Umesh Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin's early strikes strengthened India's position in the Boxing Day Test as Australia lost two early wickets in their second innings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Monday.
Australia witnessed a poor start to their second innings as Umesh dismissed Joe Burns in the fourth over, bringing in Marnus Labuschagne on the field to join Matthew Wade. Both provided their side with some momentum till Ashwin cut short their partnership by dismissing Labuschagne (28).
Labuschagne's dismissal brought Steve Smith out in the middle. Wade played a slow-paced inning, denying the visitor any more breakthroughs. Up till tea break on day three, Australia was at 65/2 with Wade (27) and Smith (6) on the field. The host are trailing by 66 runs.
Earlier in the day, resuming day three from 277/5, India got off to a decent start but just when things appeared to be going well for the visitor, skipper Ajinkya Rahane got run out while attempting a risky single.
Meanwhile, Ravindra Jadeja hit his 15th half-century as India extended their lead by 100 runs. However, in order to add some quick runs, Jadeja went for the big shot off Mitchell Starc but found Pat Cummins in the deep.
Umesh and Ashwin then stitched a brief stand of 19 runs before India lost their third wicket of the day. Nathan Lyon dismissed Umesh in the 114th over. With the intent of scoring quick runs, the visitor started losing wickets at quick intervals and slipped from 294/6 to 326/10. But India had managed to gain a significant first-innings lead of 131 runs.
On day two, Rahane and Jadeja had put India in the drivers' seat against Australia at stumps. The host might have scalped wickets of India's top-order, but in the final session of day two, Rahane and Jadeja showed grit and determination to give India firm control of the match. On day one, India had bundled out Australia for 195 as Jasprit Bumrah scalped four wickets while Ashwin took three wickets.
Brief Scores: India 326 (Ajinkya Rahane 112, Ravindra Jadeja 57; Mitchell Starc 3/78) vs Australia 195, 65/2 (Marnus Labuschagne 28, Matthew Wade 27*, Umesh Yadav 1/5).
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