Scintillating bowling and razor-sharp fielding from Australia had India on the ropes Saturday, bowled out for 244 to be 94 adrift at tea on day three in the third Test on Saturday. On a fine day at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the visitors resumed on 96 for two in reply to Australia’s first innings 338, built on the back of a Steve Smith century. They were dismissed just before the break with Pat Cummins taking 4-29.
That included the prized scalp of Cheteshwar Pujara for 50 while Josh Hazlewood removed a dangerous Rishabh Pant, who suffered a nasty blow to his elbow on his way to a breezy 36.Their downfall sparked a collapse, with Ravi Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah both run out, joining Hanuma Vihari who suffered the same fate earlier in the day as Australia pounced on every chance. A cautious Pujara began the day on nine and captain Ajinkya Rahane two after Hazlewood and Cummins dismissed openers Rohit Sharma (26) and Shubman Gill (50) on Friday.
Rahane, who scored a century in the last Test at Melbourne, had an escape on 16, with a Nathan Lyon delivery ballooning to Matthew Wade at short leg, who could only get his fingertips on the ball as he leapt backward. The skipper then whacked Lyon for a big six before his new-found aggression cost him his wicket, chopping a Cummins ball onto his stumps in the next over.
Pujara continued what he does best at the other end, grinding out singles while occasionally opening his bat, smacking two boundaries off one Lyon over. He brought up his 26th half-century off a dogged 174 balls in his 80th Test. But the celebrations did not last, with Pant out two balls later, edging a Hazlewood delivery to David Warner at slip to break a dangerous 53-run partnership. And it got worse when Pujara was removed in the next over, gloving a rising Cummins ball to wicketkeeper Tim Paine, who took the catch comfortably.
India then crumbled with Ashwin slow off the mark for a single and Cummins alert, making a quick throw to Marnus Labuschagne standing at the stumps. It followed Vihari being brilliantly run out for four before lunch, attempting a run that wasn’t there, with Hazlewood diving to his right and throwing the ball onto the stumps in one movement. Mitchell Starc took the wicket of debutant Navdeep Saini before Bumrah was the third run out of the day, courtesy of a lightning-fast Labuschagne. Ravindra Jadeja added 28 runs for the last wicket with Mohammed Siraj, before Cummins pounced again.