Chennai: The fourth day of this Chennai Test was a throwback to the 1990s, when the Indian formula for success revolved around the batsmen putting up huge totals and the slow bowlers befuddling the opposition on surfaces that resembled sandpits. Once they conceded a lead of 192, and with a top order so callow in these conditions, Australia stood little chance, and it needed another innings of great character from Moises Henriques to stave off an innings defeat. A 57-run stand for the final wicket with Nathan Lyon stretched the first Test into a final day, with Australia just 40 ahead.
Michael Clarke's dismissal on Monday (February 25), trapped in front by a delivery that turned 45 degrees and kept low, epitomised Australia's struggle and when they slipped to 137 for 7 soon after tea, it seemed unlikely that the game would go into a fifth day. But Henriques, who grew in confidence during his unbeaten 75 (124 balls, 6×4, 2×6), shepherded the tail beautifully to keep India at bay.
Australia's survival plan had to be amended even before they came out to bat a second time. David Warner was suffering with a stomach bug, and Shane Watson was promoted to open alongside Ed Cowan. India didn't bother with their pace bowlers, who had combined for 30 fruitless overs in the first innings. R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh took the new ball, and it was soon turning and bouncing viciously out of the rough. The two openers somehow endured till the stroke of lunch when a loopy delivery from Ashwin leapt off the surface enough to take the shoulder of Watson's bat. Virender Sehwag, at slip, grasped the chance.