Australia quicks dent India's chances as hosts finish day four on top

By Samuel Green 10 January 2021 3
Australia quicks dent India's chances as hosts finish day four on top

Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins took crucial wickets as Australia’s bowlers closed on victory on day four of the third Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

After Hazlewood removed Shubman Gill for 31 runs, Rohit Sharma fell to Cummins for 52 as an embattled India closed on 98-2, needing 309 more runs for an unlikely win.

Australia had declared on 312-6 after Cameron Green showcased some huge hitting in the afternoon session, surging to 84 off 183 balls, including eight fours and four sixes to set up a tense final session for India.

It was a day of Test cricket once again marred by a crowd incident with play delayed for eight minutes before the tea break while six people were ejected by New South Wales police after India's Mohammed Siraj issued a complaint of alleged abuse to the umpires.

Opening the day on 103-2, Marnus Labuschagne was handed some good fortune after being dropped by Hanuma Vihari off the second ball of the day and he went on to score 73 runs before glancing debutant Navdeep Saini to a leg-side catch.

Steve Smith seemed set to follow up on his first-innings century but spinner Ravichandran Ashwin referred an lbw decision to DRS and claimed Smith’s wicket for the third time this series for 81 with the hosts on 208-5.

With the lead up to 302 and the pitch deteriorating, Green brought up his maiden Test half century then turned on the accelerators, hitting 12 boundaries in a thrilling innings brought to an end by Jasprit Bumrah for 84.

India’s bowling attack were in disarray following injuries to Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant on Saturday, and Tim Paine had added 39 runs to the total before called time on the innings following Green’s departure.

Set 407 to win, Rohit took an aggressive approach to start the innings but the India vice-captain was forced to save himself with a review after being struck on the pads by Hazlewood and given out lbw.

The hosts lost their first review two balls later, Paine claiming to have caught Rohit behind, but no noise was found, and the opener was living dangerously when he was nearly run out by Steve Smith’s quick thinking.

After bringing up the 50 partnership and ticking over to 71, Hazlewood caught Gill's outside edge, and despite a review, Australia had made the breakthrough as Paine claimed the catch.

Pujara was saved from a third-ball duck by a review as Hazlewood continued to torment, and Cummins tempted Rohit into a big hit as Mitchell Starc took the catch to put Australia in the driver’s seat heading into day five.

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Samuel Green