Melbourne: Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja shared five wickets as Indian bowlers tightened the noose around Australia by reducing the hosts to 145 for seven at tea on day three of the third cricket Test here Friday.
Bumrah went into the tea break with figures of 3 for 32 while Jadeja returned with 2/44 as Australia lost three wickets in the second session at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
At the break, skipper Tim Paine (22 not out) was holding one end in the company of Mitchell Starc (5 not out) with Australia still trailing India by 298 runs. Post-lunch, it took only four overs for Bumrah to strike again as he bowled Travis Head (20), who played on in the 37th over.
Australia were in dire straits at 92 for 5 and things didn’t improve when Jadeja struck for the second time against Mitchell Marsh (9). The batsman tried an exaggerated onside flick, but only ended up edging to slip as the ball exploded off the pitch.
The hosts had managed to cross 100 in the 41st over, but were struggling at 102 for 6. The next pair then batted with more patience and cut down on attacking strokes for the next hour. In doing so, Paine and Pat Cummins (17) added 36 runs for the seventh wicket and added some respectability to the total amidst the ruins.
To India’s credit, the bowlers never let go the pressure and executed their plans to near perfection. It could have been different, but Cummins was dropped on 2 by wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant off Hanuma Vihari in the 50th over.
Just when it appeared that Australia might avoid another dismissal, Mohammed Shami (1/27) came into the attack and went through the defence of Starc to hand India the advantage again. Earlier, Indian bowlers made early inroads and struck four blows in the morning session to reduce Australia to 89 for four at lunch.
Starting at the overnight score of 8 for no loss, Australia were under the pump early on as Ishant Sharma (1/41) and Bumrah made life difficult for the batsmen with their immaculate line and length.
Trying to break the shackles and dominate the opposition bowlers, Australian openers adopted an attacking approach which worked in India’s favour. Ishant struck in the fifth over of the morning when Mayank Agarwal latched on to a sharp catch at short mid-wicket to send back Aaron Finch (8). The fielder was stationed there for any aerial shot and the plan worked perfectly.
Four overs later, Marcus Harris (22) went for an uncontrolled pull and found the fine leg fielder as Bumrah celebrated his first wicket of the day. India used the scoreboard pressure to good effect as Jadeja came on to bowl with close-in fielders all around the bat.
The left-arm spinner exploited the rough outside the left-hander’s off-stump and it became increasingly difficult for the batsmen to survive.
Usman Khawaja (21) fell to this ploy, caught at short leg, as Australia slipped further to 53 for 3 in the 20th over. The pace of scoring hadn’t changed from the first two days, but it was pretty obvious that the nature of pitch was vastly different as India pressed home their advantage.
Shaun Marsh and Head then added 36 runs for the fourth wicket and brought some semblance of stability to the Australian innings. They used good footwork against Jadeja to smother the possibility of turn from the rough. But Bumrah came up with an inspirational yorker at the stroke of lunch and the slow dipping delivery caught Shaun Marsh plumb in front of the wicket as Australia’s top-order was completely blown away on the third morning.
The four-match series is tied at 1-1 after India won the first Test in Adelaide by 31 runs and Australia won the second Test in Perth by 146 runs.