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Rain calls stumps as Aussies bear down on India

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Australia were left cursing cricket’s formalities and a Brisbane thunderstorm after rain stalled their push for victory in the series-deciding fourth Test at the Gabba, where India will resume at 2-62 on day three.

Nathan Lyon delivered with bat and ball on day two, scoring 24 as part of a wagging tail that dragged Australia from 8-315 to a first-innings total of 369 in Saturday’s morning session.

The offspinner then snared the key scalp of Rohit Sharma, who had looked increasingly dangerous prior to giving Mitchell Starc some catching practice in the deep while on 44.

India, having earlier dismissed well-set batsmen Tim Paine (50) and Cameron Green (47) during a collapse of 3-4 in 14 deliveries, trimmed Australia’s lead to 307 runs by tea on day two.

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Wet weather meant no more play was possible, with the action due to resume half an hour early at 9.30am (local time) on Sunday.

Umpires, worried about a damp outfield, informed an eager Paine that stumps had been called after conducting their final pitch inspection at 4.45pm (local time).

Australian skipper Tim Paine inspects the Gabba’s soggy outfield with umpires, who called it a day.

Play could have been extended beyond the allocated finish time of 5pm (local time) but only if both sides were already back on the park, so it was a case of 5pm or bust.

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“There’s no doubt, if you had a bit more flexibility with that rigid cut-off time then we would have been able to play an hour, or possibly a bit more,” Australia assistant coach Andrew McDonald said.

“I feel for the spectators here who stayed through that heavy downpour. They were optimistic we were going to get some play. So were we.

“Disappointing for the spectators … clearly we wanted to get back out there.

“Unfortunately it was deemed unfit.”

Ground staff were watering the centre-wicket block soon after McDonald spoke.
India will retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy with either a draw or win in Brisbane, where further showers are forecast during the rest of the series finale.

“In the next few days we can make up that time, so we probably won’t lose any overs,” McDonald said.

“The weather forecast can change.

“I don’t think there is going to be a rush from us and when you’re bowling, you can’t speed up the game anyway.”

Lyon, who was given a standing ovation when he walked out to bat, requires a further three wickets to celebrate 400 Test scalps in what is his 100th Test.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane are unbeaten, on eight and two respectively.

“Runs can be easy once you’re in here. It’s a good pitch to bat on,” Sharma said.

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Pujara and Rahane are India’s two best batsmen but also their only players who took part in both the first and fourth Tests, underlining how much of a toll this summer has taken on the injury-riddled touring party.

Adding to their injury woes, they look likely to be a bowler down for the rest of the series finale in Brisbane, with paceman Navdeep Saini yet to bowl after suffering a groin injury on day one.

-AAP

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