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India steady in chase of 133 in 3rd Test against Australia
Mohali, Mar 18 (PTI) 14:38 IST
India's spinners once again worked their magic as they set the hosts on course to achieving their best-ever series win over Australia, who were left trying to salvage a draw in the third cricket Test here today.
Resuming on 75 for three, the Australians were bundled out for 223 in their second innings, setting India an achievable target of 133 to win in a minimum of 27 overs on the fifth and final day at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium.
At tea, India were 30 for no loss, needing another 103 runs to clinch the four-match series, which the hosts lead 2-0 after convincing wins in Chennai and Hyderabad.
Murali Vijay was batting on 19 and giving him company was Cheteshwar Pujara (10), opening the innings in place of the Shikhar Dhawan, who could not take to the field on the final day due to a finger injury.
If India require him to bat, Dhawan would not be allowed to come before number seven. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was once again the most effective bowler for the hosts, returning impressive figures of three for 35 -- all his three wickets, including that of Australian skipper Michael Clarke, coming on the final day.
There were two wickets apiece for fellow left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha and off-break bowler Ravichandran Ashwin. Ashwin leads the wickets tally in the series with 22 scalps, followed by Jadeja, who has 17 to his name, reflecting the Indian spinners' dominance.
Young paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar had taken three wickets last evening to rock the Australian top-order. India grabbed the remaining seven Australian wickets in the two sessions while giving away 148 runs.
Ashwin and Jadeja finished the innings after the last-wicket pair of Mitchell Starc (35) and Xavier Doherty added 44 runs in 65 minutes, and more importantly, consuming 18 overs.
Nathan Lyon, Michael Clarke, overnight batsman Phillip Hughes (69), Mosies Henriques, Peter Siddle, Brad Haddin and Starc were the batsmen to have been dismissed today, which left India within sniffing distance of winning their third straight Test against Australia. SPORT-AUS-LD TEA 2 LAST India, since playing their first official match 81 years ago in 1932, have never won more than two matches against Australia in the longer format of the game.
Jadeja again turned out to be the star performer for India, picking up the wickets of Henriques and Clarke before lunch – this was the fifth time in six outings that the Saurashtra player had taken the Australian skipper's wicket.
He then packed off the innings by claiming Starc's wicket Earlier, after night-watchman Lyon was caught behind off Ojha for the day's first wicket in the innings' 28th over, in walked Clarke, who demoted himself in the batting order due to a recurring sore back.
Clarke survived 49 balls for his 18 while hitting three boundaries, before Jadeja came back to get his bunny, caught at forward short-leg by Pujara who held on the catch after the Aussie got an inside edge onto his pads.
There was some confusion over his dismissal, but the umpire checked with the third umpire to clear his doubts.
In a deep hole at 119 for five and with their captain gone, a bad decision by Aleem Dar only added to Australia's woes.
Ravichandran Ashwin hit Hughes on the pads but the ball pitched outside leg and didn't straighten enough to hit the stumps.
Woefully out of form prior to this innings, Hughes dug in for 165 minutes before becoming a victim of a bad decision. He struck 11 fours and a six during his 147-ball 69 at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium.
Jadeja then pulled off a blinder of a catch to dismiss Henriques. After luring the batsman to go for it, Jadeja stretched full-length to his left to pull off a diving catch.
After being lofted over long-off for a six by Peter Siddle, Ojha had his man when he knocked over his off-stump to leave Australia stuttering at 143 for eight before lunch.