India is heading towards a memorable series leveling victory at the MCG with the tourists laying waste to a fragile Australian higher order in the second round.
Australia finished the third day of the Boxing Day event 133-6, leading by two races with four wickets in hand.
Up-and-coming off-roader Cameron Green (17 not out) and Pat Cummins (15 out) will be held responsible for the difficult rescue mission when play resumes Tuesday.
Little went well for Australia in a disastrous final session, losing four of 68, and captain Tim Paine possibly on the wrong side of a controversial DRS decision.
India reviewed the court referee’s decision after Paine attempted to cut the Ravindra Jadeja roulette wheel.
Replays showed nothing at hotspot, but a slight increase in snicko as the ball passed over Paine’s bat was enough for third referee Paul Wilson to throw out number 7.
India lost 49-5 in the first session, claiming a 131-run lead in the first inning, which could have been more if it weren’t for Captain Ajinkya Rahane’s calamitous exit for a valiant 112.
While India was frustrated at not publishing more than 326, a lower-order collapse has cost them nothing.
All five Indian bowlers took ground, highlighted by speedy Jasprit Bumrah claiming Steve Smith’s prized scalp to continue the most troubling fall of the Australian star’s career.
The world’s number one test hitter fell in eighth place, with the ball slicing through the top of Smith’s leg stump in a rare dismissal.
The 31-year-old is enduring the worst series of his career averaging 3.3 two games in the four-round contest.
Smith starred in the ODI series for two centuries in November, but raised concerns about a back injury in the first test and has since seemed like a shadow of his old self.
But the batting concerns don’t end with Smith, as Australia has not posted a score of more than 195 in four innings in this series.
Joe Burns’ second failure in the game has seriously jeopardized the starter’s international career.
The Queenslander followed his duck in the first inning with a scratchy four, being caught behind fast Indian Umesh Yadav.
Inexplicably, Burns opted to challenge the referee’s decision, burning one of Australia’s criticisms after replays showed a clear hot spot on his bat.
Number 5 Travis Head (17) was caught in the second slip after cutting into a wide delivery, and South Australia again failed to capitalize on a promising start.
Makeshift starter Matthew Wade was the only Australian batsman to show courage, facing 137 balls, the sixth most deliveries he has faced in test cricket, for the highest score of 40.
What makes India’s performance all the more remarkable is the speed with which they have recovered from their low record of 36 at the Adelaide Oval.
India made four changes, including the forced omission of Virat Kohli, but has been led in style by Rahane.
The tourists’ only concern is an injury to the leg of Yadav, who limped off the field in the middle of his fourth lap.
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