Dubai: Australia rolled through the Indian batting order after lunch on Saturday to dismiss the tourists for 244 and take a 197-run first-innings lead at stumps on the third day of the third Test at Sydney Cricket Ground.
A double blow from the Australian pacemen to remove Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara in successive overs midway through the session started the rot and the final six wickets tumbled for the addition of just 49 runs.
Notwithstanding some fine fielding from the hosts, Indian fans will be most aggrieved that three of their batsmen were run out on a day when they needed to occupy the crease for as long as possible and wait for the Australian fast bowlers to tire.
Pujara needed no encouragement to do just that and while his fifth-wicket partnership with Pant was intact, India would have fancied their chances of getting close to or overhauling Australia’s first-innings 338.
Pat Cummins (4-29) inadvertently triggered the breakthrough when he struck Pant on forearm with a bouncer that left the wicketkeeper-batsman in considerable pain.
Pant never looked comfortable from then on and departed soon afterwards for 36 after edging a Cummins delivery to David Warner in the slips.
Pant was later taken to hospital for scans on his injury and will not keep wickets at the start of Australia’s second innings.
Josh Hazlewood, who brilliantly ran out Hanuma Vihari for four in the opening session, dealt the second blow to remove the obdurate Pujara caught behind for 50 runs from 176 deliveries.
Ravichandran Ashwin was the next batsman out, ambling down the wicket when called for a single by Ravindra Jadeja with Cummins at mid-off making sure he was punished.
All-rounder Jadeja scored 28 not out as the tail-end wickets tumbled around him but took a nasty blow on his thumb which might constrain his bowling.
In reply, Australia lost David Warner (13) and Will Pucovski (10) before Marnus Labuschagne (47*) and Steve Smith (29*) to take Australia to 103 for two at stumps.
The hard-fought series is tied 1-1 after the first two Tests in Adelaide and Melbourne, with the final clash scheduled to start in Brisbane next week.
Cricket Australia are pressing ahead with plans to conclude the series at the Gabba despite reports of concerns in the India camp over what level of quarantine they will be forced to endure in Brisbane, which went into three days of lockdown on Friday after a COVID-19 case was found in the city.