Green, Cummins put Australia into lead but India stay on top

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safari
27 Dec 2020 | 11:37 PM
authorShubh Aggarwal

Green, Cummins put Australia into lead but India stay on top

India were all out before lunch with 326 runs in their first innings

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India have gone form strength to strength in this Test match. At the end of Day 1, Criclytics’ win predictor gave them 59 percent chances of a win. At the end of Day 2, it elevated to 96 percent. After another superb day on the field on Day 3, they are still miles ahead of Australia, with 96 percent chances of a win. 

After extending their lead to 131 before being bowled out at the stroke of Lunch, Indian bowlers did not give Australia any breathing space, despite the pitch being deemed good for batting on Day 3. Australia could manage a lead of 2 runs by stumps but have lost six wickets. Each of their top five batsman is back in the hut alongside the skipper, Tim Paine. The fact that all the Indian bowlers have been amongst wickets underlines the constant pressure put on the home side. 

The new ball was critical for India beginning the second innings post Lunch and Umesh Yadav provided the first wicket with an outswinger that will get most batsmen out, let alone the out of form, Joe Burns. He pitched the ball in line of the stumps while moving it away just enough to get the feather of Burns’ bat. The opener went for a review but rather burnt it as the Hotspot showed a clear edge. 

A great start ended on an unfortunate note for Umesh. Two overs after getting into the wickets column, he walked off the field due to pain in his left calf. 

Marnus Labuschagne, in at three, appeared in ominous touch. Matthew Wade on the other end was up for a fight. They added 38 runs from 88 balls, instilling confidence in Australia’s cause. Less fidgety than usual, Labuschagne collected 16 runs from 18 balls against R Ashwin. The wily off-spinner though, soon outclassed the right-handed batsman. 

Coming around the stumps, Ashwin bowled a straighter one by pitching the ball on the leather instead of the seam. As the tactic had done throughout the series, it created indecision in the batsman’s mind. Labuschagne was neither front nor back and edged the ball to Ajinkya Rahane at the first slip to be out for 28. 

Steve Smith walked out and has not looked comfortable against Ashwin. There was an obvious tension visible in his defensive strokes against the off-spinner. He tried to pick him off the pitch throughout the spell and found both edges of his bat challenged with slip as well as the leg-slip in operation. 

Smith survived till Tea but few overs after the break, the lightning struck Australia’s hopes of a revival. It came in the form of a Jasprit Bumrah delivery attacking Smith’s leg-stump. Most of the bowlers around the world have tried that tactic only to find success evading them. But Bumrah brushed the leg-stump by such a small margin that neither the bowler nor the batsman were able to identify. It was Ajinkya Rahane, running in from cover, who pointed out the fallen leg bail leaving Smith rattled and the Indians celebrate in joy.  

Travis Head and Matthew Wade tried to battle on, staying unseparated for 70 balls. Although, runs proved hard to come by - only 27 - during this time. Ravindra Jadeja ended Wade’s vigil by hitting him on the pads with the help of sharp turn from his over-the-wicket angle. Wade went for a hopeful review but had to walk after 40 off 137 balls. 

One brings two and Mohammed Siraj found his first wicket of the second innings three over later, edging Head to the slip cordon. Tim Paine did not last long. He tried to cut a rising delivery from Jadeja but missed the ball, as he would like to believe. Rahane went for the review straightaway which Paine him out. 

A bemused Australian skipper walked back with Australia still 32 runs behind and six wickets down. Cameron Green and Pat Cummins fought it out in the last hour of play to push Australia into the lead, even though it is only 2 runs at the moment. They have now batted out nearly 20 overs together, displaying how to defend their wicket against the Indian spinners. 

Earlier in the day, India added 49 runs to their lead before being bundled out for 326. Rahane got things up and running for India on the second ball of the day, nudging a friendly delivery on the leg-stump. 

As India were on the cusp of getting their lead into the three-figure mark, Rahane was run out in an anticlimactic end to his determined innings. He tried to get to the batting end looking for a quick single but fell short marginally as Australia finally broke the 121-run stand. 

Rahane was surprisingly not tried on the short ball today by Australia but Jadeja received plenty of it. The field positions and Starc’s around-the-wicket angle post Jadeja’s fifty were a clear indication of some chin music coming towards him. The southpaw swayed away for a while but the prolonged barrage got to his head. He went after Starc. After a few play and misses, he timed one perfectly but found Pat Cummins in the deep. India’s lead was 111 by then. 

Nathan Lyon chipped in with two lower order wickets while Josh Hazlewood got the better of Ashwin. But the lower order added 20 runs more, stretching India's lead to 131, which is proving to be a bit too much for the home side. 

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