Australia left off from Day 3 yesterday at 133/6. But have a lot of work to as they are just two runs ahead. India would want to limit right now as they can. They have a much better chance of winning. Batting again will be required. But finishing the game off? Probably not too hard indeed.
Unless India do want to repeat from Adelaide. And get out quicksmart. I will come back if this happens again. Pat Cummins unable to hold on when he got caught for 22. Great encouragement when the Top 5 unable to get it right. He did not give enough room where Mayank Agarwal catched at slip. The same goes from the all-rounder in Cam Green at 6.
It is a joy of seeing these players excel in both bat & ball. Not just Cam Green himself. But also Dasun Shanaka for Sri Lanka who scored a quick fire 50 early in Day 2. And Wiaan Mulder for South Africa with the lions share of wickets. As well as a brilliant start off the bat. Both Cam & Wiaan is not as close as Dasun regarding the scores. But they should come off good in the long haul. Cam and Wiaan will face off each other in Tests maybe in March.
Cam unfortunately pulled the trigger so early without maximum distance. It landed straight to Ravi Jadeja at midwicket with his closure on 45. Mo Siraj not only claimed Cam first up this AM. He quickly struck his second scalp in Nathan Lyon on just 3 runs. That leaves both frontline bowlers scrambling to add the run lead tally. The umpire granted an extra half hour to give India time to close the 3rd innings. And that extension eventually worked. Ravi Ashwin clean bowled Josh Hazlewood out for 10. Before Australia all out for 200 at the lunch break. India will bat again needing just 70 runs to win.
Australia may have boosted their hopes a bit from scratch. They were able to remove Mayank Agarwal. And Cheteshwar Pujara in very short space of time. Thanks to the respective quicks of Mitch Starc & Pat Cummins. But the task for India to nail down the 70 target is not difficult. You saw a steady start from new opener Shubman Gill (35). As well as the centurion from the 1st innings in Ajinkya Rahane (27).
Not only India closed this game by eight wickets. They also get to tie with Australia 1-1. Two matches are ticked off as there is another two games left in this series. We will wait and see if the 3rd Test would go to Sydney. It will be depend considering the recent COVID cases hit around here.
I am pleased with how India coped without Virat Kohli. Their bowling attack is top notch. Jasprit Bumrah continues to lead the pack via his pace. Mo Siraj brings a new seam option after the injury from Mo Shami. He supported Jasprit well to share the workload. I can see the same coming from both Ravis in Ashwin and Jadeja.
The early work to dent the Australia Top 6 early is incredible. Not only India prevented them from going in and out of 200. They are also able to get their batting right. Especially with Shubman Gill in for Privthi Shaw. And Ajinkya Rahane has more control at 4 than at 5. It backed up his illustrious score in the 1st spell. I also want to add credit Ravi Jadeja who kept his game simple. He was able to get the sword no matter how long Ravi gets his 50. It is all about timing & teamwork.
I do feel sorry for the Australian bowlers to carry the heavy lifting. Not only they secured the crucial wickets. But stuck in there do desperately to add the runs. It is a uphill task unfortunately due to the mess created by the Top 5. I would not blame Matthew Wade. And new all-rounder Cam Green. Guys like Joe Burns, Travis & Steve Smith face the music. No consistency seen under these three over the last 3-4 days. That is where the selectors have to think about immediately.
Dave Warner is back batting in the nets after sidelined with a groin strain. He is ready to return. And that would be at the expense of Joe Burns. Wadey can be the new Chris Rogers there as his new opening partner. So an all-lefty pair is fine ahead of Marnus who is right hand at 3.
And I want to add some notes about Steve Smith. He just hit the 30s mark. He is still one of the best batsman in the world. He is undroppable even though he admitted punishment once. But his series form so far v India tells otherwise. Do we want to drop him out? or Do we give another go?
People would go uproar if selectors leave him out. It will be like the squad will be weakened without his skillset. That is a no brainer. My advice would be to get Ben McDermott to slot in at No.4. He has the T20 talents to translate in the red ball game. And maybe Smith would be given another reprieve at No.5. It would be time to get used to his new role there. And maybe it would help Smith extend his International Test career.