India tightened their grip over proceedings on Day 3 of the second Test vs Australia, inching closer to a possible win in the Boxing Day Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. After taking a 131-run lead in the first innings, courtesy Skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s 112 and Ravindra Jadeja’s 57, India restricted the hosts to 133/6 at Stumps on Day 3. Cameron Green (17) and Cummins (15) were unbeaten with a partnership of 34* at the end of the day’s play.
Earlier in the morning, Rahane and Jadeja started off well but the captain fell to an unfortunate run-out. Jadeja was on strike and it never looked like a possible run. Rahane tried all his might to make his crease. But Marnus Labuschagne's excellent throw found him short.
India’s tail couldn’t sustain itself for long as Jadeja departed a little after scoring his half-century. However, his contribution would be considered invaluable for holding the Indian innings together with Rahane for the longest time.
His dismissal was rather unfortunate. A short ball from Starc found the meat of his bat but it wasn’t good enough a placement to beat Pat Cummins in the deep midwicket who completed a juggling catch.
Once Jadeja was back to the hut, the other three batsmen cumulatively scored only 20 runs as India got bundled out for 326. Out of those 20 runs, Ashwin scored 14 alone. Josh Hazlewood put an end to his resistance and picked up his first wicket of the match.
The Aussies, in their second innings, never looked to be in the thick of things, occasionally having a few mediocre partnerships. Mathew Wade (40) and Labuschagne (28) got their starts and even stitched a 38-run partnership but none of them could capitalise to score big.
Steve Smith (8) continued his poor form. He was dismissed by Jasprit Bumrah off a delivery that pitched on middle and leg and kissed the leg stumps while Smith was trying to steer it to the fine-leg.
Jadeja got Wade trapped LBW with a really quick one when Australia were 98/4. The next two wickets of Travis Head and Tim Paine fell in a matter of two runs.
While the debutant Siraj got the better of Head, Skipper Paine fell to a thin edge while trying to play the cut. The initial decision was ‘Not Out’, but a timely DRS from Rahane sent Paine back.
Even though Indians have got an upper hand so far, they will be worried over Umesh Yadav’s calf muscle injury which he had sustained while bowling his 4th over of the second innings. He will undergo CT scan to assess the damage.