Pat Cummins led a fantastic bowling performance by the hosts as India were bowled out for 244 before Australia made 103/2, extending their lead to 197 runs on day three of the third Test in Sydney.
Australia's quicks got the ball to talk on a pitch that appeared to be flat, putting their side in the driver's seat. Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith then made an unbeaten 68-run partnership to ensure the hosts finished the day well and truly on top.
The match hung in the balance at the start of day's play with India resuming at 96/2. Australia's bowlers, however, appeared determined to seize the initiative in the morning session. They tirelessly peppered Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane with short stuff. The ploy worked when Rahane finally chopped a Cummins bouncer onto his stumps.
One brought two as Hanuma Vihari was run out in an instance of fielding brilliance by Josh Hazlewood. Vihari set off for a quick single after driving Lyon to mid-off but Hazlewood dived to cut the ball off, collected it cleanly and then fired a direct-hit while still on the ground to catch Vihari just short.
After losing their openers, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne survived the final session to take Australia to 103/2 at stumps.— ICC (@ICC) January 9, 2021
The hosts have extended their lead to 197.#AUSvIND scorecard ⏩ https://t.co/Zuk24dsH1t pic.twitter.com/EjbXndYllk
Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara played in contrasting styles to take India to lunch. Pant was happy to attack anything short or wide, while Pujara continued to hold the fort with caution. Things started changing quickly once the second new ball was taken early in the second session, however.
A Cummins bouncer kept low to beat Pant's pull and hit him on the elbow and while the 'keeper-batsman continued after treatment on the field, he didn't look quite as fluent and soon nicked off to Josh Hazlewood for 36. To make matters worse, Pant was unable to take the field in Australia's innings as he was taken to the hospital for scans. Cummins then produced a perfect away-seaming delivery to Pujara to have him dismissed for the fourth time this series just after the batsman brought up his fifty.
R Ashwin was the next to fall, run out for 10, after a spot of slightly lazy running. Australia had little trouble cleaning the tail up even as Ravindra Jadeja scored an attacking 26* at the other end. India would've probably scored a few more runs, were it not for another sensational direct-hit, this time by Labuschagne to catch Jasprit Bumrah short. In all, India suffered three run-outs in their innings of 244. Jadeja copped a blow to his gloves off a Mitchell Starc lifter and was also unable to take the field later, adding to India's growing injury concerns.
Australia looked to be positive after securing a healthy 94-run lead. Debutant Will Pucovski, who scored a fine fifty in Australia's first innings, got going with a cracking cut shot off Saini, but was soon dismissed for 10 by Siraj, with the bowler getting one to nip away and take the outside edge. His partner Warner fell for 13 when he looked to play a sweep off Ashwin only to be trapped in front.
The two wickets caused Labuschagne and Smith to adopt a slightly more conservative approach initially but they grew in confidence after spending time in the middle to blunt the new ball. Labuschagne played some superb shots, scoring freely on both sides of the wicket. He went to stumps only three short of a second fifty in the game, while first-innings centurion Smith went to close at 29*.
Australia will fancy their chances of going up 2-1 in the series, while India will mull over growing injury concerns as the teams head into day four.
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