A relentless India marched to a dominant series-level victory after their formidable bowlers were riddled by Australian hitters and drove home the advantage of a significant first-inning lead on the third day of the second Test, here on Monday. Australia staggered at 133 to six by stumps on the third day of the Boxing Day Test at the beautiful Melbourne Cricket Ground. Aiming to avert the ghosts of the ejection for a record-lowest 36 in the series opener, the visitors had put 326 on the board for a 131-point lead in response to the total of 195 all-out in the first innings of Australia.
Australia was only two points ahead at the end of the game. In an effort to catch up, Australia started their second innings on a disastrous note, as Joe Burns (4) not only got a bad score, but also wasted a review after pacer Umesh Yadav (1/5) opened it with one . that waved away very late.
The seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (1/46), introduced early on the attack, once again showed his class when he wowed Marnus Labuschagne (28 of 49 balls) with a slider that went right with the corner .
Ashwin slipped one over and the batsman tried to defend it. The ball went the other way and took an outside edge on its way to Rahane on the first slip.
Matthew Wade and Steve Smith survived the remaining overs ahead of the tea break, which they took at 65 for two.
At that point, the hosts followed India with 66 runs.
Australia faced more misery in the final session when they lost four wickets before adding 68 runs, as India neared an equalizing goal in the four-game run after the humiliating defeat in the opener at Adelaide Oval.
Smith’s horror run in the series continued when he was thrown around his legs by Jasprit Bumrah (1/34) when the ball snipped the bail off the off-stump after the batsman shook too much.
Wade, looking the best among the Australian batsmen, was locked up for the wicket by Ravindra Jadeja (2/25) at 98 for four. And while the score remained the same, Australia lost another wicket at Travis Head a few overs later.
There was no encore from skipper Tim Paine’s fighting knock in the first test when he was caught behind Jadeja’s bowling.
Australia could have been down seven if Pant held on to a Pat Cummins edge at Ashwin. But India is also concerned, as Umesh limped off the field after a calf injury in the eighth innings.
While throwing his fourth overboard, the pacemaker complained of pain in his calf and was taken for scans after being assessed by the BCCI medical team.
Previously, India managed to ride captain Ajinkya Rahane’s stylish hundred and Ravindra Jadeja’s 15th half century, enough to put pressure on Australia despite losing their five remaining wickets for just 49 runs after resuming the day at 277 for five.
Jadeja (57) added 121 runs for the sixth wicket with skipper Rahane, whose vigil came to one when he was up, his first in Tests, after making a stylish 112 using 12 boundaries in 223 balls.
The call came from Jadeja and the run-out was unnecessary, but nevertheless the all-rounder looked solid in the middle before being put down by a Mitchell Starc (3/78 in 26 overs).
The Australian fast left-arm bowler tested Jadeja with a barrage of short balls and the trick worked when the all-rounder pulled one straight to the deep midfielder for a polished 57 with three borders and his signature sword celebration.
On day 3, MCG field barely holding demons, the Australian bowlers failed to pose a serious threat to the well-settled Indian batting duo of Rahane and Jadeja.
The hosts desperately needed a wicket and considering how Rahane had hit it had to be a runout.
For nearly half his century, Jadeja headed for an unnecessary single after playing towards short cover and Rahane responded positively instead of sending him back, but narrowly managed to hold his own at the end of the striker, despite giving his best shot.
That fed back India as Australia looked to push its way back. Nathan Lyon (3/72 in 27.1 overs) and Josh Hazlewood (1/47 in 23 overs) then polished the tail.
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