Dharamsala, March 27 (IANS) Indian bowlers put up a spirited show on the third day of the fourth and final cricket Test against Australia here on Monday to give the hosts an advantage that could well clinch them the four-match series.
Pacer Umesh Yadav and the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja scalped three wickets each while medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar took one wicket to restrict the visitors to 137 in the second innings — and set a 106-run target for clinching the final cricket Test match.
The third day’s play started with Indian lower-middle order stepping up to the occasion. Resuming the day at 248/6, overnight batsmen Ravindra Jadeja (63) and Wriddhiman Saha (31) added 69 runs before the former was dismissed by pacer Pat Cummins in the 113th over.
Cummins bowled a wide length ball which Jadeja tried to drive without using his feet and guided a thick inside edge onto the stumps.
Incoming batsmen Bhuvneshwar Kumar departed in the next over without disturbing the score. He was sent packing by left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe.
Saha, who seemed good at the crease was the next one to go. He was dismissed by Cummins when the scoreboard read 318/9. His 102-ball knock contained only two boundaries.
Tailenders Umesh Yadav (2 not out) and debutant Kuldeep Yadav (7), however, added 14 runs for the last wicket to frustrate Australian bowlers and helped India get past the 330-run mark.
For Australia, spinner Nathan Lyon scalped five wickets while Cummins took three wickets.
Coming in to bat in the second innings, the visitors tried to apply themselves in the middle but failed drastically in doing so. At one point, the visitors were struggling at 92/5, with a meagre 60-run lead in the second innings.
Continuing his poor form, opener David Warner (6) again failed to provide a good start as he was the first to return to the pavilion with the visitors’ scoreboard reading 10 runs.
Incoming batsmen Steve Smith, who scored a brilliant century in the first innings, could only manage 17 runs in the second outing.
Smith was bowled by Kumar, who delivered a short ball which, taking the bottom edge, flattened the off stump.
Youngster Matt Renshaw (8) was the next batsmen to leave — sent packing in the next over by Yadav.
Middle order batsmen Peter Handscomb (18) was then sent back cheaply by Ashwin to be in commanding position.
Apart from Glenn Maxwell (45), no other batsmen, including in-form Smith, were able to understand the Indian bowling strategy.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Mathew Wade, however, tried to hold the innings towards the end but it was too late as the Indian bowlers had already rampaged through the Australian batting line-up.
Australia, scoring only 137 runs in their second outing and setting a 106-run victory-target, now face a difficult task to restrict India, who started the run chase on a positive note, with two day’s play left.
At the end of the day’s play, India had scored 19/0 and needed only 87 runs more to win the final Test — as also the four-match Test series.
Openers Murali Vijay (6) and Lokesh Rahul (13) were at the crease when the day’s play was called off.