Mohali: Three wickets in a probing opening spell from Bhuvneshwar Kumar left India in with hopes of reclaiming the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on Monday after Australia had done well to limit their lead to 91 on day four. A deserved five-wicket haul from Peter Siddle - just the second for an Australian bowler this series - had helped keep India to 499 but Bhuvneshwar's triple turned the screws on the tourists. Three down and trailing by 16 runs, Australia will hope that Phillip Hughes can convert his first significant score on into a big innings.
The loss of David Warner, Ed Cowan and Steven Smith dented Australia after they had done well to keep India's lead to fewer than 100 considering the hosts were 283 for 0 when play started. Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck in the first over of Australia's second innings, getting Warner to edge to MS Dhoni. In his fourth over, Bhuvneshwar won a fortuitous lbw shout against Cowan, when the ball appeared to be missing the stumps, but there was no doubt about Smith's dismissal. Pressing forward for inwards movement, Smith had his off stump sent cart-wheeling.
Hughes, who had gotten off the mark with an edge for four past gully, backed himself to play his shots and reached his first fifty of the series, off 50 balls. He was once again vulnerable against spin, especially R Ashwin, but rode his luck to reach 53 not out at stumps.
India ended the day needing to take seven wickets on Monday, with Australia 75 for 3 and trailing by 16 runs on an engaging fourth day in Mohali.
This passage set Australia back after Siddle and Mitchell Starc had bowled so well. Following the leather hunt they were sent on yesterday, Australia enjoyed a productive day with the ball as they took all ten Indian wickets for 216 runs. Siddle struck in five times across three spells, the best of which was a two-wicket burst with the new ball after lunch, and wrapped up India's tail.
His first success came in the second over when Shikhar Dhawan stabbed Nathan Lyon to silly point. Not long after, Cheteshwar Pujara was unfortunately given lbw for 1 to Siddle as Aleem Dar failed to spot an inside edge. These two wickets perked up Australia after a flattening day three, but they were kept hunting for the third by Murali Vijay, who reached his third Test century before lunch.
Australia's best session was the second, with the second new ball producing a collapse of 4 for 19. Having lost Sachin Tendulkar for 37 in the over before lunch, India returned in the afternoon trailing Australia by 24. A late dab off Steven Smith for four took Vijay past 150 and delivered India the lead, which prompted the taking of the second new ball. Immediately Starc swung it in sharply to Vijay whose decision to pad up proved his downfall, and two balls later Dhoni was suckered by a late-swinging low full toss.
Ravindra Jadeja inside-edged his first delivery but as has been the case during his brief Test career, did not look good at all with the bat. He made 8 before nibbling Siddle to Brad Haddin, and Ashwin perished in the same fashion for 4. Kohli found assistance from Bhuvneshwar with whom he put on 61 for the eigth wicket, before Siddle nipped out two wickets to claim 5 for 71.