot of room out behind square leg. There’s no one there for the shot. So it sails safely away for another four runs. India starting to cash in.

7.44am GMT

85th over: India 245-3 (Pujara 81, Rahane 5)

The new Pujara continues. Newjara? The new Australian spearhead does not. Cummins off after two overs with the new ball, including a wicket, after having bowled three overs in the first session. Weeeeeiiird. But Lyon’s back, and Che slashes off the thick edge for four to third man. Then Rahane comes down the wicket and creams the wider ball through cover. India rolling along, nearly past the follow-on, Pooj eyeing a hundred, and that is the state at drinks.

7.38am GMT

84th over: India 237-3 (Pujara 75, Rahane 1)

A quieter over from Hazlewood, just the single from it as he works around the off stump. Reliability, thy name is…

7.36am GMT

83rd over: India 236-3 (Pujara 76, Rahane 1)

The Pujara transformation continues. First, Cummins fires one down leg side, and the batsman gets a fine touch on it. Matthew Wade flies, but can’t get glove to it. Would have been a blinder. Did you know he has more stumpings in India than any Australian wicketkeeper? Interesting. Can’t stop the boundary though, not with normal human arms. Then Pujara cracks another through point, and no one is stopping that.

7.30am GMT

82nd over: India 226-3 (Pujara 66, Rahane 1)

Hazlewood follows up with a beauty. Beats the edge, takes the edge, takes the pad, sends a snorting bouncer down. Rahane survives it all, but this is top-class new-ball bowling.

7.27am GMT

81st over: India 226-3 (C Pujara 66, Rahane 1)

Physical comedy time. What an eventful over. New ball. First Cummins serves up a rank full bunger on the pads, and Pujara creams four through midwicket. Then, Pujara hits a smooth three behind square. But it’s only three runs as Maxwell puts in an incredible dive, saves a single, scoops the ball back just inside the rope, and flies over it to land int a forward roll. he comes up holding his shoulder, wincing, before breaking into laughter. Mimicking Virat Kohli. It seems just for fun, not in bad sportsmanship, but perhaps it distracts Kohli nonetheless, and more importantly it gets him on strike. Cummins gets him next ball, then Rahane ticks a single square.

7.20am GMT

Huge moment! The new ball, and Cummins strikes. Kohli’s horror run against the Australians continues. Pure pace, it was really a half volley outside the off stump, but the speed did for Kohli. Couldn’t resist the length, had a big drive, and that ball very nearly drilled through Steve Smith and hit the fence with his sternum still wrapped around it. Smith was knocked over backwards with the force of the ball, but managed to cling on in the fall. Exhilarating stuff, and there in a moment is the rationale for the Cummins selection.

7.16am GMT

80th over: India 218-2 (Pujara 59, Kohli 6)

The Lyon over the last before the new ball, and it’s another boundary for Pujara. Down the wicket again, and again classily along the ground straight. His eighth.

7.12am GMT

79th over: India 211-2 (Pujara 54, Kohli 5)

Some negative stuff now from the Australians, field spread, O’Keefe landing outside leg stump and Pujara kicking away. Comes back around the wicket partway through the over. keep them guessing? It’s working for me. Who has a good read on these tactics. It’s a maiden, O’Keefe’s sixth.

7.09am GMT

78th over: India 211-2 (Pujara 54, Kohli 5)

Double spin attack, another couple of singles as Kohli continues to accumulate without trouble.

7.08am GMT

77th over: India 210-2 (Pujara 53, Kohli 4)

O’Keefe breaks the speed of sound getting through an over for a Kohli single through square.

7.07am GMT

76th over: India 209-2 (Pujara 53, Kohli 3)

Kohli playing the classic wristy slap-drive against Lyon for a single. If he’s doing that comfortably, then he’ll be ok for the innings. He doubles down on that shot after Pujara hands him back the strike.

7.03am GMT

75th over: India 206-2 (Pujara 52, Kohli 1)

Four! Pujara sees an O’Keefe delivery he likes the look of, whips across his pads and hits it cleanly through a vacant square leg. Then again! Who is this masked man, and what has he done with Cheteshwar Pujara? This time the monk charges the bowler, drives through cover. Are there any monks out ther renowned for drinking, brawling, sacking cities, doing amazing martial arts? Must be. Let me know. Exquisite shot, and the 200 is up, along with Pujara’s minor milestone.

6.59am GMT

74th over: India 198-2 (C Pujara 44, Kohli 1)

Kohli is moving pretty freely against Hazlewood. Faces out a maiden, but he’s positive in defence, moving well to the ball, driving it without issue.

6.51am GMT

73rd over: India 198-2 (C Pujara 44, Kohli 1)

Kohli looks comfortable enough as he works a single. Pujara blots out the rest of the O’Keefe over.

6.50am GMT

72nd over: India 197-2 (C Pujara 44, Kohli 0)

Hazlewood to Pujara, who clips the first ball beautifully for four. He’s looking good. Reverts to his monkish defence mode for the next five balls, broken only by a decidedly unmonkish break when he loses a contact lens.

6.43am GMT

71st over: India 193-2 (C Pujara 40, Kohli 0)

It is Kohli. O’Keefe finishes the over from before lunch, with a couple of defensive strokes the result.

6.35am GMT

The big question is whether Kohli will bat as listed at No4. Rahane was padded up last night to come in if required, but Kohli has had an extra night to recover now, and has apparently been comfortable enough in the nets.

6.13am GMT

Thank you again Russell, as ever rolling out the red carpet to yours truly to enter the fabled land of the OBO. How huge that last wicket is. Every time you think you know how a Test is going, something can turn in just a second. Please do drop me a line as the next session goes on, via the email on the left or via the idiot machine using @GeoffLemonSport.

6.05am GMT

What a mad ending to the session. That’ll be it for me today, but Geoff Lemon will be stopping by shortly to take you through the post-lunch arrival of Virat Kohli. The situation: Australia have no reviews left and will have to wait nine overs to have them restored, so the stage is perfectly set for some kind of controversy. Kohli has already been involved today – sarcastically clapping Australia’s burnt review. What would you rather be doing with your Saturday than absorbing this brilliant cricket? India bossed that session, but Murali Vijay threw it all away on the stroke of lunch. I for one can’t wait to see what happens next.

6.02am GMT

A miracle! Steve O’Keefe gets Vijay! Well I must say, that is one nobody saw coming. Vijay skips down the track to the spinner – who’d been labouring a little late in the session – but misses the ball by a country mile in his attempt to blaze one over cow corner. He’s stranded miles out of his crease and Wade makes no mistake with the stumping. Holy moly. What was Vijay thinking?

5.59am GMT

70th over: India 192-1 (M Vijay 82, C Pujara 39)

Hazlewood has two shortish mid-wickets in place for Pujara but with a lack of movement in with a full one, he’s pasted for another straight boundary as the batsman cashes in. Much drama follows: Hazlewood digs in a short one and the Aussies think Pujara has gloved it to short mid-wicket, but it’s clearly come off his arm guard. There is also half a run-out chance, and a spirited LBW shout against Pujara, but amid much commotion India carry on their merry way and the 100-run partnership comes up. The tourists wouldn’t beat Pujara in a game of Connect 4 right now. Hazlewood has thrown the kitchen sink at him in this over and got nothing to show for it.

5.54am GMT

69th over: India 185-1 (M Vijay 82, C Pujara 33)

Is Matthew Hayden calling Sunil Gavaskar “Sunny Boy” in an attempt to incite him to violence? As you ponder that, ponder the reasons why Steve O’Keefe has just been brought back into the attack for more of the same treatment from Murali Vijay. Again the latter gets down on one knee and belts a slog sweep over the top for four. I could have told you that would happen, Smudge.

5.49am GMT

68th over: India 180-1 (M Vijay 78, C Pujara 33)

Tighter stuff here from Josh Hazlewood, but there is something inevitable about Murali Vijay’s impending century. I don’t say this a lot, but I think I’m with Michael Clarke in this instance:

2x overs from @Gmaxi_32 before lunch? He is a wicket taker!

5.45am GMT

67th over: India 178-1 (M Vijay 77, C Pujara 32)

Party time now for Vijay. He dances down the wicket to Lyon and slams the spinner over the head of the man at mid-off to pick up four more. Even his edges are bringing him runs. Lyon doesn’t drop his bundle, and keeps plugging away, but all the momentum is with the batsmen at present.

5.41am GMT

66th over: India 173-1 (M Vijay 72, C Pujara 32)

Not surprisingly, Steve Smith now tells O’Keefe to cool his jets for a while and brings Josh Hazlewood back into the attack for one more spell before the break. Pujara cuts him late with expert placement to pick up two, and he does even better a few balls later when he batters a superb on-drive to the fence. That fizzed off the bat. Lunch can’t come quick enough now for the tourists. Hazlewood mightn’t want to come back out if there is more treatment like that on the way.

5.36am GMT

65th over: India 167-1 (M Vijay 72, C Pujara 26)

Lyon is swept in a more conventional sense now by Vijay, who moves into the 70s at the same time as his partnership with Pujara does. The batsman is expertly ratcheting up the tempo as this first session wears on and clubs two more out to deep square leg with another sweep. Steve Smith has some thinking to do here.

5.33am GMT

64th over: India 161-1 (M Vijay 66, C Pujara 26)

We’ll have half an hour more before lunch on day three, but the Indian batsmen are starting to assert themselves on this after that period of inactivity. Now Vijay gets down on one knee and thumps an authoritative slog-sweep over the top for a boundary. Time for a bit more Josh Hazlewood? Or more importantly, some Glenn Maxwell off-spin? You know it makes sense.

5.29am GMT

63rd over: India 154-1 (M Vijay 60, C Pujara 25)

“I wonder how Virat Kohli is feeling up in the dressing room,” asks Brett Lee, though his employers refuse to replay the Indian captain’s outburst of a few overs ago, when he sarcastically clapped Australia’s failed review after bursting through the dressing room door to stand the balcony. “He’s such a class player,” purrs Lee. He’s right, but he’s also a master provocateur. I almost wish Australia and India would play a Test series every year the way this one is panning out. Maiden for Lyon, and finally a replay of Kohli’s clap. He’s cricket’s greatest villain at the moment. Brilliant stuff.

5.26am GMT

62nd over: India 154-1 (M Vijay 60, C Pujara 25)

You can say what you like about Steve O’Keefe’s bowling, but what is indisputable is that he’s able to tie up an end at the very minimum, and it’s making me wonder whether Nathan Lyon wouldn’t actually mind taking these pitches and his bowling partner all around the world with him. It’s very good “partnership bowling” from the Australian spinners, and today they’ve been backed up by the miserly pacemen.

5.24am GMT

61st over: India 153-1 (M Vijay 60, C Pujara 24)

Another big appeal by Lyon to start this over, when Pujara skips forward and pads one to short leg. His bat was nowhere near it though and Ian Gould knew it. Still, there is action aplenty as Handscomb and leg slip David Warner firmly believe they’re only moments away from snaring a catch. Nathan Lyon’s angular spin is certainly posing problems for both batsmen but at the same time they’re finding runs a bit easier to come by. Apparently Australian Twitter is going mad about that Pujara LBW review, suggesting it was out. If so, I need my glasses checked.

5.21am GMT

60th over: India 151-1 (M Vijay 59, C Pujara 23)

I dunno about you, but I think it’s a little bit brilliant that Australia will now go 20 overs without a review in their pocket, because Virat Kohli might stride to the crease in that time. Scenes. Back in the middle, O’Keefe sends one through a little quicker to Vijay and he turns it dangerously off his pad to pick up one around the corner. If he’d missed that one he would have been salmon trout.

5.18am GMT

59th over: India 149-1 (M Vijay 58, C Pujara 22)

Well, well, this game is really heating up now. In the wake of Virat Kohli’s bizarre appearance from the change rooms, Australia have a big appeal against Vijay for a bat-pad catch but when it’s turned down they can’t refer it. They’re out of reviews! This match is well and truly awake now.

5.15am GMT

58th over: India 149-1 (M Vijay 58, C Pujara 22)

O’Keefe also has slip, short leg and leg slip encircling Pujara, with Matthew Wade behind the stumps. Three men and a b… Anyway. This is much better from India. They milk singles off each of the first three deliveries, and Pujara shuts up shop. There is drama from the final delivery when AUSTRALIA CALL FOR A REVIEW, but it was so obviously an inside-edge into the pad from Pujara I’m surprised they bothered. Not out. Australia have burned a review and VIRAT KOHLI APPEARS ON THE BALCONY TO LOUDLY CLAP! Holy moly, the Indian captain is a bit rich here; he hasn’t been out there since mid-way through day one, now he’s trying to get involved from the stands.

5.09am GMT

57th over: India 146-1 (M Vijay 56, C Pujara 21)

Pujara almost cracks one past the man at wide mid-on to start the second half of the first session, but a fine stop by the fieldman there keeps it to one. With Pujara back on strike Lyon has a slip, a short leg and a leg slip, so the batsman basically knows what to be alert for and defends stoutly. Pujara just strengthens and strengthens with every delivery he faces.

5.02am GMT

56th over: India 144-1 (M Vijay 55, C Pujara 20)

O’Keefe has a slip and a very short mid-off for Vijay, but promptly angles a dart down the leg side to be turned for one and then bowls too far towards leg so that Pujara gets another single to mid-on. Otherwise the left-armer is asking questions, but Pujara blocks it out until drinks.

4.59am GMT

55th over: India 142-1 (M Vijay 54, C Pujara 19)

It’s a tad surprising that Pat Cummins’ spell has ended at three maiden overs, but Steve Smith tosses Nathan Lyon the ball now so we’ll have spin from both ends for the first time today. Lyon is really turning it and getting some bounce in his first over, too. The other highlight: Michael Clarke’s pronunciation of Murali. I don’t think I can do it justice with a phonetic translation. Mew-rah-leee? He gets a single but nothing else.

4.55am GMT

54th over: India 141-1 (M Vijay 53, C Pujara 19)

Vijay finally gets going again, working O’Keefe off his legs for a couple of runs, then getting off strike with a quite loose drive. O’Keefe is liking what he sees here; after a period of becoming bogged down, Vijay is now a contender to do something silly.

4.53am GMT

53rd over: India 138-1 (M Vijay 50, C Pujara 19)

Mindful of his partner’s stodgy approach, Pujara is attempting to disrupt Cummins’ line a little by getting forward a bit further to drive, but Cummins has more dots than a Dalmatian today. He’s not swinging it, and he’s rarely looked like producing an out-and-out wicket ball, but he’s produced three maidens on the trot. Pressure continues to accrue.

4.47am GMT

52nd over: India 138-1 (M Vijay 50, C Pujara 19)

“India are getting themselves bogged down here,” says Michael Clarke, and his exasperation works a treat; Pujara immediately sends a lovely, wristy flick through mid-wicket for a boundary. The only person who didn’t enjoy it was Peter Handscomb, who almost copped it on the chin at short leg. Pujara runs through for a bye too. He’s going mad. It’s T20 stuff now.

4.45am GMT

51st over: India 133-1 (M Vijay 50, C Pujara 15)

“This is like watching mud dry,” says reader Ken Robson, and I can sort of grant him that point. These sorts of dour periods are part and parcel of Test cricket in India, of course, but it’s certainly not inspiring stuff. Nathan Lyon is so bored he’s started bantering away with umpire Ian Gould. Maiden for Cummins, and I think I’ve got the song for the moment.

4.41am GMT

50th over: India 133-1 (M Vijay 50, C Pujara 15)

Finally Vijay gets his milestone out of the way, working a single to bring up his half-century from 121 deliveries. Pujara continues to pay respect to O’Keefe’s wares, but by the end of the over India have scored only 13 runs from the first 10 overs of the day; six of them came off one lofted drive from Vijay. They’re in this for the long haul, but they really need to start working more ones and twos.

4.38am GMT

49th over: India 132-1 (M Vijay 49, C Pujara 15)

Hazlewood does indeed take a rest now, and taps Pat Cummins into the fray as he does. Like his team-mate, Cummins is looking to tail them in late to the right-handers or keep one low. Or both. Vijay has a look at him first up but there are not many scoring opportunities on offer, so it’s another maiden. Australia continue to tighten the screws and Vijay has been stuck on 49 for a while now. He really needs to start turning the strike.

4.32am GMT

48th over: India 132-1 (M Vijay 49, C Pujara 15)

The most compelling sight early in this O’Keefe over is that of Peter Handscomb diving forward from short leg almost before the ball has left Che Pujara’s bat. The fourth delivery is a beauty, and spins prodigiously past the batsman’s outside edge, beating him all end’s up. Pujara glances to fine leg to keep the strike. O’Keefe is in a nice little rhythm here.

4.30am GMT

47th over: India 131-1 (M Vijay 49, C Pujara 14)

Hazlewood gets one more over, or at least I assume it will be his last. He’s covering the whole ball on his approach to disguise the reverse swing, but Pujara stands there like the cat in a second-hand book store, staring down everything that approaches him and expending minimal energy until he turns one to fine leg for a single. Hazlewood uses the final delivery to thump one into Murali Vijay’s back as the batsman takes evasive action. That might bruise.

4.25am GMT

46th over: India 130-1 (M Vijay 49, C Pujara 13)

At the start of this over Steve O’Keefe is scuffing his foot on his landing spot with a vigour that suggests he’s drilling down for oil, but there is no gold for him at the other end of the pitch. Vijay isn’t exactly relaxing – and he’s caught by surprise by one off-break that lifts and hits the splice of his bat – but he plays out a maiden without too many troubles. At least Australia are drying up the runs here. That is pressure of sorts.

4.22am GMT

45th over: India 130-1 (M Vijay 49, C Pujara 13)

Hazlewood continues and manages to tail one in a little to Vijay, who flicks towards mid-wicket but not without risk. He’s off strike with a dab towards gully and the Haze tries a bumper to Pujara, but the ball only rises like Muggsy Bogues attempting a slam dunk. Pujara’s hip is in more danger than his head.

4.18am GMT

44th over: India 129-1 (M Vijay 48, C Pujara 13)

That bloke in the full body paint waving the Indian flag is the most active individual in the arena in this Steve O’Keefe over, in which Pujara deferentially defends and never looks likely to come out of his shell. His powers of concentration and patience are his great asset.

4.14am GMT

43rd over: India 129-1 (M Vijay 48, C Pujara 13)

The start of the Hazlewood over is delayed by our 8,000th sight screen disturbance of the series, and I’m with Sanjay Manjrekar on this; batsmen need to toughen up a bit in instances where the movement is coming from beside the screen. They’re bloomin’ huge. Get over it, guys. Sunil Gavaskar sides with the batsmen, of course. Hazlewood is neat and tidy to Pujara, who is ever-alert to that low shooter. Four balls in we have another sight screen disturbance. This is utterly absurd, and Hazlewood is within his rights to give the batsman a bit of stick when he gets off strike by fending a bouncer to leg. I’m sure some cricket will break out soon.

4.09am GMT

42nd over: India 128-1 (M Vijay 48, C Pujara 12)

In fact we get spin straight away, as Steve O’Keefe steps up to the plate and gets turned down to fine leg for a Pujara single. Of note: Hazlewood kept one a lot lower than I’d realised with the last ball of the previous over, which is in stark contrast to the huge, lofted drive Vijay spanks over the fence at long-on now. It looks as though he’s going to try and hit O’Keefe out of the attack. I’m surprised India hasn’t done a bit more of that in this series.

4.06am GMT

41st over: India 121-1 (M Vijay 42, C Pujara 11)

OK, we’re off and away on day three. Hazlewood chugs in to Pujara and draws the Indian No3 forward with a typically nagging line and length. He’s got two slips but no gully in place, which seems about right. We’ll probably see a few overs of the pacemen and then a quick introduction of spinners Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe. Pujara gets moving with a single, and second slip moves to about 3.5 for Murali Vijay.

3.58am GMT

We’re a few minutes from play now. “60-40 to Australia,” says Ravi Shastri of the match status, though his segment was recorded for the purposes of Australian TV viewers and might not have mirrored exactly what he said on the Indian feed. He reckons Australia need quick wickets today. I reckon most of us would love to have his job.

3.52am GMT

Meanwhile, at Allan Border Field…

Queensland recovered from here, relatively speaking. They’re just been bowled out for 61, falling to an innings loss in Chris Hartley’s final game for the Bulls. Somewhat fittingly, the champion keeper (unluckiest man not to play for Australia in the last 15 years? Probably) top-scored with 18. Tailender Cameron Gannon was the only other Queenslander to reach double figures and James Pattinson ended up with 5-7 from six overs. Remarkable. Victoria will now host the Sheffield Shield final. Sort of. Alice Springs it is.

To recap so far today….#QLDvVIC

3.48am GMT

The pitch

“That is where you will find a little bit of a problem for the batsman,” says Sunny Gavaskar, pointing at the rough outside the leg stump of the right-handers. Still, he’s not too perturbed by what he’s seeing, and seems as though he might quite like throwing the pads on himself today. “It’s still a pretty good pitch to bat on,” he says, “other than the odd ball that will keep low.” The strip is certainly still in decent nick. I think there will be a few journalists holding off on pitch appraisals in the lead-up to the fourth Test.

Day three #INDvAUS

3.43am GMT

The man with the golden arm?

Maybe not, but I still want to see it.

Steve Smith rolling the arm over this morning. A few leggies could be handy with the foot marks outside the right hander’s leg stump.

3.43am GMT


Hello all and welcome to day three of the third Test at Ranchi, which has so far confounded pessimistic expectations of the pitch. In actual fact, batsmen have had the best of it, and India will resume today at 120-1 in reply to Australia’s first innings of 451. The stories of the day yesterday were Glenn Maxwell’s maiden Test century, the continuation of Steve Smith’s otherworldly form, and the return to Test bowling ranks of Pat Cummins – now almost six years on from his last appearance in the baggy green.

12.40am GMT

Russell will be here shortly. In the meantime, check out Barney Ronay’s ode to Shakin’ Steve Smith.

Related: Numbers still stack up for fidgety Australia captain Shakin’ Steven | Barney Ronay

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Mar 17

India fight back on day two of the third Test against Australia – as it happened

  • India 120-1 at stumps on day two in Ranchi
  • Australia post 451 in their first innings
  • Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell make centuries for Australia

11.41am GMT

Here’s your match report:

Related: Third Test evenly balanced as India build following Steve Smith masterclass

11.16am GMT

After Australia prospered this morning, India fought back in the afternoon and evening to leave the third Test beautifully poised.

451 is an imposing total but Australia’s attack looks a tad popgun without Mitchell Starc on a placid surface that’s offering very little to either Nathan Lyon or Steve O’Keefe. KL Rahul batted well for his 67 until he was undone by Pat Cummins’ persistence. Murali Vijay and Che Pujara will resume at the crease tomorrow.

11.06am GMT

40th over: India 120-1 (Vijay 42, Pujara 10)

Final over of the day to be bowled by O’Keefe. A few teasers are thrown up, but Vijay, sans helmet, or cap, knocks them away.

11.04am GMT

39th over: India 120-1 (Vijay 42, Pujara 10)

Vijay’s waited until the opening delivery of the penultimate over of the day to reveal one of the shots of the innings, driving Lyon off the front foot for a glorious four through mid-off.

10.59am GMT

38th over: India 115-1 (Vijay 37, Pujara 10)

As the shadows stretch the width of the romantically named JSA International Stadium Complex, Josh Hazlewood puts his shoulder to the wheel once more. Two slips and a short leg wait for Pujara but the batsmen ignores them all, drilling an on-driven full toss for four.

10.56am GMT

37th over: India 111-1 (Vijay 37, Pujara 6)

Vijay brings up his Cowan ton of 100 balls faced with a single as Lyon continues his angle from around the wicket to the right-handers. The bowler’s line and length are spot on, but there’s just not much happening off the surface to make the batsmen jump like they did in Bengaluru.

Stumps not far away on day two with the Aussies searching for the second wicket… #INDvAUS

10.51am GMT

36th over: India 109-1 (Vijay 36, Pujara 5)

Hazlewood replaces Cummins as Smith maintains pace at one end but this pair now seem happy to see off the day. An up and down maiden leaves little to describe.

10.47am GMT

35th over: India 109-1 (Vijay 36, Pujara 5)

Better from Lyon, troubling Vijay from around the wicket. First almost jagging an LBW review, ended by Gunner Gould telling the bowler the batsman hit the ball, and the second an uppish push that could have gone to short leg.

10.43am GMT

34th over: India 107-1 (Vijay 35, Pujara 4)

Cummins extends his spell to six overs. Sports scientists throughout Australia hold their breath. He can’t repeat his trick of his previous over though, but nor does he breakdown. Presumably that’s his lot for today though, and an excellent shift it’s been. 10/22/1

10.37am GMT

33rd over: India 105-1 (Vijay 35, Pujara 2)

Lyon brought back for another dart but he begins expensively. Vijay sweeps three fours in the over, the third a precise lap, the second a beautiful flat drive beyond square leg, but the first was a streaky top-edge that could have gone anywhere.

It’s been a long, long time between Test wickets for Pat Cummins and didn’t he enjoy this one! #INDvAUS

10.32am GMT

32nd over: India 93-1 (Vijay 23, Pujara 2)

Cummins backs up his wicket ball with a testing opener to Pujara, full and straight. On the money for the rest of the over too. Hard not to smile at the celebration of a man so cruelled by injury for so long. Well done young man. Spell of five overs one for six. Just what his country required with little happening for the spinners.

He’s back!
Cummins breaks Thru with a Bouncer
Mixing up length and pace here
India 1/91#IndvAus

@JPHowcroft Botham’s Shakespearean alter ego wd be either Sir Toby Belch or maybe Stephano. I’m sure the latter’s subservience rules it out

10.30am GMT

Breakthrough for Australia! Cummins’ hard work has paid off. A slower shorter delivery climbs on Rahul and he can’t drop his gloves in time as it chases him inside the line, feathering a simple catch behind. Terrific reward to the young fast bowler for a wholehearted spell.

10.28am GMT

31st over: India 91-0 (Rahul 67, Vijay 23)

Rapid straightforward maiden from O’Keefe.

10.25am GMT

30th over: India 91-0 (Rahul 67, Vijay 23)

Bravo Pat Cummins. On a lifeless surface he’s bending his back and searching for every available advantage, banging the ball in and forcing the batsmen to rear uncertainly, throwing in some cross-seamers, slower balls, and finally a yorker that provokes a strangled cry for LBW.

10.20am GMT

29th over: India 89-0 (Rahul 66, Vijay 23)

“Niiiiice Socky!” has replaced “Niiiice Garry!” as Matthew Wade’s cry of choice. Although it does make me think he’s cheering on a sock-puppet, not an international cricketer.

@JPHowcroft David Boon as Bill Sykes in Oliver. Slightly more intimidating than Oliver Reed

10.18am GMT

28th over: India 84-0 (Rahul 61, Vijay 23)

Cummins bowling a white-ball over, mixing his line, length and pace to keep the batsmen honest. It’s a smart tactic, denying the set batsmen any surety in their strokes. There’s little threat though, especially short of a length, although the final delivery, a slower one, does catch Vijay on his glove after spitting off the pitch.

10.12am GMT

27th over: India 83-0 (Rahul 60, Vijay 23)

O’Keefe’s turn again, but turn is not apparent for the left-armer as straight bats push away an over containing little threat and two singles.

Really pleased to announce a great new signing for @guardian_sport: @marthakelner is to join us as chief sports reporter.

10.09am GMT

26th over: India 81-0 (Rahul 59, Vijay 22)

Cummins begins the final hour of play in just his second first-class game since 2011. Not much doing out there though with dry lines outside off stump making for soporific cricket.

10.06am GMT

Gwynfor Jones wades into the Test thesps chat while players take drinks.

Farokh Engineer- Falstaff, Ashton Agar- Romeo, Kevin Pieterson- Mercutio, Rob Key- Bottom, Geoffrey Boycott- Titus Andronicus.

10.04am GMT

10.03am GMT

25th over: India 80-0 (Rahul 59, Vijay 21)

India have retreated for a few overs with the pacemen in tandem, sensing Cummins and Hazlewood are the dangermen for Australia. Or maybe not. Rahul enjoys a briskly run two from a push to wide third-man to break the shackles and he then steps neatly inside an in-swinger angled down the leg-side to glance four more. This partnership becoming very problematic for Smith.

@JPHowcroft Nathan Lyon looks a bit like Yorick.

9.57am GMT

24th over: India 74-0 (Rahul 53, Vijay 21)

Cummins returns for his second spell of the match with four deliveries on the money before his fifth, a slower ball, comes out a drifty full toss that earns Rahul a single. Not the same swing on offer as with Hazlewood.

Love to see Pat Cummins bowl a @Liam628 spell and bowl around the wicket armpit length!#IndvAus #aggressive

@JPHowcroft After an all-time great innings, Smith is captaining like a schoolboy. Too defensive, missing opportunities, failing his bowlers

9.52am GMT

23rd over: India 73-0 (Rahul 52, Vijay 21)

Hazlewood continuing with the early-over inswingers and Vijay decides to honour them this time, playing away a maiden.

9.47am GMT

22nd over: India 73-0 (Rahul 52, Vijay 21)

Lyon from around the wicket and Vijay peels off a paddle sweep over his left shoulder with all the insouciance of a falconer inviting a Golden Eagle to perch on his forearm. Rahul ups the ante with a sweep so whippy his wrists were at risk of overtaking his hands. That boundary brings up another excellent 50 for KL Rahul, his fourth in five digs this series.

9.44am GMT

21st over: India 68-0 (Rahul 48, Vijay 20)

Hazlewood getting some dangerous reverse swing both ways. Three full in-duckers have both right-handers jamming down on their toes at the crease and then an away swinger finds Vijay’s edge but it dies as it skcuttles through the cordon for a fortunate four.

9.40am GMT

9.39am GMT

20th over: India 61-0 (Rahul 42, Vijay 19)

Lyon to persist with his new line of attack around the wicket but with only two close catchers and some nimble shot-placement and running, both Rahul and Vijay continue to prosper. The latter picks up four with a thick edge beyond the solitary slip but the shot was on.

9.36am GMT

19th over: India 55-0 (Rahul 41, Vijay 14)

Important moment half an hour into this session with Hazlewood recalled to the attack. Straight away he’s on the money, probing Vijay’s pads with a hint of reverse in-swing. David Warner is working hard on the ball to make sure any possible movement is maximised, but it’s Vijay making the ball move in the middle of the over, dispatching an overpitched delivery to the cover boundary.

9.31am GMT

18th over: India 51-0 (Rahul 41, Vijay 10)

Lyon switching around the wicket to the right-handers now and with that change comes some extra bounce and turn. Finally a little bit of encouragement for Lyon. Nothing much comes of it this over, but something to build from.

9.27am GMT

17th over: India 49-0 (Rahul 40, Vijay 9)

Reinforcing my earlier point, the host broadcaster reminding viewers that when England were here recently they scored 400 in their first innings twice and contrived to lose. Another routine over of innocuous O’Keefe deliveries and calmly placed singles.

9.24am GMT

16th over: India 46-0 (Rahul 38, Vijay 8)

Vijay much more circumspect that his partner, keeping Lyon at arm’s length for most of the over, but even he unfurls a rapidly swishing sweep to advance his score. India picking off Australia’s length here, knowing they’re unlikely to be beaten by turn or bounce. Back to the seamer’s soon you’d expect.

9.21am GMT

15th over: India 44-0 (Rahul 37, Vijay 7)

As O’Keefe continues his toil the old adage about judging a surface only after both sides have used it comes to mind. 451 is clearly a decent total for Australia but this pitch contains few demons. As if to prove it Rahul scores on both sides of the wicket off front foot and back.

9.18am GMT

14th over: India 36-0 (Rahul 30, Vijay 6)

Another over with little to report for either side. Rahul’s premeditated sweep further illustrates his security at the crease, but also the limiting effects of his shoulder injury.

9.16am GMT

13th over: India 35-0 (Rahul 29, Vijay 6)

Tidy maiden over from O’Keefe, probing a fullish length outside the right-hander’s off stump. Not much has misbehaved so far though making life sedate for India’s openers.

9.13am GMT

12th over: India 35-0 (Rahul 29, Vijay 6)

India happy to sweep Lyon away for the time being, milking singles at will while Australia wait for the ball to deteriorate sufficiently to become helpful to Hazlewood and Cummins.

9.10am GMT

11th over: India 32-0 (Rahul 28, Vijay 4)

First false stroke since Tea with O’Keefe prompting Rahul to edge just wide of the solitary slip. This fast outfield sees the insult of four runs added to the bowler’s injury. Otherwise it’s slow turn and not much bounce for O’Keefe, meaning the batsmen can play comfortably from the crease.

9.06am GMT

10th over: India 26-0 (Rahul 23, Vijay 3)

Spin from both ends as Nathan Lyon has a dart. Not a lot on offer from either Australian slow bowler so far. India’s openers work a couple of singles to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

9.03am GMT

9th over: India 24-0 (Rahul 22, Vijay 2)

Back underway in Ranchi with Steve O’Keefe charged with the first over after Tea. He’s coming around the wicket to the right-handed Rahul and after nudging a few deliveries back down the pitch the batsman rocks back in his crease and controls a square drive for four. Excellent resumption from India.

9.00am GMT

During the tea interval the Australian TV feed is recalling the tied Test of 1986 with Allan Border.

Not many people know that Dean Jones vomited during his innings of 210.

8.54am GMT

Thank you very much Mr Lemon.

A fascinating final session in prospect with Australia pushing for an early breakthrough and India desperate for the top-order partnership they need to creep their way back into the Test match.

8.44am GMT

That’s the break, India starting solidly enough in reply to Australia’s impressive total. In honesty, this pitch looks like it still has plenty of runs in it. Geoff Lemon out, and I don’t know if tones can be dulcet in the written form, but if they can then JP Howcroft will be the man to deliver them. I’ll leave you in his voicebox.

8.41am GMT

8th over: India 20-0 (Rahul 18, Vijay 2)

Cummins arriving at the end of his usual T20 spell. Not bad for a fourth T20 over, it only costs him 9 runs. The first a cover drive, the second a classic T20 edge through third man, and Rahul the batsman profiting from both. Then a single through cover, a final leave from Vijay, and that is tea.

8.36am GMT

7th over: India 11-0 (Rahul 9, Vijay 2)

Do you know what I love? Fast overs of left-arm spin. Steve O’O’O’Keefe is going to bowl one, at least, before tea. Around the wicket, wheeling in, those grenade lobs that he employs to begin a spell. A couple of singles driven, that’s all.

8.34am GMT

6th over: India 9-0 (Rahul 8, Vijay 1)

Finally a shot with some fluency. In the air, but Rahul uses Cummins’ pace as he flicks off his pads. Between Marsh at short leg and Lyon at midwicket, and four. More quick stuff from Cummins follows, up past the 90 mile mark at points. Can’t deny it’s exciting. The question is can it last?

8.29am GMT

5th over: India 5-0 (Rahul 4, Vijay 1)

The struggle is real. Another Hazlewood over for just a run, this coming again from the short ball, pulled by Rahul. Tight stuff.

8.25am GMT

4th over: India 4-0 (Rahul 3, Vijay 1)

Cummins is giving this his all. Might as well, with the new ball and not much time to use it. Puts some real venom into the bouncers, and even his shortest ball is up at 87 miles per hour. The only runs come from Rahul’s gloves, as he flinches away from a short ball and could have been caught anywhere.

8.21am GMT

3rd over: India 3-0 (Rahul 2, Vijay 1)

Hazlewood doing that thing that he does. Beating the bat on the inside edge, hitting Vijay too high to be leg-before. Then beating him on the outside edge, through into Wade’s gloves. Eventually Vijay escapes the examination by pulling a short ball. Rahul adds a run of his own on the other side of the wicket.

8.18am GMT

2nd over: India 1-0 (Rahul 1, Vijay 0)

Yes indeed. Pat Cummins last bowled in Barack Obama’s first term in office. Or Nick Fredriksson’s more charming comparison below. His first over back (Pat’s, not Nick’s) is a good one. Mid 140 km/h range, useful line, a couple of shorter ones. It’s a maiden, as Rahul plays with caution.

@WhiteLineWire Pat Cummins’ previous Test match was closer to the redefining of Pluto as a dwarf planet than to today.

8.12am GMT

1st over: India 1-0 (Rahul 1, Vijay 0)

Hazlewood to start with the new ball. Nearly a run out first ball, as KL Rahul goes on a mad dash after driving to mid-on. O’Keefe misses. Vijay leaves, defends.

8.01am GMT

137.3 overs: Australia 451-10 (Smith 178)

Steven Smith, not out at the end, what an innings from the captain. He’s equalled his longest ever knock, at 361 balls faced, and his fourth-highest in terms of runs. Third-highest score in Asia by an Australian captain, as well, after Greg Chappell’s 235 and Mark Taylor’s 334. He’s remained calm, batted deep, and made India work for a day and a half in the field. That’s an imposing first-innings score to try to get past, and it’s going to be a question of whether India’s batsmen can reciprocate in terms of patience and pressure. No one is going to smash their way to supremacy on this surface, but it will reward those with a longer view.

7.57am GMT

He is the specialist at being run out at the non-striker’s end for nought, and Hazlewood does it again. It was Smith’s call, he flicked a single away behind square from Jadeja’s third ball, wanted to get back for the second, but the throw was good enough. Jadeja gathers it in front of the stumps and underhand flicks it back into the timber just ahead of Hazlewood’s bat reaching its ground.

7.49am GMT

137th over: Australia 450-9 (Smith 177, Hazlewood 0)

One wicket to fall. Hazlewood in, and Smith is clearly not too confident. He tries to murder the first ball from Yadav through cover, misses. Then drives the next into the deep but doesn’t take the single. The field well back. Same goes for the third ball. Takes the single from the fourth, after driving it into his pad from the inside edge. There is no one within cooee, and the bowler cleans up his own work. Comes round the wicket to the left-handed Hazlewood, but he survives the last two full-pitched balls.

7.44am GMT

136th over: Australia 449-9 (Smith 176)

Jaddu gets five-for. So dangerous in these conditions, so good against Australia. Lyon scores his sole run from the outside edge, but a couple of balls later the next edge goes to the man in close on the off side to end the over.

7.41am GMT

135th over: Australia 446-8 (Smith 174, Lyon 0)

Yadav celebrates the wicket by falling over as he tries to bowl his second ball at Lyon. Does an accidental leprechaun heel-click and goes rump over breast. Comes up smiling at the end of a dramatic forward roll. Lyon survives the next couple of balls.

7.36am GMT

Geological eruption! Yadav bangs in the short ball, there’s good pace on it. He’s conjured that from somewhere deep in his molten core. O’Keefe can’t resist the hook shot, and it carries down to long leg for a routine take. That’s O’Keefe’s Test highs core, and he’s lasted 70 balls. Useful stuff.

7.33am GMT

134th over: Australia 445-7 (Smith 173, O’Keefe 25)

Ashwin wheels on. This is screaming in the face of eternity. He is tiring, bowling some wide stuff, and the batsmen work three runs. This slow accumulation. Does a rock feel pain as centuries of water erode it?

7.30am GMT

133rd over: Australia 442-7 (Smith 171, O’Keefe 24)

Yadav carries on. Too wide, Smith is able to drive a single. Yadav is getting some reverse though now. Gee, he’s good. O’Keefe is watchful, waits out the rest of the over.

7.24am GMT

132nd over: Australia 441-7 (Smith 170, O’Keefe 24)

Ashwin still operating over the wicket, spinning the ball as much as he can in towards the right-hander’s pads and gloves. Smith waits back on a couple,t he comes forward to drive a single. He’s worked these spin bowlers supremely through this innings. It has been an absolute study in concentration. He’s just equalled his second-longest innings at 346 balls.

7.20am GMT

131st over: Australia 440-7 (Smith 169, O’Keefe 24)

Another misfield. India beginning to tire. It’s been a long slog. Karun Nair lets the ball through at cover for a single. O’Keefe has a couple of short midwickets, and slams the ball off his pads straight at one of them. Yadav sticking to the classic stump-to-stump theory. Then O’Keefe gets a short one to close the over, it sits up nicely and he clouts it away on the pull shot for four.

7.16am GMT

130th over: Australia 435-7 (Smith 168, O’Keefe 20)

Another Jadeja maiden, he’s going at 2.5 an over, which is expensive for him and cheap for everyone else.

7.15am GMT

129th over: Australia 435-7 (Smith 168, O’Keefe 20)

Pace. Sigh of relief for the fingers of the world’s live bloggers. Umesh Yadav is back. Smith drives a run into the covers. O’Keefe plays the classic tailender’s ‘glide’ to third man. Smith gets one that barely gets off the pitch, that’s interesting, this pitch has the possibility to become very difficult alter with some variable bounce. He gets a run after squirting the rushed defensive shot away. O’Keefe gets one too far to leg side and is able to dink it away. Four singles from the over.

7.08am GMT

128th over: Australia 431-7 (Smith 166, O’Keefe 18)

Nailed it! O’Keefe gets some width from Jadeja and pounds the cut shot for four.

7.05am GMT

127th over: Australia 426-7 (Smith 165, O’Keefe 14)

So nearly gone! The Smith single to start the over was regulation, but then Ashwin turns one into O’Keefe. The batsman stabs at it, it takes the inside edge, into the thigh pad, over the middle bail, and eludes the wicketkeeper’s gloves. Four runs.

7.03am GMT

126th over: Australia 421-7 (Smith 164, O’Keefe 10)

Jadeja stays left-arm over the wicket. It takes Smith four balls to get off strike this time. A big shout against SOK next ball, but it’s hitting bat first as it strikes him in line.

7.01am GMT

125th over: Australia 420-7 (Smith 163, O’Keefe 10)

Ashwin bowling, and Smith ticks a single through square, before O’Keefe advances and slots one straight down the ground for a much more convincing boundary then his last. I bet he congratulated himself in the third-person tense after that.

6.58am GMT

124th over: Australia 415-7 (Smith 162, O’Keefe 6)

Shot! Steve Smith on-drives Jadeja from a leg-stump line. Four runs to start the over. Tickles a single. O’Keefe is getting a lot of balls pitching outside leg stump, and kicks them away.

6.57am GMT

123rd over: Australia 410-7 (Smith 157, O’Keefe 6)

Missed! O’Keefe slashes at Ashwin outside off, thick edge, and it goes just over the cap of a crouching Rahane at slip. The stand-in captain had no chance to even see that before it was past him, I’d suggest. But I’d bet Kohli is still spitting chips.

6.53am GMT

122nd over: Australia 406-7 (Smith 157, O’Keefe 2)

Variations on a theme. Now the Smith single comes through a misfield in close on the leg side. Then O’Keefe gets a run! Irish parties around the world light up. More so because it came off an edge, through a vacant gully, where a catcher had been stationed just a ball or two earlier.

6.50am GMT

121st over: Australia 404-7 (Smith 156, O’Keefe 1)

And again, except this time the single is from the third ball. Smith’s live average is now 61.20. What even.

6.48am GMT

120th over: Australia 403-7 (Smith 155, O’Keefe 1)

Identical over bar the arm of the bowler. Jadeja delivering it. Smith drives the second ball down the gorund for one, O’Keefe is the blotter for the rest.

6.45am GMT

119th over: Australia 402-7 (Smith 154, O’Keefe 1)

Single to Smith to long on. Steven O’Keefe, the most appropriate Australian player to be commenting about on St Patrick’s Day, will really kick things off after lunch with the bat, and Ashwin with the ball. We know O’Keefe can play long, he was part of the incredible 8-161 partnership with Peter Nevill in Pallekele last year. Blocks out four balls with studious intent.

6.39am GMT

As ever, you can drop me a line – and please do take up that option, even if I’m lost in a whir of Jadeja overs and furious keystrokes. The email is over in the sidebar, and the Twitter whatsit is @GeoffLemonSport.

6.25am GMT

Hello friends and sports fans, thanks Russell for the last session. What a treat we have ahead of us. This is the series that just keeps giving. Steven Smith is a cyborg, that’s the only explanation for it. Glenn Maxwell is pure excitement, even in defence.

6.23am GMT

Meanwhile, in New Zealand…

What is this?

6.07am GMT

One final observation before Geoff Lemon steps in to the OBO chair…

India have been conservative with Virat Kohli’s injury and given the below details, that’s smart.

India have confirmed with the match officials that Kohli’s injury is external so he doesn’t have field before batting anywhere. #INDvAUS

6.02am GMT

118th over: Australia 401-7 (Smith 153, O’Keefe 1)

And that is that for the opening session of day two, which featured Glenn Maxwell’s maiden Test century, the inevitable continuation of Steve Smith’s 19th, and a stellar bowling rearguard by Ravindra Jadeja. He’s got four wickets to this point. Sloppy outfielding helped bring up Australia’s 400 in this over, which was fitting enough. Honours slightly in Australia’s favour, in the end? I think so. They managed 102-3 in that session. That’s a win.

5.58am GMT

117th over: Australia 398-7 (Smith 150, O’Keefe 1)

Ten minutes ago Steve O’Keefe probably wasn’t expecting to be out in the middle before lunch, but that he is thanks to Ravindra Jadeja. O’Keefe pushes forward to Ravichandran Ashwin and gets a safe outside edge down to third man to get off the mark. Steve Smith then gets a single too – it keeps him on strike and helps him to his 150-run milestone. Bit of a fizzer, the celebration, but what a knock it has been. It’s taken 315 deliveries and required significant powers of concentration. His genius is almost monotonous at this point.

5.55am GMT

Jadeja gets Cummins for a duck! That’s an absolute jaffa from the spinner. He came around the wicket to right-handed Cummins, angled one towards leg and the Australian groped at but couldn’t make contact with the ball and loses the top of his off stump. A classic spinner’s wicket, that. Jadeja is now on the brink of another five-wicket bag and India are right back in the frame.

5.52am GMT

Wade departs! And rather tellingly, he does so with a forward defensive stroke. All-out attack netted him 37 from 50 deliveries – very valuable runs for Australia – but in respecting the bowling a little more he’s been nipped out by India’s best bowler so far. It was a smart take by Saha after a thin outside edge.

5.49am GMT

115th over: Australia 393-5 (Smith 147, Wade 36)

Ashwin is perhaps pushing it through a little too quick here I reckon, though he does have a couple of hundred more Test wickets than me. Michael Clarke is laying into India, saying they’re trying to save runs instead of search for wickets. He’s not too far wrong.

5.46am GMT

114th over: Australia 392-5 (Smith 147, Wade 35)

Jadeja is over the wicket to Wade and bowling from as wide on the bowling crease as the lines allow. It matters not; Wade engages in that unorthodox trot down the pitch before swiping another sweep through mid-wicket for four. He’s becoming an absolute pest for India, and now it is they who wish the lunch break would hurry up.

Genuinely thinking about bumping Glenn up a spot on my list of forty funniest cricketers after today’s first ball. #Maxwellball

5.43am GMT

113th over: Australia 386-5 (Smith 146, Wade 30)

We’re just under 20 minutes from lunch on day two and the session is really starting to slip away from India. Now Wade biffs Ashwin through square leg for four, and actually just seems to be having fun with his batting. It’s most irritating for Virat Kohli as he sits up in the changing rooms, I’m sure.

5.39am GMT

112th over: Australia 381-5 (Smith 145, Wade 26)

Every time Matthew Wade walks down the pitch and tries to sweep Ravindra Jadeja, a dog-eared copy of Don Bradman’s ‘The Art of Cricket’ spontaneously combusts. It’s a sight and a half, is what I’m saying. Still, Jadeja even rips one past the outside edge of Steve Smith in this over, and that’s not something we’ve seen very often so far. Steve O’Keefe will be liking the look of that. Smith will like the look of his partnership stats; a single here means he and Wade have shared in a 50-run stand from just 10.4 overs. Jadeja looked like running through the tail half an hour ago. Now India are labouring.

5.36am GMT

111th over: Australia 379-5 (Smith 144, Wade 25)

Ashwin finally appears! But it’s not all good for India; Wade treats him like a rental car, skipping down the track and flogging one out to cow corner for a boundary. There follow some reactionary field changes. It’s not exactly inspiring stuff from the home side. They miss Kohli like Van Halen miss David Lee Roth.

5.33am GMT

110th over: Australia 372-5 (Smith 144, Wade 18)

In lieu of any Ashwin action, Jadeja is the threat here, but even he is troubling Wade a little less than in previous overs. Wade hasn’t played himself in, has he? As you ponder that, also ponder Nicholas Jewlachow’s great shadow golf suggestion: Craig Bellamy’s goal celebration against Barcelona in 2007.

5.30am GMT

109th over: Australia 370-5 (Smith 143, Wade 17)

Still no Ravichandran Ashwin. So Umesh gets another over, and Matthew Wade gets himself another boundary by opening up the face of the bat and running one to the vacant third man region. This is real dross from Rahane and Umesh; the paceman is not looking like taking a wicket and he’s not keeping things tight either.

5.25am GMT

108th over: Australia 364-5 (Smith 142, Wade 12)

Wade is just winding the Indians up now; he and Smith get through for a three that really should have been just the two. Then the Victorian keeper plays all around a big off break, which races away for four byes. Jadeja is really bringing them in out of the rough. The expiry date on Wade’s innings appears quite close.

Virat would be going nuts over these fielding errors. There’d be rockets. #INDvAUS

5.21am GMT

107th over: Australia 356-5 (Smith 139, Wade 11)

What’s wrong with Ravichandran Ashwin? Ishant gets a rest now but it’s Umesh Yadav replacing him. Matthew Wade rejoices in his reduced risk of dismissal by hammering the paceman through cover for a crisp boundary. He’ll be loving this. Indian Twitter, on the other hand, would like a very loud word with Ajinkya Rahane about his bowler rotation strategy.

5.16am GMT

106th over: Australia 349-5 (Smith 137, Wade 6)

In fairness to Matthew Hayden, sequential replays of each of the half-dozen deliveries bowled to Glenn Maxwell before his demise provided gripping viewing a moment ago. Jadeja was forcing him back and forcing him back, and the wicket ball was just a little bit shorter and bounced a little bit more. Seeing them all on end highlighted his canny variations. He’s also conceded only seven runs in six overs today, and continues to tighten the screws on Wade. Slowly but surely, he might be turning the game.

5.13am GMT

105th over: Australia 346-5 (Smith 135, Wade 5)

Breaking: Brett Lee was wrong. The ball definitely bounced before slapping into Wriddhiman Saha’s gloves in Ishant’s last over. Why were the broadcasters so excited about it? It almost took a divot out of the ground in the end. As Ishant labours away, Matthew Hayden is talking about all of Ravindra Jadeja’s “blue balls”. I think he’s referring to pitch-map technology this time.

5.08am GMT

104th over: Australia 345-5 (Smith 134, Wade 5)

Matthew Wade is in a spot of bother here in his attempts to handle Jadeja. He’s getting a long way outside off stump to try and negate the spin coming in to him from the footmarks, but he looks like a sitting duck as he shuffles around. His brightest spot so far is the final delivery of this over, which he whips through mid-wicket for a stress-relieving boundary.

Steve Smith (134no) now has the highest score by an Australia captain in India, beating Michael Clarke’s 130 in Chennai, 2013 #INDvAUS

5.02am GMT

103rd over: Australia 341-5 (Smith 134, Wade 1)

Ishant is steaming in with plenty of energy to Wade, who gets off the mark with a drive to long on. Drama ensues when Smith sends a bottom-edge behind the wicket and it doesn’t carry to keeper Wriddhiman Saha. Or does it? Replays soon show that the Indian keeper was overly cautious to wave off celebrations. It might have carried after all! Unlucky is Ishant’s middle name at the moment. Soon after Smith flays him through mid-wicket with that signature closed-face flick. Worse: Umesh and Pujara make a hash of a regulation stop at cover and it runs away for four more. Ishant is cursed.

4.56am GMT

102nd over: Australia 332-5 (Smith 126, Wade 0)

Hmm, Matthew Wade is the new man at the crease here and he’s immediately playing an impetuous sweep and copping one to his helmet. He gets a bye for his troubles but Ravindra Jadeja has done the trick again for India, ending a 191-run stand between Smith and Maxwell.

Glenn Maxwell is 13th person to score 100 in all 3 forms of international #cricket
2nd for AUS after Shane Watson#INDvAUS

4.54am GMT

Jadeja gets the breakthrough! And with that, Glenn Maxwell’s superb stand comes to an end. The ball was short and spinning away from him, and after transferring his weight onto the back foot he was trying to punch it through cover with a straight bat, but instead feathers an edge behind to Saha. The umpire’s finger is straight up and Maxwell elects not to review. That 104 came from 185 deliveries and proved every single doubter wrong. He’s a Test-quality batsman and now the entire cricket world has to admit it.

4.52am GMT

101st over: Australia 331-4 (Smith 126, Maxwell 104)

Ishant is back into the attack now, and here’s a little more on Glenn Maxwell’s hundred: it featured nine boundaries, two sixes, and is his sixth century in first-class cricket. More pressing: India have just missed an opportunity to run out Steve Smith

Maxwell looked to be in tears as he leant over. He knows it is a moment that could very well change the rest of his life. #INDvAUS

4.47am GMT

100th over: Australia 328-4 (Smith 124, Maxwell 103)

This Jadeja over couldn’t hope to compete with Maxwell’s milestone, and so it proves, though it is a maiden. Instead let’s turn to this lovely email from Daniel McDonald.

4.43am GMT

99th over: Australia 328-4 (Smith 124, Maxwell 103)

He’s done it! Glenn Maxwell is a Test centurion! It comes from the final delivery of the Umesh over, which is short and slashed through the cordon region to pick up four runs. How else would he do it? It’s taken him 180 deliveries and gotten his side out of a spot of bother, this knock. Superb stuff. Nothing less than a very dedicated cricketer deserves.

4.38am GMT

98th over: Australia 323-4 (Smith 123, Maxwell 99)

Glenn Maxwell has…played out a maiden, though not without incident. Ravindra Jadeja reckoned his penultimate delivery had claimed an edge but he’s wrong. This is very tense.

4.34am GMT

97th over: Australia 323-4 (Smith 123, Maxwell 99)

In fact Umesh gets another over, and Glenn Maxwell is watching him like a hawk. Umesh digs one in and Maxwell thinks it’s about to whistle past his ears, but it keeps low and cracks him on the shoulder. Grimaces all round. Maxwell gets a thick edge next up and it runs down to third man for one. Oof. He’s on 99. Squeaky bum time.

4.31am GMT

96th over: Australia 322-4 (Smith 123, Maxwell 98)

Time for some spin now as Ravi Jadeja rolls his arm over for the first time on day two. For Smith he’s got a silly point, a slip, and a short mid-on. “That’s a good move by Ajinkya Rahane,” says Sunny Gavaskar – words that didn’t often pass anyone’s lips yesterday. “It’s a truly benign wicket,” adds Matthew Hayden, perhaps wanting to pile further indignity on all the journalists who claimed it would be a minefield. A maiden for Jadeja. With Maxwell on strike next over and possibly nervous about his impending milestone, you’d think Ravichandran Ashwin will be asked to have a bowl.

4.28am GMT

95th over: Australia 322-4 (Smith 123, Maxwell 98)

As Umesh continues with his third over of the day, Craig Little arrives with a truly excellent shadow-sport anecdote. “Brisbane Bears forward Martin Heffernan got caught air-golfing during a game by Robert Walls,” he says. “After the game Walls asked Heffernan if he wanted to be a footballer or a golfer and he said “golfer”, thereby ending his five-game AFL career.” Brutal.

4.22am GMT

94th over: Australia 316-4 (Smith 123, Maxwell 92)

Glenn Maxwell rubbishes the 87 hoodoo by moving to 91 with an expertly-angled dab through gully, which hits he rope and leaves man-bunned Ishant shaking his head in disgust. He didn’t delete your Soundcloud account, Ishant. Nervous 90s for Maxwell. He then plays his most Maxwellian stroke so far; a duck-hook is the only way to describe it, as he was taking evasive action as he paddled it down to fine leg. He and Ishant really should collaborate on a remix.

4.17am GMT

93rd over: Australia 310-4 (Smith 123, Maxwell 87)

If you’re worried about Virat Kohli, he’s still off the ground. If you’re worried about Paul Connolly’s state of mind, and his shadow-batting form slump, fear not. “It’s the melancholy swimming in my Irish blood what does it,” he says. “Then again, my shadow penalty shots are routinely slotted into the top right corner. Unsaveable.” Related to all this: shadow golf is just not on, I reckon. Maybe I’m revealing some prejudices here but when have you ever liked someone who shadow golfs? Back in Ranchi, Glenn Maxwell has reached 87, the so-called unlucky number of Australian cricket. So unlucky, in fact, it was the year they won a world cup.

4.12am GMT

92nd over: Australia 308-4 (Smith 122, Maxwell 86)

As expected, Ishant Sharma pairs with Yadav to begin the day and he gets the same treatment from Smith as Umesh got from Maxwell; the Aussie skipper glides him down to the vacant third man boundary when his line strays a little wide outside off stump. Ishant approaches Maxwell from wide on the crease, firing it in on a middle stump line, but Maxwell is forward and defending with Dravidesque impenetrability, then sways out the way of a bouncer. Dad joke time:

@rustyjacko Maxwell batting on a “masala” pitch: does he have the tikka?

4.06am GMT

91st over: Australia 303-4 (Smith 117, Maxwell 86)

Umesh Yadav is granted the task of bowling the first delivery of day two and it SNAPS GLENN MAXWELL’S BAT IN HALF! OK, perhaps I should temper my enthusiasm here; it was only 137 kmph and Maxwell was playing a confident forward defence when it happened. Bizarre. It was a bit like the Ryan Harris-Michael Carberry one during the 2013-14 Ashes, though perhaps far less metaphoric in its ominous qualities.

4.00am GMT

We’re a few minutes away from the opening delivery

…and The Guardian’s own Paul Connolly writes in. “I need to spend more time in the shadow nets when it comes to my shadow batting,” he says. “Keep getting inside edges onto the stumps. I blame the warped floorboards.”

3.52am GMT

The pitch

“All in all, it looks like a good wicket to me,” says Brett Lee. “This is a masala pitch,” adds Sunil Gavaskar, at which point his audio cuts out. I assume he means that in a positive sense? Who knows? What is certain is that batting first is a decent advantage in this game, and Australia are surely setting their sights on 450+. Another few hours of Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell batting and that should be a cinch.

3.50am GMT

Shadow-batting time

And there is surely no more fun thing to do in your office/living room/train carriage, is there? I’m a big fan of shadow-bowling, as well. In the two years I’ve lived in my current house, I reckon I’ve taken at least 275 imaginary wickets down the long, narrow hallway. A word of warning: always make sure the coast is clear. There is nothing worse for guests than copping the full force of your delivery stride when you’re trying to dismiss imaginary Graeme Smith. It also stops you from dismissing imaginary Graeme Smith, of course.

Maxwell shadow batting in the middle while the teams warm up around him. Play resumes here at JSCA Stadium in about half an hour. #INDvAUS

3.45am GMT

Other things to look forward to

Virat Kohli’s return? He’s warming up on the ground at the moment, but he’s also wearing Wayfarer-style sunglasses, rather than yer wraparound type favoured by most players. Casual sunglasses! Is this a sign? Maybe.

3.39am GMT


Hello all and welcome to day two of this Ranchi Test between Australia and India – the match that might decide this series. Russell Jackson here to take you through the first session, before Geoff Lemon and JP Howcroft swing by to mop up the tail.

12.38am GMT

Russell will be here shortly. In the meantime, catch up on all the details from day one:

Related: Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell dominate India on day one in Ranchi

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