Having declared their second innings at 312/6 after securing a lead of 406 runs, Australian pacers Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins removed set Indian openers Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma in quick succession at the stroke of stumps to put themselves in the driver’s seat in the penultimate Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Earlier in the day, the new Test opening pair of Gill and Sharma once again gave the Indians a good start as they forged a partnership of 71 runs in the second innings before Australia pacer Josh Hazlewood ended Gill’s knock for 31.
Brought into the attack by captain Tim Paine to bowl his second spell, Hazlewood bowled an away going delivery and the young India batsman find a faint edge off his bat to be caught behind by the wicketkeeper. The batsman went upstairs only to waste the DRS as the ultra-edge confirmed there was a contact between bat and ball.
In an almost copy-paste situation from the first innings, India were dealt with a massive blow when the other opener, this time Rohit Sharma, was dismissed after scoring a composed fifty. Rohit notched up his eleventh half-century in Test cricket and first outside India as an opener.
The right-handed batsman from Mumbai scored his first first-class fifty in the second innings but his celebration was short-lived as he departed for 52 while playing his favourite pull shot.
Pat Cummins bowled a short-pitched bouncer tempting the right-handed batsman to go for the pull but the hosts had positioned a fielder at that position for that exact shot. An alert Mitchell Starc took a brilliant catch at deep mid-wicket under the shadow to give India their second blow.
In the first innings, Team India lost its first opener at 70 and the second opener perished at 92. If Gill was the opener to score a fifty in the first innings, it was Rohit who fell soon after getting to his half-century.
Cheteshwar Pujara (9 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (4 not out) prevented any further damage in the final 10-15 minutes of the day’s play and they will resume batting on the final day and it will be a monumental task for them at to save the game, with two batsmen (Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja) short. Hanuma Vihari is the only recognised batsman in the dressing room as uncertainty looms over availability of Pant and Jadeja, both of whom were injured while batting in the first innings and didn’t step out to field in Australia’s second essay.
Earlier in the day, half-centuries from Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Cameron Green propelled Australia to score 312/6 in their second innings before the hosts declared at tea. The Aussies, thus, gave Indians a mammoth target of 407 runs to chase at the deteriorating Sydney Test.
The Aussie batsmen dominated the first two sessions on Sunday at the SCG as the Indian bowlers were made to toil hard to pick up the four wickets the hosts lost on day 4.
Labuschagne (73), Smith (81) and Green (84) slammed fifties on the penultimate day of the Test match and got some reprieves from the Indian fielders. Smith, the centurion of the first innings, was poised to slam his second century of the match but he fell 19 short of it as India off-spinner R Ashwin finally managed to trap the swashbuckler in front.
Later, all-rounder Green notched up his maiden Test fifty and started dealing in boundaries and sixes to quickly reach 84 before getting dismissed by Jasprit Bumrah as the hosts declared their innings at 313/6.
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