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6.00pm: Stumps – Australia 133 for 6
WATCH: Paine walks back for 1
India put themselves on the brink of one of their finest Test victories as their bowling attack again came to the fore at the MCG to dismantle an increasingly fragile Australia top order. The success was shared equally, but Jasprit Bumrah could easily have had more than one wicket for his efforts while the spin duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja combined with great effect.
For the majority of the time in the field they were without Umesh Yadav who, after removing Joe Burns early, limped off with a calf injury that appeared to be series-threatening. The decision to pick five bowlers therefore paid off handsomely for India with Jadeja, following his vital half-century in the innings-defining stand of 121 with Ajinkya Rahane, taking two wickets as he and Ashwin allowed Bumrah and Mohammad Siraj to not be over bowled.
At the close of play, Australia had yet to score a half-century in the match. Steven Smith fell for his third single-figure score of the series – bowled behind his pads by Bumrah – and in an 66-over innings they had managed just seven boundaries. There was a dose of controversy thrown in for good measure when Tim Paine was given caught behind by the DRS, which left the Australia captain fuming as he walked off, but the protocols were followed to the letter when Sninko provided a spike where Hot Spot had shown a mark.
At that point Australia had lost 3 for 1 in 23 balls and were lurching towards a three-day defeat, but that was at least avoided as Cameron Green and Pat Cummins ground out 34 in 18 overs to ensure India will need to bat again although it remained a long way from being a recovery.
Full report to follow
5.00pm: Australia folding
This is going wrong very quickly for Australia. Travis Head played a loose shot at Mohammed Siraj’s first ball back into the attack, edging to second slip, and then Tim Paine was given out caught behind against Ravindra Jadeja. There was some controversy around the Australia captain’s dismissal which went to the DRS after being given not out on the field. Hot Spot did not show a mark, but there was a spike in Snicko which the third umpire ruled matched with the bat taking the edge. Paine could not believe the decision and walked off shaking his head. Can Australia survive the day and avoid an innings defeat?
Here’s a piece from the archives explaining why Snicko can overrule Hot Spot.
4.35pm: The spin twins
Australia are four down and still behind. India taking a firm grip on the contest. Matthew Wade was the latest to depart having played very well, eventually missing a delivery from Ravindra Jadeja that slid on and would have crashed into the stumps. He used up a review, but used his fate. Jadeja and R Ashwin have built pressure as a pair, hustling through their overs as they do so often on the subcontinent, with subtle changes of flight and pace. As hard as they have tried, Australia have not been able to break free. Cameron Green, at No. 6 in his second Test, is unlikely to have faced anything like this before.
3.55pm: Is that the moment?
WATCH: Jasprit Bumrah bowls Steven Smith around his legs
Jasprit Bumrah has made a huge inroad, bowling Steven Smith behind his pads for 8, the ball just clipping leg stump enough to dislodge the bails to the bemusement of Smith. It is Smith’s second-lowest match aggregate when dismissed twice in a Test. Australia are still significantly behind with a huge amount now on the middle order. Travis Head received a brute of a delivery first ball from Bumrah which he fended over the slip cordon and Matthew Wade has taken a blow on the helmet from another bouncer.
You always think Smith could get out like that, bowled behind the legs, but he never does. Finally Bumrah has done it #INDvsAUS
— Sambit Bal (@sambitbal) December 28, 2020
3.10pm: Tea – Australia 65 for 2
Another session of Test cricket on the edge. India have taken two wickets, Australia have slowly eaten into the deficit. Matthew Wade has done an excellent job, going against his natural attacking instincts, and so far not repeating his first-innings error. The early battle between Steven Smith and R Ashwin has been absorbing with Smith nearly falling to repeat of his opening-day dismissal when he flicked Ashwin just short of leg slip. There has been no sign of Ravindra Jadeja with the ball yet, but with Umesh Yadav who remains off the field it’s likely he will have some work in the evening session with 38 overs still to bowl.
Meanwhile, during the tea break, here’s a piece for you to read about an important moment in Australian cricket.
2.45pm: Ashwin’s beauty
WATCH: R Ashwin gets Marnus Labuschagne
R Ashwin produced a wonderful piece of bowling to remove Marnus Labuschagne as a delivery slid across him from round the wicket and was edged to slip. Now the battle with Steven Smith resumes.
Meanwhile, here’s a few more thoughts on Joe Burns from Ricky Ponting, speaking on the Channel Seven coverage:
“I said after day one if you look at Wade and Burns even in the first innings of this game, it looks to me that Wade is batting a lot better than Joe Burns. If Warner comes back then unfortunately I think right now it probably has to be Burns that goes. They stuck with him for the first Test and he did repay them in the second innings there. But the difficult thing with the Australian summer is if you leave Joe Burns out now what’s he going to do? He’s going to play Big Bash cricket, there’s no Sheffield Shield cricket to play. Even Davey Warner hasn’t played a game in a while, but he’ll slot in when he’s fit.”
2.00pm: India a bowler down
India’s hopes of pressing home their advantage have taken a blow with Umesh Yadav limping off with what looked like either a calf or ankle injury shortly after dismissing Joe Burns. He pulled up after delivering the third ball of his fourth over with Mohammed Siraj finishing the over. There could be a lot of onus on the spin of R Aswhin and Ravindra Jadeja to fill the void. Depending on how serious Yadav’s problem proves to be, it could be that India are without three of the main quicks alongside Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami.
1.25pm: Another failure for Burns
It did not take long for India to make their first breakthrough when Joe Burns edged a beauty from Umesh Yadav. To compound things he used up a review as well. If David Warner is fit for the third Test Burns’ position looks increasingly vulnerable, although we have been through this only a few weeks ago. To be fair, it was a terrific delivery from Yadav although Burns’ stay had been far from secure.
Joe Burns nearly out 3 ways (edge,bowled & lbw) worst of all takes a review with him!
Warner has found his slot if fit. #AUSvIND
— Tom Moody (@TomMoodyCricket) December 28, 2020
1.4 Yadav to Burns, 1 run, off the mark but not without a few flutters, suicidal single. Has to dive full stretch to make his crease. A direct hit from Ashwin at short mid-on and Burns would’ve been gone
2.1 Bumrah to Burns, no run, appeal, appeal, massive. Struck flush on the toe. India like what they see, they’re referring this. Searing yorker, catches Burns on the boot and is caught by surprise by the pace of the delivery. But the ball tracking comes back as ‘umpire’s call’ even though the ball was clipping the leg stump. India don’t lose a review. Burns breathes a huge sigh of relief.
3.1 Yadav to Burns, OUT, what a ball! Burns runs out of luck. Umesh with an absolute peach. India celebrate, Burns reviews as the clock strikes the 15-second mark. Given out caught behind. It’s strange that he consulted his partner, he surely knew? Hotspot says there is a spot so yeah, he’s gone. India strike early. This one was full, pitched on off and left him late as it hit the seam, Burns pushes tentatively and gets a faint edge. Wasted review, very very poor from Burns
12.25pm: Lunch – India 326 all out
WATCH: India stretch lead to 131 on third morning
India’s first innings has been wrapped up after the lower order was bombarded by short stuff. In all, from the moment Ajinkya Rahane was run out, they lost the last five wickets for 32 which will be something of a disappointment. However, the lead is a very healthy 132. Nathan Lyon helped wrap up a lower order that was softened up by the quicks, having Umesh Yadav edging to slip and Jasprit Bumrah slog sweeping to deep square leg. Australia’s second innings will begin after the interval. They are currently ranked No. 1 in Test cricket but their batting has been poor in this series so far. If it doesn’t lift, this match will be beyond them.
What’s your prediction for the result of the MCG Test? #AUSvIND
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) December 28, 2020
12.15pm: Starc goes short, a lot
India’s lower order is getting a dusting up from Mitchell Starc who has explored the middle of the pitch.
Here’s Sid Monga:
Cricket is a weird sport where you are made to do what you are not good at, and it often involves grave injury risk too. It is down to luck that a lot more tailenders don’t get injured badly by the bouncer. What we have seen in the last 15 minutes or so is a nasty short-ball barrage against tailenders who are not trained and equipped to face this kind of high-pace accurate bouncers. Mitchell Starc has hardly ever bowled these many bouncers in a spell. You wonder two things. One, are Australia just frustrated at being so far behind the game and are trying to take it out on them and possibly injure one of them. Two, have they forgotten that these Indian bowlers will give back as good as they get? I would hate to be an Australian tailender against this attack especially, as it looks more and more likely, if India are in a dominant position when the Australian bowlers come out to bat.
11.55am: Bowling again
India will have a very handy lead however many more the lower order are able to add. Then it’s back to the bowlers…
11.45am: Jadeja the batsman
11.10am: Jadeja runs out the captain
In the first Test, Ajinkya Rahane ran out Virat Kohli and now he has a dose of the same medicine after Ravindra Jadeja called him through for a quick single trying to reach his half century. Rahane was fractionally short, almost a replay of Tim Paine’s non run-out on the first day although this was clearly out, and it was a poor way to end an outstanding century. Australia have managed to dry up Jadeja’s scoring this morning and that may have played a part in him wanting to scamper a single. Paine didn’t actually think he’d got the stumps in time, so it was a bit of a surprise for him.
India’s lead, however, is touch 100 – they have only ever lost one Test from such a position: against Sri Lanka, at Galle, in 2015.
Rahane is “out” by about the same margin Paine was “in” #AusvInd
— Daniel Brettig (@danbrettig) December 28, 2020
10.15am: Australia’s missed chances
They have not been at their best in the field…
3.6 Cummins to Shubman Gill, 1 run, dropped by Labuschagne. Was fuller around off and middle, Gill was looking to play on the leg side. Got the outside edge but Labuschagne put it down at third slip. Was a sharp chance, chest-high to the right but should have been taken
12.3 Hazlewood to Shubman Gill, no run, dropped? Length ball starting well outside off and cutting Gill in half, was there an inside edge? Looks like but it swings so much that Paine had to dive it to his left. He gets there alright but cannot hold on to it
55.6 Cummins to Pant, 2 runs, squirted off a thick outside edge, Green gets a hand on it but the ball goes to ground. Would’ve been a stunner had he grabbed that. Looks like he copped it on the wrist while diving low. Came quick and low to his left. Pant and India breathe a sigh of relief
80.3 Starc to Rahane, 1 run, dropped at second slip by Steven Smith! This one burst through his hands. Rahane jams his bat down to squeeze a full delivery through point, the ball flew off the thick edge. How costly will that prove to be? The ball wobbled a great deal as it came quickly towards Smith
91.3 Starc to Rahane, no run, Oh, dear! Another dropped chance. Travis Head puts down the chance diving forward from gully. Snorter of a short ball that pings Rahane on the glove as he looks away, it lobs enough for the fielder to run in and get to the ball, but Head grassed it as his elbows touched the turf. How costly will that prove to be? He was dropped earlier on 74, now on 104
10.00am: Building on Rahane’s brilliance
A magnificent century from India’s captain has put them in control of this Test. Now it’s a question of how far they can extend their advantage. Anything upwards of 150 would make it very difficult for Australia and even where it stands now, at 82, is very handy. There will be huge pressure on the home side’s batting when it comes to their second innings. The pitch continues to offer assistance, especially with the new ball, and there are signs of increasing turn for the spinners.
Here’s Dan Brettig on a position Australia only have themselves to blame for
“This is Test batting against a quality attack in testing conditions. Errors are bound to happen, but his control percentage of 88 was remarkable”
Sid Monga writes on Ajinkya Rahane#AUSvIND
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) December 27, 2020
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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