Virat Kohli has not scored a Test century in three years but won’t get a better opportunity, but an injury drama threatens to disrupt India’s plans. FOLLOW LIVE
Virat Kohli is 59 not out and has a chance to break a three-year Test century drought when play resumes on day four of the fourth Test.
India is 3-289 and trailing by 191 runs, thanks to a superb 128 from opener Shubman Gill.
Australia struggled to break through on the flat Ahmedabad deck and this match appears headed for a draw unless one side can set the game alight early on day four.
Steve Smith’s side needs wickets and India would need quick runs to force the issue in this Test.
Indian commentators believe Rohit Sharma should seriously consider declaring behind in a bid to force a result, given they’ve already secured the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
4:o7PM – INDIA 4-324. MURPHY BOWLS THREE STRAIGHT MAIDENS AS PITCH ‘STIRS’
Todd Murphy has bowled three consecutive maidens – two to Indian maestro Virat Kohli – as commentators predict the fourth Test is about to roar to life.
Veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle – the voice of Indian cricket – believes the pitch has finally “stirred to life” after being dormant for three days.
Indian superstar Shreyas Iyer may be unable to bat due to a back problem, meaning India may be effectively five wickets down and vulnerable should Australia be able to take a couple of quick wickets before lunch.
After an hour’s play, India is trailing by 156 on the first innings.
3:41PM – INDIA 4-318. INJURY DRAMA ROCKS INDIA
India has a been rocked early on day four by a Todd Murphy wicket and an injury drama which threatens to weaken their batting line-up for the rest of the match.
Shreyas Iyer has been sent for scans on his back and was unable to come to the crease when Ravi Jadeja fell early to Murphy to give Australia another sniff on a flat wicket in Ahmedabad.
Wicketkeeper KS Bharat has come out to the middle to partner Virat Kohli (69 not out) instead.
If Iyer is unable to bat, it means India is effectively five wickets down and still 162 runs behind.
The draw is the favourite result, but Australia could give themselves an opportunity if they can skittle India in the next two sessions.
India’s plan will be able to bat all day and build enough of a lead that they can throw Australia in to try and survive on day five to draw the game.
Murphy got his second wicket when he lured Jadeja into a loose shot where he attempted to hit the spinner down the ground only to chip him to Usman Khawaja at mid-off.
Kohli is chasing his first Test century in three years.
Usman Khawaja has been invaluable for Australia, but the national selectors face a huge call in deciding precisely what he’s worth.
Australian cricket’s annual contract list, to be announced next month, traditionally rewards all-format players with the most eye-watering contracts.
But there is a strong argument to suggest Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne should be breaking into the top five this year, based purely on their prowess at Test level.
It’s a huge call, because to slot them in, selectors would have to drop Josh Hazlewood and David Warner down the list in a year in which both men could yet be decisive in the Ashes and 50-over World Cup.
Last year, Pat Cummins, Warner, Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Steve Smith made up the top five highest-paid contracted cricketers in Australia.
The all-format prowess of those five stars makes them incredibly difficult to shake from the top echelon, but this year at least, selectors have some serious thinking to do.
Ultimately, players will all be given an overall ranking, but first and foremost, selectors need to sit down and determine a rankings list for red and white ball cricket.
First question should be, is Khawaja now the best Test batsman in Australia?
The 36-year-old’s stunning form which has seen him smash six hundreds since being recalled to Test cricket 14 months ago is so compelling it begs the question whether Khawaja has taken over from the world No. 1 Labuschagne and Australian all-time great Smith as our best Test bat.
Test great Matthew Hayden believes Khawaja shapes as the key man on this year’s Ashes tour.
Khawaja may not have much more than 12-24 months left in Test cricket given his age, but on what he has done, and what he is capable of doing for Australia at the Ashes, he at least deserves to earn his biggest ever contract this year.
Labuschagne is also owed an upgrade given his years’ of consistency since breaking out on the last Ashes tour of 2019.
Being the No. 1 Test batsman has to count for something.
And then of course there is Cameron Green. The new all-format prototype who simply has to charge into the million dollar pay bracket off the back of his maiden Test century.
Australia’s top ranked cricketer earns an estimated $2 million, and then there’s a sliding scale where the top seven at least, all earn more than $1 million.
Nathan Lyon was ranked about No. 6 last year and is still the world’s No. 1 spinner.
It would be a brave selection panel to bump down proven champions like Hazlewood and Warner with so much on the line this year.
Unless selectors have already made a decision not to take Warner to England (which there is no evidence of), then he remains an integral part of Australia’s plans this year, particularly given he is still a beast as an ODI batsman in a World Cup year.
Early next year he will also be central to Australia’s T20 World Cup hopes in the West Indies.
Hazlewood has struggled to stay on the park for the past two summers, but if fit, he could be Australia’s key bowler in English conditions.
At ODI level he is ranked higher than Pat Cummins, and he is Australia’s best T20 quick.
The decisions won’t be as tough lower down the rankings list, particularly given there is a feeling Cricket Australia may expand the contract list this year.
That means tearaways like Spencer Johnson and Lance Morris are likely to be rewarded and invested in heavily for the future.
Originally published as Australia v India 4th Test: Live scoreboard, latest news from Ahmedabad