MELBOURNE, Dec 28: A relentless India marched towards a dominant series-levelling victory after their formidable bowlers scythed through Australian batting, pressing home the advantage of a sizeable first-innings lead on the third day of the second Test, here on Monday.
Australia were wobbling at 133 for six at stumps on the third day of the Boxing Day Test at the magnificent Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Aiming to exorcise the ghosts of being bowled out for a record lowest 36 in the series-opener, the visitors had put up 326 on the board for a 131-run lead in reply to Australia�s first-innings total of 195 all out.
Australia were ahead by only two runs at close of play.
Seeking to wipe out the deficit, Australia began their second innings on a disastrous note as Joe Burns (4) not only got out for a poor score, but also wasted a review after pacer Umesh Yadav (1/5) opened him up with one that swung away very late.
Introduced early into the attack, seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (1/46) once again showed his class when he bamboozled Marnus Labuschagne (28 off 49 balls) with a slider that went straight with the angle.
Ashwin let one slid across and with the batsman looking to defend. The ball went the other way and took an outside edge on its way to Rahane at first slip.
Matthew Wade (27 batting, 89 balls) and Steve Smith (6 batting, 20 balls) survived the remaining overs prior to the tea break, which they took at 65 for two. At that point of time, the hosts trailed India by 66 runs.
More miseries awaited Australia in the final session when they lost four wickets for the addition of 68 runs, as India closed in on an equaliser in the four-match series after the humiliating defeat in the opener at Adelaide Oval.
Smith�s horror run in the series continued as he was bowled by Jasprit Bumrah (1/34) round his legs when the ball clipped the bails of the off-stump after the batsman had shuffled too much.
Wade, looking the best among Australian batsmen, was trapped in front of the wicket by Ravindra Jadeja (2/25) at 98 for four.
And while the score remained the same, Australia lost another wicket in Travis Head a couple of overs later.
There was no encore of skipper Tim Paine�s battling knock in the first Test as he was caught behind off the bowling of Jadeja.
Australia could have been seven down had Pant held on to a Pat Cummins edge off Ashwin.
Australia 1st Innings: 195
India 1st Innings: Mayank Agarwal lbw Starc 0, Shubman Gill c Paine b Cummins 45, Cheteshwar Pujara c Paine b Cummins 17, Ajinkya Rahane run out 112, Hanuma Vihari c Smith b Lyon 21, Rishabh Pant c Paine b Starc 29, Ravindra Jadeja c Cummins b Starc 57, Ravichandran Ashwin c Lyon b Hazlewood 14, Umesh Yadav c Steven Smith b Lyon 9, Jasprit Bumrah c Head b Lyon 0, Mohammed Siraj batting 0. Extras: (b-12, lb-6, w-2, nb-2) 22. Total: (All out in 115.1 overs) 326. Fall of wickets: 0-1, 61-2, 64-3, 116-4, 173-5, 294-6, 306-7, 325-8, 325-9. Bowling: Mitchell Starc 26-5-78-3, Pat Cummins 27-9-80-2, Josh Hazlewood 23-6-47-1, Nathan Lyon 27.1-4-72-3, Cameron Green 12-1-31-0.
Australia 2nd Innings: Matthew Wade lbw b Ravindra Jadeja 40, Joe Burns c Pant b Umesh 4, Marnus Labuschagne c Rahane b Ashwin 28, Steven Smith b Bumrah 8, Travis Head c Mayank Agarwal b Siraj 17, Cameron Green batting 17, Tim Paine c Pant b Ravindra Jadeja 1, Pat Cummins batting 15. Extras: (Nb-3) 3. Total: 133/6 in 66 overs. Fall of wickets: 4-1, 42-2, 71-3, 98-4, 98-5, 99-6. Bowling: Jasprit Bumrah 17-4-34-1, Umesh Yadav 3.3-0-5-1, Mohammed Siraj 12.3-0-23-1, Ravichandran Ashwin 23-4-46-1, Ravindra Jadeja 10-3-25-2. � PTI