Pat Cummins has given Australia the perfect opportunity to take the lead in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after again knocking down India’s great wall. Cummins removed Cheteshwar Pujara for the fourth time in three Tests this summer on a horror Saturday for the tourists, taking 4-29 to leave India all out for 244.
Australia then went to stumps on day three at 103-2 in their second innings, leading by 197, with Marnus Labuschagne not out on 47 and Steve Smith 29. The pair put on a crucial 68 for the third wicket after Will Pucovski (10) and David Warner (13) fell early. Smith drove through the covers gloriously after doing likewise in his first-innings 131, while Labuschagne pounced on anything short.
It capped a disastrous day for India with Ravindra Jadeja (thumb) and Risabh Pant (elbow) both needing scans from blows suffered batting, while three other men were run out.
But it was Cummins’ heroics that gave Australia the chance to break the 1-1 deadlock with one game to play.
Pujara was India’s stonewall on their triumphant tour two summers ago, but this series he has continually been beaten down by Cummins. He scored the slowest half-century of his career on Saturday from 174 balls, but went two balls later when one from Cummins got big on him, brushed his glove, and carried through to Tim Paine. Australia’s attack leader now has the figures of 4-19 from 21 overs against Pujara this summer.
It wasn’t the only blow the vice-captain landed. He started the day by forcing Ajinkya Rahane to chop on for 22, seaming one back at India’s skipper as he went to late cut. After removing Shubman Gill on day two, he also inflicted the pain to Pant’s elbow before Hazlewood had the beleaguered wicketkeeper edging shortly after on 36. Neither Pant nor Jadeja – who was hit on his left thumb by Starc – returned to the field.
Cummins then did the job in the field to run out Ravichandran Ashwin during a collapse of 5-21. Ashwin first hesitated and then failed to put in a final effort through the crease in what should have been an easy single.
Jasprit Bumrah also fell short of his ground to a brilliant direct hit from Marnus Labuschagne, who chased a ball from short leg, slid and threw down the stumps.
But even that wasn’t as good as the effort from Hazlewood in the morning session. Mid-spell, the 196cm quick moved low to his right to intercept a drive, throwing in one motion as he fell to claim a direct hit and catch Hanuma Vihari well short.
Meanwhile the day’s other flashpoint came when Australia were unsuccessful in having Pujara caught at bat-pad off Nathan Lyon. The decision, after footage was obscured and there was no definite spike on hot spot, infuriated Paine who asked umpire Paul Wilson for some “f***ing consistency”.