Australian bowlers give them the lead against India in 3rd Test!
Galatta | Jan 09, 2021, 02:56 pm
India Vs Australia is one of the fiercest contemporary rivalries in world cricket! On their last tour to Australia, the Indians brought home glory after defeating the baggy greens in the Test series. However, that was against a team without their two most dashing batsmen - David Warner & Steve Smith, who were serving suspensions over the Sandpaper Gate scandal. However, both the batsmen (Warner from this Test onwards), are back for Australia but the Indians seem unfazed and are giving them tough competition, without arguably their own best batsman - Virat Kohli, who left for India on paternity leave, after the first Test! After both teams won 1 Test each, there was a lot riding on this third Test, which is currently underway at the SCG, in Sydney! The honours were shared on Day 1, which was rain marred but India came back strongly on Day 2, to wrap up the Australian innings for 338 and laying a solid foundation for themselves, at 96/2!
Pujara and Rahane walked out to bat on Day 3 but the Aussie bowlers gave nothing away, keeping their lines & lengths as tight as possible. It was a question of who would blink first and it was Rahane, who chopped a Cummins delivery onto his stumps and fell for 22. However, Pujara continued to bat as sedately as ever, being rock solid at one end while Vihari came a cropper once again in this series. He was bogged down with too many dot balls and eventually got run-out to a brilliant effort from Hazlewood, after scoring just 4! Pant came in and provided the innings some impetus and Pujara went on to score yet another half-century. Both batsmen were looking solid till lunch, and the new ball was just 1 over away. The Australian bowlers made good use of the new ball and peppered Pujara and Pant with short deliveries, with Pant taking a rather nasty blow on his exposed elbow. However, he continued to bat after some attention from the physio but seemed unnerved and gave away his Wicket for 36. Pujara followed soon after, to a deadly delivery by Cummins and the Indian innings unravelled. Australia were looking at a lead in excess of a 100 but a cameo from Jadeja with not much support from the other batsmen, got India to 244 and Australia had taken a lead of 94 runs and both Pant and Jadeja had to be taken for scans after getting hit by balls, while batting.
The Australian openers started off well but Mohammed Siraj the free-flowing Pucovski to edge to substitute keeper Saha and India had the breakthrough! Just as Warner and Labuschagne began getting into the groove, Rahane introduced Ashwin in the 10th over itself, as India were a bowler short with Jadeja not being on the field. Ashwin worked his magic immediately and had Warner trapped LBW off his first ball itself! The umpire gave it out but Warner reviewed, hoping that the ball would go over the stumps but was disappointed! India had gotten two quick Wickets and Australia were 35/2 with their lead being just 127! The Indian bowlers could sense a chance but they had to get past Labuschagne and his idol Smith, who was fresh off a first innings century. The two Aussie batsmen began accumulating runs in their usual busy fashion and maintained a healthy run rate. None of the bowlers were spared and the inexperience of Siraj and Saini was exposed as the session wore on. The pace went off the ball and without Jadeja to hold one end up or provide the breakthroughs, the Indian bowling seemed very flat. By the end of the day, Australia had raced to 103/2 and their lead had swollen to 197 with 8 Wickets in hand and the dangerous Smith and Labuschagne looking very good at the crease. With 2 full days to go and injuries to Pant and Jadeja, it looks like only a miracle can save India in this Test! Stay tuned...