Aussie bowlers put their team in the driver’s seat

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Australia were 103 for two at stumps against India on the third day of the third Test, extending its overall lead to 197 runs at Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.

At the close of play, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were batting on 29 and 47 respectively in their second innings.

Responding to Australia’s first-innings total of 338 all out, India was dismissed for 244 to give the home side a substantial lead of 94 runs going into its second essay at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Pat Cummins was the most successful Australia bowlers, returning impressive figures of 4/29, and Josh Hazlewood ended with 2/43, while Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara scored a 50 each for the visitors.

Coming into the day, at 96 for 2, it was clear that India’s senior-most batsmen had to both be among the runs if they were to set up a fighting chance for their inexperienced bowling line-up.

But both and Ajinkya Rahane were met with a sustained spell of hostile, probing and accurate bowling that yielded only 11 off seven overs in the opening half hour.

Eventually, Rahane chopped a late cut on as the ball from Cummins stayed lower than he expected, resulting in a clean bowled.

The next batsman, Vihari had his share of misses and inside-edges and reprieves close-in as well, as he got wrapped tighter and tighter into a shell.

At 4 off 37, he looked to steal a single to Hazlewood’s right at mid-off, only for the bowler to adjust his lunge such that he could throw the ball at the stumps immediately. The result was a perfect hit to the non-striker’s stumps directly to catch Vihari short.

Pant’s stand with Pujara stretched past 50 with runs coming a lot easier than in any previous stand. But after negotiating the second new ball together for close to eight overs, both Pant and Pujara fell six balls apart.

Hazlewood had Pant nicking to first slip from around the wicket, and Cummins – for the fourth time in five innings – got Pujara to edge behind with one that straightened in the channel.

From 195 for 6, India collapses to 244 all out, with Jadeja’s 28 not out, studded with 5 fours being the only note of resistance.

Cummins was the pick of the bowlers with 4 wickets but more outstanding was the fact that he gave away just 29 runs in 21.4 overs!

India managed to dismiss both openers fairly early, starting with Mohammed Siraj finding Will Pucovski’s outside edge just as the debutant had begun to look confident.

David Warner then missed a slog-sweep against Ashwin to be lbw, and it looked like India had a way back in.

But the rock-solid batting from Labuschagne and Smith ensured that there were no further alarms.

By stumps, the third-wicket pair had added 68 without once looking like getting out.

Australia are firmly in the drivers’s seat with a lead of 197 runs and 8 wickets in hand. If anything can save India, it’s probably the rain!