SYDNEY: First innings heroes Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith steered Australia to an commanding 197-run lead in the high-stakes third Test Saturday, leaving an injury-hit India with a mountain to climb.
They came to the crease after Will Pucovski and David Warner fell early, pushing them to 103 for two at stumps and a strong position with the four-Test series locked at 1-1.
Labuschagne, who scored 91 in the first innings, was not out on 47 and Smith, who blitzed 131 in his first knock, unbeaten on 29.
Australia padded up again after taking eight wickets on day three to dismiss India for 244 in reply to the hosts’ 338.
“I woke up today hoping that by the close of play we still wouldn’t be bowling and to have a lead of near 200, a great day,” said Australian pace spearhead Pat Cummins, who took 4-29.
“I think we need (to bat) for at least a session-and-a half, two sessions tomorrow and then have a good crack at them.”
India’s Cheteshwar Pujara, who made a patient 50, said early wickets would be crucial for his team on Sunday.
“We need to pick up a couple of early wickets tomorrow morning and not allow them free runs in the first session,” he said.
India’s task was made harder by the absence of key spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who was sent for scans after a hit to the thumb while batting. Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant joined him in the clinic after a nasty blow to the elbow.
It piled more misery on India, who were already without injured bowlers Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma and batsman KL Rahul, while skipper Virat Kohli is on paternity leave.
Australia won toss
Australia 1st Innings 338 all out (S.Smith 131; R. Jadeja 4-62)
India 1st Innings 244 all out (S. Gill 50, C. Pujara 50; Cummins 4-29)
Australia 2nd Innings
D. Warner lbw b Ashwin 13
W. Pucovski c Saha b Siraj 10
M. Labuschagne not out 47
S. Smith not out 29
Extras (lb1, nb3) 4
Total (2 wickets, 29 overs) 103
To bat: Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Fall: 1-16 (Pucovski), 2-35 (Warner)
Bowling: Bumrah 8-1-26-0, Siraj 8-2-20-1, Saini 7-1-28-0, Ashwin 6-0-28-1
Umpires: Rod Tucker (AUS), Bruce Oxenford (AUS). TV umpire: Paul Reiffel (AUS)
Source: The News