Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb frustrated India with a gritty 86-run stand, taking Australia to 149 for four to be just three runs behind the hosts at tea on day five of the third Test here today. Australia did not concede a wicket in the session after losing two men in the morning, raising hopes of a famous India win. However, Marsh and Handscomb batted out of their skins to take their team towards safety. Handscomb looked solid in his unbeaten 44 from 115 balls (3x4), while Marsh was equally resolute in his 127-ball 38. The recovery act came after India put Australia under serious pressure by taking quick two wickets before lunch with Australia still 69 runs in arrears to avoid a first innings defeat. Ravindra Jadeja looked menacing as he used the footmark roughs brilliantly and got the prized wicket of Steve Smith. But to much astonishment, Kohli brought Jadeja into the attack only after 11 overs post lunch as Ashwin looked innocuous on the flat deck where pacers too were rendered ineffective. The return of Jadeja saw India bowling four maiden overs in a row from 50th to 53rd over. But the Aussie duo did not mind as eating up time was their main agenda and they were successful in keeping the opposition at bay in a session that yielded 66 runs from 33 overs. In a desperate attempt, India used a review unsuccessfully in the 47th over.
Handscomb survived a scare on six when his flick to short leg was nearly caught by Karun Nair.
The scenario looked much different as their back was against the wall in the first session after they resumed the final day on a precarious 23/2 in 7.2 overs.
They made it through the first one and half hour unscathed following a slow start by Smith and opener Matt Renshaw.
But India inflicted a twin blow including that of Smith after Ishant Sharma (1/24) gave the breakthrough in an eventful 29th over.
Jadeja cleaned up the Aussie skipper with a ripper to dismiss him for 21.
Smith who scored a spectacular 178 not out in the first innings to lead Australia to 451, misjudged a probing line from Jadeja with the ball pitching on middle and leg. He raised his arms to the delivery which turned viciously after landing on the roughs of the bowling footmarks to flatten his offstump.
Just in the previous over, Sharma set up Renshaw brilliantly to dismiss the left-handed Aussie opener.
REOPENS DEL 19 Noticing some activity near the sight-screen, Renshaw had pulled out from the batting crease and a livid Sharma ended up throwing the ball in his follow through. The ball landed away from Renshaw but the incident led to some exchanges between Sharma and him. Also jumping in was Steve Smith and the umpire sought immediate intervention of Indian skipper Virat Kohli to defuse the situation. Following a couple of minutes delay, Sharma finally resumed his over and charged Renshaw with a short-pitched delivery that hit the youngster's thigh pad and climbed straight up to hit the chin through the gap of the helmet grill. He followed it up with a bouncer that swung past Renshaw from a middle stump line and the opener looked under pressure. Finally the big breakthrough moment came in for India when Sharma cramped Renshaw for room with a full length delivery that trapped the left-hander right in front of the stumps. Sharma enjoyed an animated celebration and capped off the brilliant over with another nasty blow to Marsh.