Australia v India: Hosts take control of third Test after fine bowling and fielding display
|Third Test, Sydney Cricket Ground (day three)|
|Australia 338 & 103-2: Labuschagne 47*|
|India 244: Gill 50, Pujara 50; Cummins 4-29|
|Australia lead by 197 runs|
Australia appear on course to win the third Test against India after a sublime bowling and fielding display on day three at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
India were 195-4, trailing by 143 runs, but lost their last six wickets for just 49 runs to be dismissed for 244.
World number one bowler Pat Cummins claimed four wickets and the home side pulled off three superb run outs to punish sloppy running by the tourists.
Australia closed on 103-2, a lead of 197 runs.
Marnus Labuschange remains unbeaten on 47, while Steve Smith is 29 not out.
If Australia’s two best batsmen continue to build on their fine partnership so far on day four, India face having to chase a highly improbable target or bat out more than a full day to avoid defeat.
The four-match series is level at 1-1, with the final Test in Brisbane starting on 15 January.
Run out of the series?
This is the first time in 12 years India have had three batsmen run out in the same Test innings and, given the day started finely poised, it could well have cost them the chance of back-to-back series wins in Australia, after their first ever series victory there in 2018-19.
The first run out was the most spectacular as Hanuma Vihari pushed a delivery to the right of Josh Hazlewood at mid-on and immediately set off but the tall fast bowler got down brilliantly and released the ball in one motion to knock out middle stump.
Cummins said that Hazlewood had “done a Jonty Rhodes” on BT Sport after play and the former South Africa international, widely regarded as one of the best fielders of all time, would indeed have been proud of such a display.
Hazlewood himself played it down, telling ABC Grandstand on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra that is was “good luck” he was in the middle of a bowling spell at the time so had not stiffened up.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who has four Test centuries, was caught short of his ground for just 10 as Cummins swiftly picked up Ravindra Jadeja’s drive to mid-on and connected, with Labuschagne backing up the stumps.
Then Labuschagne capped off Australia’s exquisite day in the field, hustling back from short leg to turn and throw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end to dismiss Jasprit Bumrah for a duck.
Cummins underlines number one ranking
India were also undone by another stellar performance from fast bowler Cummins, who held a disciplined line and length around the top of off stump and eventually wore the tourists down.
First he forced Ajinkya Rahane, leading India in the absence of Virat Kohli, to chop on to his stumps for 22.
India fought back as Cheteshwar Pujara ground his way to 50 off 174 balls and Rishabh Pant hit a more fluent 36.
But after Pant took a nasty blow on the elbow from Cummins, he then nicked Hazlewood to David Warner at first slip and, four balls later, Cummins got one to lift sharply at Pujara, who edged behind to keeper Tim Paine.
India had lost two crucial wickets without scoring and Australia ruthlessly cleaned up the tail, with Jadeja also taking a blow to his left thumb that meant he did not bowl in Australia’s second innings, while keeper Pant was replaced by Wriddhiman Saha in the field.
And dismissing Australia openers David Warner and Will Pucovski cheaply provided only momentary encouragement for the tourists before Labuschagne and Smith bedded in imposingly before the close.
India run out woes – match stats
- This is only the seventh time in Test history that India have had three batsmen run out in the same innings.
- They did not win any of the matches on those six previous occasions
- The last time it happened was against England in the second Test in Mohali in 2008, which ended in a draw
- It is the first time since 1991 against West Indies that Australia have run out three batsmen in the same innings
- Pat Cummins has now dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara four times in the series for just 19 runs
‘Game over now’ – reaction
Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood on ABC Grandstand: “That run out was good luck that I was in the middle of a bowling spell so I was warmed up and moving around OK – it might’ve been a different story 20 minutes later.
“We definitely would have taken this position at the start of the day. We’ll see how quickly we can score tomorrow and probably have a late crack at them in the last hour or two.”
Former Australia bowler Stuart Clark on ABC Grandstand: “You watched it thinking, ‘what are you doing?’ The game awareness from India has not been good and it cost them three run outs.
“It’s not good enough at this level. If they’d scored even another 50 runs, Australia would have had to bat more circumspectly. The game’s over now.”