Brief scores: India 244 all out (Shubman Gill 50, Cheteshwar Pujara 50, Pat Cummins 4/29, Josh Hazlewood 2/43) trail by 94 runs to Australia 338 all out (Steve Smith 131, Marnus Labuschagne 91, Ravindra Jadeja 4/62, Jasprit Bumrah 2/66)
Australia are in the driver’s seat after scalping six Indian wickets for just 49 runs in the post-lunch session on Day 3. The visitors were bundled out for 244, handing the Aussies a first innings lead of 94 runs in the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday (January 9).
The match was evenly poised at the end of the first session, but the Indian batsmen fell like nine pins, courtesy some disciplined bowling and sharp fielding efforts. The visitors were struggling on 216/9 before Ravindra Jadeja’s heroics brought Australia’s lead under 100 runs.
With India on 180/4, the second session commenced like the first as off-spinner Nathan Lyon started the proceedings before the fast bowlers took over. Australia took the second new ball in just the second over after lunch, but Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara seemed to have gotten to grips with both the pitch and the bouncer barrage directed at them.
So much so that Tim Paine removed Starc after bowling him just two overs. And that’s when things took a turn. The bowling partnership of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood was a treat to watch as Cummins was angling the ball into the batsmen with the latter luring them to poke in the corridor of uncertainty.
Pant got a taste of that medicine as a Cummins bouncer struck his left elbow which saw him grimace in pain. The physio put a black tape around the area, but the effect of the blow was very much apparent on the wicketkeeper-batsman’s face.
Pujara, on the other hand, channelled the same nerves of steel as was evident in the morning session. He pushed Hazlewood to midwicket to bring up his 26th Test fifty, however, his slowest one among them all.
Two run-outs could prove costly for India
Along with the physical pain, Rishabh Pant was battling his temperament and technical demons as well. He played and missed a Hazlewood delivery outside off stump before edging the very next ball to David Warner at first slip. And that’s how the slide began.
India were dealt the biggest blow when Pat Cummins got a ball to spit off the surface to kiss Pujara’s gloves through to Australian captain Tim Paine. Notably, it was the 27-year-old’s 200th first-class wicket.
More than the wickets, what must have left both the Indian fans and management frustrated is the manner of the dismissals. Ravichandran Ashwin, who got a start with a 15-ball 10, was guilty of poor running between the wickets as he fell short to a Mitchell Starc throw from mid-off. Similar happened with Jasprit Bumrah as Ravindra Jadeja called for two but Marnus Labuschagne’s direct hit caught the Indian paceman at the non-striker’s end.
However, in between the two run-outs was a classic case of toying with a tailender. Unable to get a hang of Michell Starc’s bouncers, Navdeep Saini had two of his top-edges fall in no man’s land. Matthew Wade was deployed at silly point, and he pouched a simple catch off the third similar occasion.
Ravindra Jadeja tried to swing the willow in the company of No. 11 Mohammed Siraj, but couldn’t quite farm the strike. The innings came to a close as Cummins claimed his fourth wicket by getting a faint knick of Siraj caught by Paine. Jadeja remained unbeaten on 28 off 37 balls, despite copping a blow on his left thumb to a Starc bouncer.
Post tea, Australia would desperately want to buck the trend and put on a solid opening stand. Runs on the board will definitely put Ajinkya Rahane’s side under pressure, and the uneven bounce which is already quite evident will make India’s chase in the fourth innings even tough.
Published 09 Jan 2021, 10:14 IST