4th Test: Australia left struggling at 231/8
New Delhi, Mar 22 : Australia suffered another batting collapse and were left struggling at 231 for eight in the first innings at stumps on the first day of the inconsequential fourth Test agsinst India at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Friday.
Stand-in skipper Shane Watson was out for 17 in a middle-order collapse as the Australia tail made a brilliant fight-back after they were reduced to 153 for seven.
Steve Smith (46) and No.9 Peter Siddle (47 batting) starred with the bat in the last session on a day when the Australian top-order struggled on a crazy pitch.
Siddle saved Australia the blushes of being bowled out inside 200 runs with two crucial partnerships with Smith and James Pattinson, who remained unbeaten on 11. With Smith, Siddle added 53 runs for eighth-wicket and 42 runs for the unfinished ninth-wicket stand with Pattinson.
In sunny conditions on a pitch already starting to show signs of cracking and variable bounce at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla ground, the visitors once again had no answer to India's spinners.
Australia now are facing the prospect of a four-nil series sweep for the first time since losing in South Africa in 1969-70.
Ishant Sharma (2/35) provided two crucial bin the first session, but Australia were still well placed at 94 for two at lunch. David Warner fell for a duck and Phil Hughes for 45 (including 10 fours).
But Opener Ed Cowan (38) was bowled around his legs attempting to sweep spinner Ravi Ashwin at 3-106, triggering a middle-order collapse of 5-30.
Watson was stumped for 17 after having survived a stumping chance before lunch. Watson charged down to Jadeja only to miss the line and was stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. It was the sixth time in the series that Jadeja removed an Australian captain in the series.
Matthew Wade (two) appeared unluckily to be given out caught bat-pad at silly point.
Recalled all-rounder Glenn Maxwell (10) played an ugly slog, trying to hit his way out of trouble, and was caught at wide mid-on.
Tail-ender Mitchell Johnson was bowled for three, offering no shot as Ashwin (3-33) claimed his 25th wicket of the series and third of the day.
Paceman Ishant Sharma and spinner Ravindra Jadeja had taken two wickets each.
Australia made five changes, recalling Watson, Wade, Maxwell, Johnson and James Pattinson for skipper Michael Clarke (back injury), Mitchell Starc (ankle surgery), Brad Haddin, Xavier Doherty and Moises Henriques.
Watson, who won the toss in his new role as Australia's 44th Test captain.
The 31-year-old was one of four players banned from the third Test for disciplinary reasons after failing to complete a homework assignment on time, then was granted permission to return to Sydney for the birth of his first child.