Mohali: Australia's tour of horrors degenerated further, partly through their own inability to keep pace even with a sub-par Indian performance and partly through the recurrence of a back injury to Michael Clarke, the one batsman who has demonstrated the wherewithal to dominate the spinners. India, despite scores of 187 from Shikhar Dhawan and 153 from Murali Vijay, managed only 499, a lead of 91, but Australia's skipperless top order contrived to lose three wickets before the close on the penultimate day, leaving itself in real risk of losing a match that was reduced to four days after rain washed out the first day.
All eyes were on Dhawan when the day began, not merely because of the manner in which he had shredded Australia's bowlers on Saturday (March 16), but because the Sunday crowd at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali sensed that they could be witnessing something historic. Unfortunately for Dhawan, a hard-handed defensive push off Nathan Lyon went straight to hand, Ed Cowan snapping up the offering at silly mid-off.
Dhawan's soft dismissal was followed by a spot of tough luck for Cheteshwar Pujara when he was adjudged lbw despite inside-edging Peter Siddle onto pad. With two wickets falling in quick time, the tempo of the innings changed dramatically. Where there was earlier hope that Dhawan's charge would be prolonged, it was now time to be watchful, and Sachin Tendulkar led this mission, giving the Australian bowlers the kind of respect they have scarcely earned on this tour. While Tendulkar was far from uncomfortable, he did not try to force the pace at any point, despite being in good enough form to play one of his trademark, aesthetically-perfect off drives for four off Mitchell Starc.