Superb bowling from Jasprit Bumrah saw Australia demolished for 151 to see India take a 292-run first innings lead, but India lost five second-innings wickets for 54 runs before the close as Australia fought back.
Australia lost all 10 first-innings wickets in a miserable 60.5 overs on day three of the third Test at the MCG as India set themselves up for a possible 2-1 series lead. Marcus Harris (22 off 35 balls) and Tim Paine (22 off 85 balls) top-scored for the home side, while Usman Khawaja (21) and Travis Head (20) also made starts, but couldn’t convert in the face of superb bowling by Bumrah in particular, who brought the seemingly docile MCG pitch to life.
Bumrah and Ishant Sharma picked up the first four wickets for 89 to put Australia on the back foot, a position from where none of their batters could find their feet to build a substantial innings and challenge India’s first-innings score.
Bumrah wrapped up the last three wickets for four runs off nine balls to dismiss Australia for 151 runs off 66.5 overs, ending with magnificent figures of 6-33 from his 15.5 overs, his best performance in his ninth Test. Ravi Jadeja (2-45) picked up the valuable wickets of Khawaja and Mitchell Marsh, while Mohammed Shami and Sharma each picked up a wicket.
Kohli should have been tempted to force the follow-on with a first-innings lead of 292, but no doubt he was wary of his side’s propensity for brittleness under pressure and preferred to leave Australia with the task of attempting to survive the fourth innings. His plans backfired somewhat as India lost five second-innings wickets for just 54 runs in the 27 overs available before the close as Pat Cummins broke the opening stand. Then first-innings batting heroes Kohli (four balls) and Cheteshwar Pujara (two balls) were both caught at leg gully for ducks, sending a flutter through the Indian dressing room.
Rohit Sharma’s eagerness to cut saw him caught by Shaun Marsh off Josh Hazlewood for six as India ended the day 346 runs ahead with five second-innings wickets in hand.
With two days to go, there is still all to play for, but barring the capricious Melbourne weather playing underhanded tricks, the likelihood is that India will go 2-1 up at the MCG. Unless, of course, Australia can roll the visitors’ last five wickets for between 50 to 75 runs on the fourth morning.
If India scores 150 or more in their second innings, then Australia’s struggling batting lineup is certain to be stretched beyond the bounds of what most would view as an achievable target. The Aussie batters will, of course, be keen to prove the doubters wrong, so it will be up to India’s four-man attack to work their magic once again.
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