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Fast-scoring Australia stretches lead to 348

Chris Rogers, Steve Smith and Joe Burns score half-centuries even as R Ashwin returns 4 for 105

Fast-scoring Australia stretches lead to 348 - Cricket News
Steve Smith scored a robust 71.
Steve Smith doesn't follow the coaching manual while batting, but he proved yet again on Friday (January 9) that he can make up for that by employing his own brand of unorthodoxy. His robust 71, along with Chris Rogers's sixth successive half-century, a 77-ball 56, helped Australia recover from early wickets of David Warner and Shane Watson as it ended the penultimate day of the fourth and final Test in Sydney at 251 for 5, leading by 348. 
Rogers's third-wicket stand of 80 with Smith, who eclipsed Don Bradman's record of most runs (715) in an Australia v India series, helped the home side tee off in grand style as things unfurled at a furious pace on a pitch that showed signs of deterioration as the day progressed. Joe Burns then added to India's misery as he lay into the bowlers to blast eight fours and three sixes in his 39-ball 66 before perishing in the dying moments of play.
The lead could have swollen even further had it not been for R Ashwin, who wheeled away superbly after contributing a robust half-century to shore up India's innings that ended on 453 after 162 overs. Ashwin, who opened the bowling, bowled 19 overs unchanged, and was rewarded with figures of 4 for 105, his best overseas. 

Ashwin removed Warner in the second over with a delivery that spun sharply to take the edge to M Vijay at slip. Six overs later, he accounted for Watson with one that spun back in sharply to catch the inside edge and hit the stumps.
That India couldn't build any pressure despite Ashwin’s good outing was due to the inconsistency of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, who went for 124 runs in 17 overs between them. 
Virat Kohli was eventually forced to employ the part-time offspin of Suresh Raina at a time when India was looking to tighten its grip on Australia's middle order.
While the final session was a thrill-a-minute ride, the first two sessions were equally absorbing, as Australia dismissed Kohli early for 147 to diminish India's hopes of crossing the 500-run mark. Wriddhiman Saha (35) played himself in nicely and looked good till he was out fending a short ball.
Ashwin then took over and forged an attractive 65-run stand for the eighth wicket with Bhuvneshwar (30). Bhuvneshwar hit five attractive boundaries and looked good for more before being given out off Nathan Lyon.
Australia closed in on the tail then before coming out all guns blazing. The damage towards the end, where it scored over 200 runs in the final session, gave itself a cushion to set things up for a potential overnight declaration, leaving India with a chance to go for broke and try to pull one back in the series.

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