Rohit Sharma of India looks dejected after being dismissed by Pat Cummins of Australia during day four of the Test match in the series between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Australia, January 10 2021. Picture: RYAN PIERSE/GETTY IMAGES
Rohit Sharma of India looks dejected after being dismissed by Pat Cummins of Australia during day four of the Test match in the series between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Australia, January 10 2021. Picture: RYAN PIERSE/GETTY IMAGES

Sydney — India were 98/2 in their desperate rearguard action at the close of play on the fourth day of the third Test on Sunday, still 308 runs behind Australia and a full day’s batting away from saving the match.

Openers Shubman Gill (31) and Rohit Sharma (52) were winkled out by the Australian pace attack in the final session, leaving Cheteshwar Pujara, who had scored nine not out, and skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who was unbeaten on four, to continue the fight.

With no rain forecast for Monday, the tourists face a long day batting on a deteriorating wicket if they are to avoid going 2-1 down in the series before they head to Brisbane for the final Test.

Australia had declared at tea on 312/6 on the back of a maiden Test half-century from all-rounder Cameron Green (84) along with useful contributions from Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith.

That left India needing 407 runs to win the match, an improbable target given the highest successful fourth-innings run chase at Sydney Cricket Ground was the 288/2 Australia scored to beat SA in 2005-6.

India were missing Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm spin bowling and Rishabh Pant behind the stumps after they sustained a dislocated thumb and an elbow injury respectively on Saturday.

Paceman Jasprit Bumrah was again the pick of the Indian bowlers and would have dismissed Labuschagne off the second delivery of the day had Hanuma Vihari held onto the catch at square leg. Sharma later helped Tim Paine avoid a duck when he dropped a catch off Bumrah in the slips, the Australia skipper going on to make 39 not out.

The rest of Australia’s runs came from the usual suspects with Labuschagne making the most of his reprieve to notch up his 10th half-century in 17 Tests with an innings of 73.

Smith, who scored 131 in the first innings, looked to be heading for another century when Ravichandran Ashwin referred an lbw decision to the umpire decision review system and the batsman was sent on his way for 81, the third time in the series he has fallen to the spinner.

Green was caution itself before reaching the half-century mark, but then accelerated with the declaration in sight, plundering four big sixes before getting a faint edge to a Bumrah delivery.

Reuters

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