Australia will begin the final day 16 runs behind with seven wickets remaining in the third Test against India. Huge centuries by openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan put the hosts on top in Mohali and, despite Peter Siddle taking five for 71, Virat Kohli’s unbeaten half-century saw them to 499, a first-innings lead of 91.
At 2-0 down, Australia must find a way to win the match to keep the four-match series alive and Phillip Hughes’ aggressive half-century, coupled with three wickets for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, raised hope of a result one way or the other as they finished the day 75 for three.
After the pyrotechnics of on Saturday, when he scored the quickest century ever by a Test debutant, Dhawan’s departure was surprisingly low-key as, having added only one to his overnight 186, he pushed forward in defence to Nathan Lyon and succeeded only in prodding the ball straight into the hands of Ed Cowan at silly point.
Cheteshwar Pujara followed for one when he was adjudged lbw to Siddle by umpire Aleem Dar, although replays showed an inside edge. Vijay, though, was unruffled and fours in successive overs from Siddle and Lyon took him to three figures. Sachin Tendulkar settled in at the other end, lifting Lyon for four and elegantly driving Mitchell Starc to the boundary and, when he drove Moises Henriques for four between cover and mid-off, he looked to be at his absolute best.
It was therefore something of a surprise when he edged Steve Smith’s first ball of the day to short leg, but it did not change the fact India remained in control. Vijay was on 142 at the interval and boundaries off Xavier Doherty and Smith took him past 150 for the second successive innings, following his 167 in the second Test at Hyderabad.
But both he and Mahendra Singh Dhoni were trapped lbw by Starc inswingers and Ravindra Jadeja endured an edgy start against the left-armer before falling to Siddle for eight, caught by keeper Brad Haddin.
Kolhi stays unbeaten
Ishant Sharma edged a fourth catch to Haddin before Siddle beat Pragyan Ojha for pace to take his fifth wicket, with Kohli stranded on 67. In reply, David Warner’s only runs came when an edge squirted low through Ashwin at slip for two off the second ball of the innings from Kumar, before he nicked the third to Dhoni.
Hughes grew in confidence with authoritative boundaries off Sharma and Ashwin but Cowan fell for eight, the victim of a marginal lbw call as Kumar took his second wicket. His third came when he knocked over Smith’s off stump with a fine outswinger and he ended the day with three for 25.
Smith had come in ahead of captain Michael Clarke, who was struggling with back pain and remained in the pavilion as Lyon emerged as
nightwatchman. Hughes completed a 50-ball half-century, laden with boundaries but not always convincing, when he edged Ashwin for a ninth four to go with a six off Jadeja and he and Lyon remained together at stumps.
Australia: 408 & 75-3 (Phillip Hughes 53 not out; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3-25).
India: 499 all out (Shikhar Dhawan 187, Murali Vijay 153; Peter Siddle 5-71)