(Updates to tea)
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE, Dec.28 (Reuters) – India struck with two wickets to reduce Australia to 65-for-two at tea, with the hosts still 66 points behind after Ajinkya Rahane’s side were sacked for 326 on day three of the second test in Melbourne on Monday.
Opening batsman Matthew Wade was 27 and Steve Smith was on six on a sunny afternoon at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Joe Burns’ place at the top of the Australian order is in jeopardy after another cheap layoff, the former trapped for four years after planting a benefit from a lavish delivery of Umesh Yadav that pulled away late in the seam.
Burns compounded the setback by wasting a review trying to overturn the decision, with “Hot Spot” technology showing a clear mark on the edge of his bat.
In an excruciating 10-ball shot, Burns had already survived an almost suicidal run for a single to stand out and a lbw review for Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling alley.
The out of form Queensland right-hander had also lasted just 10 balls in the opening innings before being caught by a duck off Bumrah.
Labuschagne, who clocked 48 in the opening heats, got off to another strong start with a more circumspect Wade but Ravichandran Ashwin stifled the budding partnership shortly after the drink break.
Framed by a ball of awkward length, the number three Australian Labuschagne pushed defensively and hit Rahane directly on the slip.
India also squandered a review trying to fire Wade for losing bowling to newbie paceman Mohammed Siraj.
Ashwin, who fired Smith for a duck in the opening innings and for an inning in the series opener in Adelaide, nearly got his man back when the star Aussie batsman struck just ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara in the leg.
Lefty Wade survived a similar gash that bounced off his pads and landed right next to a short leg.
After picking up the 277 for five in response to the opening rounds of Australia 195, India lost its last five wickets before lunch.
Ravindra Jadeja missed Rahane for 112, hitting short cover and taking off for a single that was never really there.
Labuschagne took a dive and captain Tim Paine whipped the bail with Rahane a few inches away.
Softened by Mitchell Starc’s bouncers, Jadeja (57) pulled the left arm towards the deep midwicket where Pat Cummins rushed forward and knelt down to take a nice, low grip.
Ashwin scored a 14, but India’s tail collapsed quickly, with spinner Nathan Lyon and paceman Josh Hazlewood closing the innings.