SGG Test: Australia pull back momentum on Day 3
India suffered yet another batting collapse, this time on Day 3 of the ongoing SCG Test. The Indians, who were cruising on 117/2 at one stage, perished in front of the Australian bowlers. A comprehensive bowling effort helped the hosts bundle India out on 244 in the second session. Australia have now claimed a massive lead of 197 runs. Here are the key takeaways.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane started afresh as India resumed with overnight score of 96/2 on Day 3. Although Rahane departed soon, Pujara continued to bat and completed his half-century. However, the Australian seamers suddenly reduced India to 195/6. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja's unbeaten cameo powered them to 244. In the second innings, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne handed Australia a 197-run lead at stumps.
Despite Rahane's dismissal, Pujara remained resilient. He brought up a patient half-century, that came off 174 balls, his slowest Test fifty (in terms of balls). He went past his previous record, when he notched up one against South Africa off 173 balls (Johannesburg in 2018). Pujara (50) was eventually dismissed by Pat Cummins, which left India reeling in the first innings.
Cummins was the pick of Australia's bowlers in the first innings with figures of 4/29. He bowled in tight lines that disarrayed the middle-order of India. Interestingly, Cummins has now dismissed Pujara four times from five innings in the ongoing series, giving away mere 19 runs off 129 balls. He has choked Pujara with as many as 119 dot balls so far.
Indian wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant was struck on his elbow while batting in the first innings. However, he continued to bat after sustaining the blow. The BCCI later reported that Pant has been taken for scans, the results of which will arrive soon. Eventually, Wriddhiman Saha was named Pant's concussion substitute. The former will keep wickets for India in the second innings.
All-rounder Jadeja suffered a similar blow on his left thumb while batting in the first innings. According to the reports, he has also been taken for scans. However, a substitute for him is yet to be named.
In the second innings, the Australian openers Will Pucovski (10) and David Warner (13) departed cheaply. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was yet again at the helm as he removed the dangerous Warner. Notably, he has now dismissed Warner second-most times in Test cricket (10). However, the likes of Smith and Labuschagne steadied Australia's ship, having put them in a commanding state.
Labuschagne remained aggressive in his approach toward the close of play. He joined in the middle after Warner departed in the 10th over. The top-order batsman, who fired 91 in the first innings, finished the day with 47* off 69 deliveries. He was also acrobatic in the field, having affected a couple of run-outs (Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah).