India have a lot of ground to cover after a lackluster Day 3

Srinjoy Sanyal
·3-min read

India's bowlers didn't look threatening once the ball lost its shine.
India's bowlers didn't look threatening once the ball lost its shine.

Brief scores: Australia 103/2 (Marnus Labuschagne 47*, Mohammed Siraj 1/20) & 338 all out (Steve Smith 131, Ravindra Jadeja 4/62) lead India 244 all out (Shubman Gill 50, Pat Cummins 4/29) by 197 runs

Australia look set to post a healthy second innings total and give India an imposing target to chase in the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground. At stumps on Day 3, the hosts have reached 103 for 2 to extend their lead to 197 runs.

After a concerted performance bowled India out for 244, the Aussies began the post-tea session with a lead of 94 runs. Though the Ajinkya Rahane-led side managed to make early inroads, the in-form Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne ensured Australia remained unscathed on Saturday (January 9).

Be it riding the high of bundling India out for a sub-par total - including leaving two of their key players in Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant injured - or wanting to capitalize on the healthy lead with some quick runs, Australia showed positive intent from the word go.

Notably, Jadeja and Pant have gone for scans after being struck on the left thumb and left elbow respectively by Aussie speedster Mitchell Starc during India’s innings earlier in the day.

Debutant Will Pucovski, who scored 62 in the first innings, hit Jasprit Bumrah for a boundary in the very first over. To be fair, India’s pace spearhead looked out of sorts, with his lines and lengths erring and speed having reduced significantly. It prompted Rahane to take him out of the attack after delivering just four overs.

On the other hand, Mohammed Siraj bowled a probing line. He was getting the ball to shape into the right-hander, coupled with the pitch causing uneven bounce, as was seen in just the fourth over of the essay. The 26-year-old then got one delivery to hold its line and kiss Pucovski’s outside edge through to Wriddhiman Saha.

David Warner had a forgettable comeback match after managing just 13 runs in addition to his 8-ball 5 in the first innings. He came out with an attacking mindset, which saw him try to slog-sweep Ravichandran Ashwin.

Ashwin, who was brought into the attack as early as the ninth over, extracted bounce off the surface and hit Warner on the belly. Umpire Paul Reiffel eventually raised his finger after a hard look. The southpaw opted for a review, but the decision was upheld to reduce Australia to 35 for 2.

Smith and Labuschange on course to hurt India again

Smith and Labuschagne have strung a 68-run third-wicket stand off 118 balls.
Smith and Labuschagne have strung a 68-run third-wicket stand off 118 balls.

Australia reached 338 in the first innings because of Steve Smith (131) and Marnus Labuschagne (91). The duo again came together in the middle, this time with an aggressive intent. There weren’t many leaves, neither any ducks to short balls, as they decided to take the attack to the Indian bowlers.

Yes, there were a few play and misses, but they too went amiss post the drinks break after 13 overs. As was the case in the first innings, Ashwin bowled short and wide outside off stump, only to be punched off the back foot for boundaries. The pace trio of Bumrah, Siraj, and Navdeep Saini tried to give the Aussies a taste of their own medicine, but their bouncers desperately lacked venom.

As a result, Smith and Labuschagne continued on their merry way, rotating strike, hitting the odd boundary – all effortlessly against what looked like a bruised and listless Indian bowling attack. Already ahead by 197 runs, Australia would look to bat through the first two sessions of Day 4, set India upwards of 400 runs to chase, and try to bowl them out again inside four sessions.