Bowlers impress, strong India eye series-levelling victory in Melbourne

On the third day of the Test, Indian bowlers reduced Australia to 133/6 in their second innings. The hosts are ahead by only two runs.

Jasprit Bumrah (second right) celebrates after dismissing Steve Smith during the third day of the second Test in Melbourne. Photo: Twitter/BCCI

India enjoyed another day of domination against Australia in the second Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and put themselves on road to a series-levelling victory at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

On Monday (December 28), the third day of the Test, Indian bowlers reduced Australia to 133/6 in their second innings. The hosts are ahead by only two runs.

In reply to the hosts’ 195, India made 326 all out, taking a 131-run lead, thanks to captain Ajinkya Rahane’s 112 and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja scoring 57.

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“This game is not over yet, we still have to get four more wickets,” Rahane said at the end of day’s play. “Credit to the bowlers, they bowled in the right areas.”

It was a collective effort by the Indian bowlers that left Australia staring at defeat. Added to that, Rahane’s captaincy was impressive, ringing in bowling changes at the right time, despite being a bowler short due to Umesh Yadav’s injury.

Also, Indian quicks used the bouncers well, as one of the deliveries from Jasprit Bumrah hit the back of Matthew Wade’s helmet. He passed the concussion test and carried on batting, with the helmet replaced.

The fast bowlers were well supported by the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

Australia’s second essay began on a disastrous note as Joe Burns (4) not only got out for a poor score, but also wasted a review after Umesh (1/5) opened him up with the one that swung away very late.

However, there was an injury scare for India as Umesh went off the field after bowling just 3.3 overs. Later, in a statement, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said, “Umesh Yadav complained of pain in his calf while bowling his 4th over and was assessed by the BCCI medical team. He is being taken for scans now.”

Introduced early into the attack, Ashwin (1/46) once again showed his class when he bamboozled Marnus Labuschagne (28 off 49 balls) with a slider that went straight with the angle.

Ashwin let one slide across and with the batsman looking to defend. The ball went the other way and took an outside edge on its way to Rahane at first slip.

More misery awaited Australia in the final session when they lost four wickets for the addition of 68 runs, taking India closer to an equaliser in the four-match series after the humiliating defeat in the opener at Adelaide Oval.

Steve Smith’s horror run in the series continued as he was bowled for just eight runs by Jasprit Bumrah (1/34) round his legs when the ball clipped the bails of the off-stump after the batsman had shuffled too much.

Wade (40), looking the best among Australian batsmen, was trapped in front of the wicket by Ravindra Jadeja (2/25) at 98/4.

And while the score remained the same, Australia lost another wicket in Travis Head (17) a couple of overs later.

There was no encore of skipper Tim Paine’s battling knock in the first Test as he was caught behind for one run off the bowling of Jadeja.

At stumps, Cameron Green (17) and Pat Cummins (15) were at the crease.

Earlier, riding on Rahane’s classy hundred and Jadeja’s 15th half-century, India managed enough runs on the board to put Australia under pressure despite losing their five remaining wickets for only 49 runs after resuming the day on 277/5.

Jadeja added 123 runs for the sixth wicket with Rahane, whose vigil came to an when he was run out, his first in Tests, after making a classy 112 with the help of 12 boundaries in 223 balls.

The call was Jadeja’s and the run out was needless, but nevertheless, the all-rounder looked solid in the middle before he was set up by a Mitchell Starc (3/78 in 26 overs).

The Australian left-arm fast bowler tested Jadeja with a barrage of short balls and the ploy worked as the all-rounder pulled one straight to the deep mid-wicket fielder for a polished 57 that included three boundaries and his trademark sword celebration.

Nathan Lyon (3/72 in 27.1 overs) and Josh Hazlewood (1/47 in 23 overs) polished off the Indian tail.

(With inputs from PTI)