A depleted Indian attack shrugged off an injury to paceman Umesh Yadav to rout Australia’s batsmen and set up a platform for a series-levelling victory on day three of the second test on Monday. Losing Umesh to a calf injury after lunch, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja chipped in with two wickets and seamers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj took one apiece to leave Australia 133 for six at stumps, clinging to a lead of two runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Raw all-rounder Cameron Green, 17 not out, and tailender Pat Cummins, on 15, showed defiance to shut India’s bowlers out late in the day but Australia face a massive task to set the tourists a proper chase. Australia chased down 90 for victory to win the first test in three days in Adelaide, but their batsmen have failed to surpass 200 in the other three innings of the series.
Most alarmingly, star batsman Steve Smith’s form woes have been starkly exposed, with Bumrah bowling him around his legs for eight on Monday shortly after the teabreak. Smith is yet to reach double figures this series, with scores of one and one not out in Adelaide, and a duck in the first innings in Melbourne.
India, anchored by Ajinkya Rahane’s inspirational century on day two, were bowled out for 326 before lunch in reply to Australia’s first innings 195. With Smith and opener Matthew Wade at the crease, Australia had resumed at 65 for two after tea, still hopeful of mowing down a 66-run deficit and setting India a task for victory.
Yet Bumrah nipped their 29-run partnership in the bud by bowling Smith and then sent a short ball crashing into the back of Wade’s helmet, the lefthander ducking and turning his head in a fruitless attempt to dodge it. Wade was soon given out lbw by Jadeja for 40 and blew the second of Australia’s reviews before departing.
Rahane paid tribute to his bowlers but said there was work still to be done. “You want to back your gut feelings and go about it. The bowlers bowled really well and bowled in the right areas,” he told broadcasters.
“We still got four wickets to go, the game is not over yet. We have to come back tomorrow, bowl in the right areas and get the victory.” Cummins and Green dug in admirably but were lucky to stay intact. Cummins was dropped on 11 by recalled wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant after nicking spinner Ravichandran Ashwin behind the wicket.
Australia have a litany of problems to confront. Joe Burns’ place at the top of the order is in jeopardy after another cheap dismissal, the opener caught behind for four off Umesh and then blowing a review seeking to overturn it.
The out-of-form Queenslander also lasted only 10 balls in the first innings before being caught behind for a duck off Bumrah. Marnus Labuschagne, who made 48 in the first innings, made another bright start but was outpointed by Ashwin to be out for 28 with an edge to slip.
Earlier, Rahane’s knock ended in the morning when Jadeja ran him out for 112 when he went for a single that was never there. It was a deflating end to a sparkling innings but Rahane is unlikely to hold a grudge given Jadeja’s wickets exposed Australia’s tail. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)