Ravindra Jadeja bagged three crucial wickets in the morning session of the 3rd Test of the India vs Australia series to restrict the visitors to a total of 401/7 at lunch, with Australian skipper Steve Smith (150*) and tail-ender Steve O’Keefe (1*) at the crease in Ranchi.
Smith and Glenn Maxwell (104) continued where they left off overnight, plundering runs and quickly bought up Australia over the 300-run mark, taking advantage of Virat Kohli’s absence as they exploited the field set by Indian vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane with consummate ease.
Kohli, who had taken part in some warm-up drills earlier in the day, was watching proceedings from the team box and would have been praying for a miracle to remove the well-set duo of Smith and Maxwell.
And soon after scoring his first Test ton, Maxwell departed after edging Jadeja’s deliver to Wriddhiman Saha to end a well-constructed innings. If India thought a collapse was imminent, they were sorely mistaken as Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade struck a brisk 37 off just 50 balls to take the visitors close to the 400-run mark.
While the wicketkeeper eventually fell to that man Jadeja again, edging on to Saha, the damage was done.
For while Pat Cummins didn't last long, two balls to be precise, with Jadeja the star-man for India yet again, Australia inched past the 400-run mark and with Steve Smith still on the crease, Ajinkya Rahane and co face an uphill battle to rescue the Test.
Their target must be to wrap up the Australian tail in the hour after lunch and get plenty of batting time as opposed to starting their innings later in the day when chances of losing a few wickets is high.