44th over: Australia 128-2 (Labuschagne 65, Smith 36) Against Ashwin, Labuschagne is happy to play the sweep shot and gets off strike. Smith is playing upright instead, stepping back onto his stumps and turning the ball to square leg. Basically playing it off the pitch. Looks comfortable enough despite the short leg fielder standing by.
43rd over: Australia 127-2 (Labuschagne 64, Smith 36) Hmm, it appears that Bumrah is off the field. Getting some running repairs. That dropped catch from his second ball starts to look all the more important, if that was him pushing through some injury to create that chance. Siraj is bowling this over, and one keeps low. It beats the inside edge as Smith tries to force square. Tricks in the wicket if you hit just the right spot.
42nd over: Australia 126-2 (Labuschagne 63, Smith 36) A maiden from Ashwin, though it’s not like Smith isn’t trying to score. Down the track, going back, turning to leg, but can’t beat the field.
41st over: Australia 126-2 (Labuschagne 63, Smith 36) Siraj pitches up a few to Smith before going short, and Smith plays an ungainly pull shot, falling over to the off side as he shovels it down to fine leg for a run.
40th over: Australia 125-2 (Labuschagne 63, Smith 35) Down the track comes Labuschagne and drives Ashwin for four. They’ve been very specific about going after Ashwin in this Test, and this wasn’t a convincing shot: he hit it flatter than intended, so that a straighter mid-off might have caught it. But that doesn’t happen.
39th over: Australia 119-2 (Labuschagne 58, Smith 34) A couple of singles from Siraj, Australia’s lead is up to 213.
“Typing sleepily from Naples,” says Colum Fordham. “I thought Bumrah’s smile after Vihari dropped a straightforward catch from Labuschagne was the height of magnaminity. Had that been taken, it might have given the Indian team a vital lift. Both India’s quicks are bowling magnificently but, as the Aussie commentators are reiterating on my ever so slightly dodgy streaming site, catches win matches.Dropped catches invariably lead to lost matches. Not rocket science but true. Hope Ashwin can weave his magic but things looking ominous for India now.”
I don’t want to talk this game down, but I think it’s pretty well done already. This pitch is getting harder to score on, India will be eight out, all out, given their injuries, and Australia could lose eight for none right now and still be the favourites to win with more than 200 runs for India to get.
From here, the game is really whether India’s bowlers can slow the scoring so much that Australia can’t declare before tea, to reduce the time to bat for a draw. Even that’s a real long shot.
38th over: Australia 117-2 (Labuschagne 57, Smith 33) Here’s Ashwin now, the off-spinner. Bowling just outside off stump, aiming at the pads of the right-handers. Smith tucks away a single first ball, but Marnus looks vulnerable as he goes down to sweep, misses, gets hit on the pad, and survives an appeal because he’s hit outside the line of off stump. This is why that part of the Laws should go, in my opinion: the ball-tracker shows that it’s smashing off stump straight on, but the impact is outside off stump so it can’t be given out. There’s no good argument for that. Rahane was confident about the impact point, so he doesn’t send that decision up to the third umpire. Last ball of the over, a true outside edge from Labuschagne that gets him two runs.
37th over: Australia 114-2 (Labuschagne 55, Smith 32) There is some strike for Smith now, who pushes a single out to cover and runs sharply with the shot. There’s the difference between the teams: sharp decisive running, and a throw putting no pressure on the non-striker’s stumps. As opposed to what we saw yesterday, three run-outs thanks to poor judgement on one part and superb fielding technique on the other. India have not long lost a bowler in Jadeja but their best fielder by an absolute mile. No need for fielders as Siraj overpitches though, and Labuschagne drives straight for four. Lovely shot, big stride forward.
36th over: Australia 109-2 (Labuschagne 51, Smith 31) Bumrah keeps working away at the off stump of Labuschagne. A slip and a gully waiting. All defence. Another maiden. Ashwin is going to have to do a lot of work today, with Jadeja out.
35th over: Australia 109-2 (Labuschagne 51, Smith 31) Siraj follows up Bumrah with a beauty of his own, also searing past the outside edge of Labuschagne, poking the bat around off stump. After four balls he’s able to divert a single through the leg side. Smith has been facing little and scoring even less.
Fifty! Labuschagne 50 from 82 balls
34th over: Australia 108-2 (Labuschagne 50, Smith 31) It hasn’t been smooth as yet, but Marnus has gathered the two runs he needed to take his overnight score to 50. A little drive past the bowler to mid-on, saved by the fielder tumbling across. That came after the batsman had been beaten conclusively by Bumrah decking the ball away from his edge on a good length. Just didn’t get the nick.
33rd over: Australia 107-2 (Labuschagne 49, Smith 31) Siraj starting well, shifting a ball into Labuschagne that bangs him on the pad, too high, and otherwise pinning him down until the final ball of the over is inside-edged away for a scruffy single. Tall and quick is Siraj, another of these bowlers with a very whippy bowling arm.
32nd over: Australia 106-2 (Labuschagne 48, Smith 31) Bumrah continues, and maybe the next over is even more deflating than the one where the catch goes down, because Smith has to play at every ball but defends them all away with control. Any bowler in this position could be forgiven for now thinking just how long the day ahead of them might be. Can the Indians create more chances?
31st over: Australia 106-2 (Labuschagne 48, Smith 31) Mohammed Siraj with the ball from the other end, an over with just a Smith single to the leg side. Reports coming in are that Jadeja’s thumb was dislocated, not broken. When he was hit he kind of had the thumb bent back rather than smashed, so that’s a different kind of painful.
30th over: Australia 105-2 (Labuschagne 48, Smith 30) The day begins, with Bumrah gearing up to bowl again. He’s done a power of work, this wonderful bowler, and he’s tired. Only his 17th Test match but he’s carried so much work for this team on tours away from home. Still never played in India. His first ball is blocked away, his second… Labuschagne is dropped! Oh, goodness. That was a simple chance, it was the trap that India have had baited and set all tour, and Labuschagne is spared. The leg gully that has been in position especially for this pair of batsmen. Labuschagne turns the ball off his legs, gets done by some extra bounce and hits it in the air. It dips as it approaches Vihari, who only has to take one sidestep to his left and get low to receive it. But he’s not in the right spot, doesn’t watch the ball all the way in, and it hits his wrist rather than his hand and spills away. Bumrah cannot believe it. He doesn’t rage, but he just smiles and smiles and smiles to himself for the rest of the over, shaking his head each time as he walks back to his mark.
If you’d like the detailed summary of the day, there’s always me with Adam Collins doing our own wrap-ups on video each evening after play. With bonus picturesque Melbourne background and creative camera work.
Here is the wires summary from the third day, if that’s of use to you.
Get in touch
The usual style. Pop an envelope in the internet with my address on it. That’s in the sidebar, and when I’m replaced by someone else then it will change to someone else’s address. That’s how we roll. Emma Kemp is taking the second half of the day.
Hello again, it’s day four from Sydney, and from a Test series that looks very much changed by yesterday. It was a bruising day from Australia’s fast bowlers. They roughed up India on a pitch that was a bit hard to score and had some inconsistent bounce, but wasn’t hugely difficult to bat on, in theory. On a day when India were in a position to score more and match Australia’s 338, they were bowled out for 244, and it was hostility that did it as well as alertness in the field. Three run-outs and two Indian batsmen injured by the short ball, it was like a return to the way Australian teams of the past used to make tours to Australia impossible for shellshocked tourists from the subcontinent.
We resume today with Australia 197 runs ahead, at 103 for 2 in the second innings, with Smith and Labuschagne to resume. Could be a hard day for India from here. Having Rishabh Pant off the field isn’t the biggest loss, as the substitute keeper Wriddiman Saha is generally better with the gloves, but fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah looks a bit sore too, and Ravindra Jadeja was the other casualty of the short ball yesterday and can’t bowl with a fractured left thumb. Can the others rally?