Siraj five sets up thrilling final day
A maiden five wicket haul for Indian paceman Mohammed Siraj was the telling performance of the fourth day of the final Test of the series between Australia and India, the visitors needing 324 runs and Australia ten wickets heading in to the final day at the Gabba.
Siraj claimed 5-73 as Australia was bowled out for 294 before the forecast afternoon rain arrived, India 0-4 after 1.5 overs when stumps were called for the day.
Australia resumed at 0-21 after a stellar performance from India's lower order limited the home side's lead to 33 on day three, left handers Marcus Harris and David Warner striding out under overcast skies with play starting at 9:30 AM local time.
Both batsmen had some luck early with edges through the slips cordon, but the duo got the innings moving with bad weather forecast for later in the day, reaching 0-89 before Harris gloved a steep bouncer from Shardul Thakur having struck eight boundaries in his 38.
Warner fell in the next over to the off-spin of Washington Sundar, trapped on the crease by an arm ball and adjudged LBW, his last second review futile with Hawkeye sending him on his way with three reds.
Marnus Labuschagne kept the ball rolling with five boundaries in his 22 ball 25 before edging Siraj to Rohit Sharma at second slip.
The right arm paceman, the most experienced Indian bowler in the match despite only playing his third Test had a second wicket in the over when Matthew Wade was dismissed for a duck, caught down the leg side from the third ball he faced.
Steve Smith and Cameron Green got to lunch without any further damage being done, Smith shifting gears after the break as he chased quick runs with the clouds rolling ominously towards the Gabba.
Green was struggling for fluency but Smith eased his way to a half century, Siraj bringing the former captain undone with a sharp bouncer that reared up off a crack to fly via Smith's gloves to Ajinkya Rahane at gully.
Green made 37 but also couldn't go on with a start, Tim Paine (27) and Pat Cummins (28*) helping push Australia's lead past 300 either side of a rain break that forced an early Tea.
The tail wagged somewhat but the innings was over when Josh Hazlewood guided Siraj to third man, giving the fast bowler his maiden five wicket haul in a fine bowling display.
Thakur claimed 4-61 to continue his stunning comeback to Test cricket, claiming seven wickets for the match to go with his vital 67 in the first innings of the Test with the bat.
The rain arrived just eleven balls in to India's chase of 328 for victory, forcing an early close despite 24 more overs scheduled for the day, Rohit Sharma opening India with a classy cover drive for four off Mitchell Starc who appeared to be struggling with a lower leg injury when the players left the field.
India will have the best part of 100 overs to chase down a further 324 runs, a record chase at the Gabba if successful.
The tourists will also end a 32 year winning drought for an away side at the venue should they pursue the target on day five, further showers forecast to keep the draw in the fame, enough for India to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Australia need ten wickets to claim the series on the final day, all three results still possible in what has been an incredible series between the nations.
IMAGE: Times Now.