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India sniff big win as Australia struggle at 44/2


Press Trust of India Melbourne
Chasing 399 for an improbable win, Australia were reduced to 44 for two at lunch on the fourth day of the third Test against India here on Saturday.
This was after India declared their second innings at 106 for eight with Pat Cummins taking career-best figures of 6/27.
At the break, Shaun Marsh was unbeaten on 2 with Usman Khawaja batting on 6, as the hosts need another 355 runs.
Needing to bat five and a half sessions to save the match, Australia didn't get off to the best start as Aaron Finch (3) edged Jasprit Bumrah (1-12) to second slip in the second over.
Mayank Agarwal couldn't latch on to a tough chance at short leg off Khawaja three balls later otherwise it would have been an even poorer start.
The batsman then added 27 runs for the second wicket with Marcus Harris (13). The duo checked their shot selection, even as India wasted a review against Khawaja in Ravindra Jadeja's (1-20) first over.
Jadeja struck in the 10th over though as a bat-pad chance got stuck under Agarwal's arm at short leg and Harris had to walk back, causing further trouble for Australia.
Earlier, India had batted 52 minutes and extended their second innings from overnight 54 for five even as threat of rain loomed large.
Play started on time though and India were batting with a plan to reach the 400-lead mark as quickly as possible.
Mayank Agarwal (42) opened up with a couple sixes off Nathan Lyon (0-40) and made intentions clear, but was bowled off Cummins before he could get a second half-century in his maiden Test.
Rishabh Pant (33) and Ravindra Jadeja (5) threw their bats around to add 17 runs. They didn't waste time in farming strike, with Cummins missing out on his five-wicket haul when Tim Paine dropped Pant early in the session.
He returned to pick up his sixth wicket when Jadeja gloved a catch to gully, beating his previous best of 6-79 against South Africa back in 2011.
India declared with Pant's dismissal in the 38th over.
The visitors had scored 443/7 declared in the first innings thanks to Cheteshwar Pujara's 17th Test hundred. Jasprit Bumran then picked career-best figures of 6/33 as Australia were bowled out for 151 runs in reply on day three, conceding a 292-run lead.
The four-match series is level at 1-1 after India won the first Test in Adelaide by 31 runs and Australia claimed the second in Perth by 146 runs.

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First Published: Dec 29 2018 | 7:20 AM IST

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