India is 112 for 5 needing 288 to win. This is not important as the stark reality looms ahead that India cannot win this test and the Aussies in all probability will level the series on the fifth day tomorrow. The test is now lost but it need not have happened this way if Ravi Shastri the Indian coach and captain Virat Kohli had played a spinner after Ravi Chandran Ashwin got injured. The Indian think-tank went in for four fast bowlers thinking that the pacy Perth wicket would be conducive to their bowling. The failure to play a spinner has cost India this test as demonstrated by Nython Lyon the Australian spinner who took 5 for 67 in the first innings and has already scalped two more, including the prize wicket of skipper Kohli in the second innings.

News 18 has reported that Australia is only five wickets away from victory.

Pacy wicket

Perth has the reputation of being the paciest wicket in Australia. The Indian think tank led by Shastri and Kohli thought that four fast bowlers would do the trick. This was extremely short-sighted as the wicket is known to develop cracks after the first two days and a good spinner could have been a game changer. India had two spinners namely Rajendra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav in the ranks but Kohli who had similarly been castigated for dropping Bhuvnesh Kumar against South Africa and Shastri thought it fit to exclude them.

A blunder

In retrospect, this was a blunder and the four fast bowlers though bowling at their best, failed to limit the Aussies who snatched a 44 run lead in the first innings.

The saving grace for India was the 25th century by Kohli who made 123. The others didn't contribute much and India conceded a vital 44 run lead. All credit to the lone Aussie spinner Lyon who wove a web around the Indian batsmen. The sad part is that Indian batsmen who are suspect against pace bowling are supposed to be good players at spin bowling but this was not in evidence at Perth.

The Aussies have made 244 in the second innings and set India 288 to win playing fourth. Paceman Shami bowled well with 6-56 but a spinner was sorely needed. India Today has reported that Shami in the process bowled fast and achieved his best bowling figures. If Kohli and Shastri had played either Jadeja or Yadav the target may have been less.

Last rites

The blunder of the Indian captain cannot be easily explained. India has good spinners and even without Ashwin, there was a good chance that Jadeja would have been an asset. His exclusion is hard to digest. Jadeja is a quality all-rounder who is also a good batsman, but Kohli was keen to settle scores and Shastri decided to omit him. In the bargain, they have almost lost the second test.

The last rites will be performed on the fifth day. India could still win in if Rishab Pant hits out but that is a tall order and for all practical purposes the Aussies will level the series.