#INDvAUS, 3rd Test: Jadeja gets all-important wicket of Smith, India inch closer to victory – Resuming at 23/2 and needing a further 129 to avoid an innings defeat, Australia reached Lunch on Day 5 at 83/4, still trailing India by 69 runs.
Australian captain Steve Smith (R) is bowled by Ravindra Jadeja as Indian wicketkeeper wriddhiman Saha (C) reacts during the fifth day of the third Test match at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) Stadium complex in Ranchi on March 20, 2017 (AFP)
Australia battled for survival as Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma picked up a wicket each in successive overs to take India closer to victory in the third and penultimate Test in Ranchi on Monday. Resuming at 23/2 and needing a further 129 to avoid an innings defeat, Australia reached Lunch on Day 5 at 83/4, still trailing India by 69 runs.
The visitors began the pre-lunch session cautiously. They blocked whatever was sent down to them, Jadeja operating non-stop from the southern end to make the most of the rough patch outside the left-hander’s off-stump while pacers Umesh Yadav and Sharma operated from the other end. Virat Kohli kept off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin away from the attack for a major part of the first two hours this morning and operated with spin and pace on either ends. Ashwin was brought in to the attack for one over just before lunch.
Overnight not out opener Matt Renshaw and No 4 Steve Smith, who took the crease fresh after Australia lost their second wicket to the last ball on Sunday, survived the first hour. Some of Yadav’s deliveries kept low while Sharma bowled outside the off-stump consistently to Smith, who was happy to let them go untouched.
With about half-an-hour to go for lunch, an act of madness by the two Aussie batsmen at the crease eventually led to their own downfall within the space of four deliveries. Rather than focussing on saving the Test, they lost their concentration by entering in some exchange of words with Sharma.
As Sharma was sprinting to deliver the second delivery of his fifth over from round the wicket, the tall left-hander pulled back. In his stride, Sharma threw the ball to the wicketkeeper outside the off-stump that travelled far away from Renshaw.
As Sharma turned back to the top of his run-up, non-striker Steve Smith said something to which Sharma reacted. Umpires had to intervene as Ajinkya Rahane, from mid-on ran in to pat the Indian pacer on the back and pull him away. Meanwhile, Renshaw delayed the proceedings by walking up to the centre of the pitch and pointed something at Sharma.
All these fired up Sharma, who sent hostile next few deliveries to Renshaw, who had no clue, the short ball missing him. In the same over, Sharma dismissed the 20-year-old left-hander with one that came in after pitching and at the same time stayed low, trapping him in front of the middle stump, and celebrated wildly by pumping both his fists.
Off the first ball of the next over, Jadeja dismissed first innings centurion Smith with one that pitched just outside leg-stump and turned sharply. Smith misjudged the turn and was bowled as he offered no stroke and flatten the off-stump.
Australia stare at defeat as Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh have a tough task on hand, and will have to face a lot of overs from spinners Ashwin and Jadeja, who bowled unchanged from one end for a morning spell of 14.4-8-16-1.
Brief scores (at Lunch): Australia 451 & 83/4 in 36 overs (S Marsh 15*, P Handscomb 4*; R Jadeja 3/22, I Sharma 1/22) vs India 603/9dec