He delights with the pull shot, he frustrates with the pull shot. Not long after a pull shot that went for a six, shortly after reaching his first Test half-century away from home as an opening batsman, with very little time left to play in the day, Rohit Sharma went after a short ball from Pat Cummins and found the fielder in the deep.

The Rohit Sharma conundrum could be defined thus: a batsman who can absolutely nail the pull shot like he was born to play it and, yet, be dismissed off one on the same day.

It was, arguably, a wicket that tilted the mood for many Indian fans from carefully hopeful about the team’s prospects on the fifth day to a sense of inevitability about what’s to come at Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday.

The hosts declared their second innings at tea on day four at 312/6, leaving India needing a mammoth 407 to win and they reached 98/2 at stumps, still needing a further 309 runs with the four-match series locked at 1-1.

India’s run-chase started steadily before losing openers Shubman Gill for 31 and Rohit Sharma for 52, leaving their hopes resting on Cheteshwar Pujara, who was nine not out, and captain Ajinkya Rahane, unbeaten on four.

Sharma and Gill lived dangerously against some early torrid bowling by Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

But they settled in and began playing their shots, with the graceful Sharma bringing up an 11th Test 50 before being caught at fine leg hooking a Cummins short ball.

Gill, who has cemented his place in the side after making a debut this series, again looked at home until he nicked a Hazlewood delivery to Tim Paine behind the stumps on 31.


With AFP inputs