New Delhi, Mar 22: Familiar scenes were witnessed at the Feroz Shah Kotla here on Friday. From Chennai to Hyderabad to Mohali and now in Delhi, it was the same tale for Australia. The visitors' batsmen failed yet again against Indian spin with R Ashwin once again leading the way on the opening day of the fourth Test.
Ashwin took four wickets as Australia, opting to bat first, were reduced to 231/8 in 98 overs by stumps. The score could have been worse if not for the gutsy lower order batting. India's charge was held up by the tail as the hosts managed just one wicket in the final session of play.
At 136/7 in 54 overs, Australia were in danger of being bowled out for under 200. But Steve Smith (46), Peter Siddle and James Pattinson (11 not out) thwarted India to take the team past 200. Siddle was the top scorer in the innings.
Siddle played a dogged knock as the right-hander faced more than 117 balls for the first time in his career. He went on to register his highest Test score and is still batting on 47 off 125 balls with four boundaries. Smith and Siddle had a partnership of 53 and now Siddle-Pattinson combination has yielded 42 in 16.4 overs.
At the start of play, many including former batsman VVS Laxman slammed the Kolta pitch as 'third-day wicket'. There are lot of cracks on the wicket and batting could be difficult as the match progresses.
Ashwin's impressive run with the ball has continued. He yet again proved that he is the number one offspinner in the country. He has 26 scalps in this series. Ravindra Jadeja had two while Pragyan Ojha will have to wait for his 100th Test scalp.
India are aiming for a historic 4-0 whitewash here after having won the first three Tests.
At tea, Australia 153/7
India continued to maintain a strong hold over Australia as they put the visitors in deep trouble yet again in the fourth Test here. At tea on the first day, Australia were reeling at 153/7.
The second session saw Indian spinners dominating. If it was Ishant Sharma who took both wickets in the morning session, the post-lunch play was witness to Ashwin and Jadeja weaving their magic.
Ashwin took three scalps to take his series tally to 25. Jadeja added two more including the big wicket of captain Shane Watson. Ojha also bowled well but is still searching for his 100th Test victim.
At the break, Steve Smith (25) and Peter Siddle (5) are the not out batsmen. Smith tried to be aggressive initially and hit one six. The session belonged to India as they took five wickets for 59 runs in 39 overs.
At lunch, Australia 94/2
Ishant struck twice as Australia were 94/2 at lunch on the opening day of the fourth and final Test against India here on Friday.
David Warner was out for a duck in the second over, caught by Virat Kohli at slip. After a half century stand between Ed Cowan and Phil Hughes, Ishant dismissed the latter bowled with the score on 71.
Captain Shane Watson on 16 and Cowan (27) are at the crease. Hughes looked in good touch for his 45 before he was hit on the helmet grille by an Ishant bouncer and was bowled in the same over.
Ishant, who had struggled in the previous three Tests, bowled well with the new ball. At lunch, he had bowling figures of 2/21 in eight overs with three maidens.
Australia win toss, bat first
Australia's new captain Shane Watson won the toss and elected to bat first against India in the fourth and final Test of the series here at Feroz Shah Kotla on Friday.
Michael Clarke was ruled out of the match due to back injury. India handed Test debut to Ajinkya Rahane, who replaced Shikhar Dhawan, who injured his hand during the third Test in Mohali.
Australia made five changes for this Test. Watson, Matthew Wade, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson and James Pattinson are the new personnel in the playing XI. Watson, Johnson and Pattinson were axed from selection for the previous Test due to disciplinary issues. Brad Haddin, Mitchell Starc, Clarke, Xavier Doherty and Moises Henriques were the ones who missed out for this Test. Watson is the 44th Australian Test captain. Wade was named vice-captain.
Rahane was the only change for India. Rahane is the 278th Test player for India. The hosts are aiming for a historic clean sweep of the series. They have already claimed the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 3-0 lead.
India: MS Dhoni (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma.
Australia: Shane Watson (captain), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade (vice-captain, wicketkeeper), Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon.