|Third Test, Sydney Cricket Ground (Day Four)|
|Australia 338 & 312-6: Green 84, Smith 81, Lapusakne 73|
|India 244 & 98-2: Rohit52|
|India still need 309 runs to win|
India face a tough task to avoid defeat after finishing the fourth day of the third Test against Australia 98-2 and need to win by 309 runs.
The hosts resumed 103-2 before declaring 312-6, with India 407 unlikely to win in Sydney.
All-rounder Cameron Green scored 84, Steve Smith 81 and Marnus Lapusakne 73.
India’s chase got off to a good start, with Shubman Gill scoring 31 and Rohit Sharma 52.
Sadeshwar Pujara and captain Ajinkya Rahane are unbeaten on nine and four respectively, but need to form a substantial partnership to help their team bat for a draw on the final day or pull off a significant victory.
The highest fourth innings chase at Sydney Cricket Ground was 288, which Australia did in 2006 against South Africa.
The four-match series is currently 1-1, with the final Test in Brisbane starting on January 15.
The fourth day was marred by an incident where the game was stopped 10 minutes just before tea after Indian fast bowler Mohammad Siraj warned the umpires that he had been abused by a section of the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Six people were subsequently evacuated by police.
The International Cricket Council is investigating allegations of racist abuse Cricket Australia has condemned all discriminatory practices “as possible” by members of the crowd against the Indian players on the third day.
Rohit wicket keeps Australia firm
It would be the third highest fourth innings to win a Test, with Indian openers Gill and Rohit off to a quick start by fast bowlers Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
They scored 71 before Gill hit Hillwood behind kill keeper Tim Payne.
The hosts may have had some worries as Rohit, one of the best white bowlers in the world who has excelled since his re-introduction to the Test squad in 2019, started playing with greater fluency in raising his fifties.
However he fell into the net late, pulling a short ball straight from Cummins straight into the deep backward square foot to make sure Australia finished the day firmly.
In Pujara they face significant hurdles, he has been occupying the folds for a long time to grind the bowlers, and Rahane, who scored a majestic century in his second Test victory.
However, Rishabh Bandh will bat with an injury to his elbow, which prevented him from holding on, as Ravindra Jadeja is unlikely to bat after replacing his thumb in the first innings as India’s bottom line collapsed.
Even during Test-dominated times over the last 40 years, Australia have not had a truly influential all-rounder similar to England stars Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff and Ben Stokes.
The 21-year-old Green, who averages 51.44 bats and 23.12 balls in first-class cricket, is expected to grow into that kind of talisman.
He was used sparingly as a bowler in this match, but his first Test fifty showed signs of motivation here as he built up his side’s lead steadily before hitting four sixes until he pushed Bumra back.
The Indian bowlers started the day well and Lapuchanch, who was bowled by Hanuma Vihari in the second ball of the day, was caught by substitute keeper Virudiman Saha.
Matthew Wade knocked out Navdeep Saini for just four runs, while Smith Ravichandran Aswin was denied the second century of the match due to a fall in the LBW – the off-spinner was dismissed for the third time in five innings in the series.
But Green’s attack and Captain Payne’s unbeaten 39 left Australia with plenty of time to beat India.
‘Australia serves the match’ – reaction
Former Australian bowler Stuart Clarke at ABC Grandstand: “Australia are now serving the match. They will bowl well tomorrow – until those two late wickets they bowled well today without much luck.
“Rohit Sharma was a great wicket-taker and he was batting beautifully.
“India still have faith in the batsmen they have in Greece, Vihari and Bandh, but if they lose four wickets, we know they are not the last four big ones.”
Australia all-rounder Cameron Green: “I need it – I’ve never experienced a tense 40s before, but I was nervous about reaching my 50s there.
“The century seemed on my mind, but there were only 10 minutes until tea, and we were going to announce, so I gave myself the best chance.