The Delhi Test took a wild turn on the third morning as Australia crumbled in the face of their aggressive ways, to fall from an overnight total of 61/1 to 113 all out. Ravindra Jadeja finished with career-best figures of 7 for 42 while Ravichandran Ashwin picked the other three as India took just 19.1 overs to wrap up Australia’s innings. India surmounted the lowly target of 115 in the second session to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the Border-Gavaskar Test series.
Having squandered the opportunity to take a big first-innings lead on Day 2, Australia had started their second innings with attacking intent as they got 61 for 1 in 12 overs. Travis Head, who led the way in that endeavour, appeared to be in the mood to carry on the same vein on Day 3 as he drove Ashwin through covers. But Ashwin started Australia’s wickets procession in the same over when he tossed one up and lured the left-handed Head to nick one behind.
Australia still seemed intent on taking the attack to India, and the majority of the batters indulged in premeditation with the sweep and reverse sweep and paid a hefty price. Steve Smith, who’d already targetted the straight boundary against Jadeja, attempted a sweep shot against Ashwin and perished leg before. Even a review couldn’t save him as the decision was upheld on the basis of the impact being umpire’s call.
Jadeja started to make incisions with the big wicket of Marnus Labuschagne, who looked assured till he faced the wicket delivery that sneaked below his vertical bat and hit the stumps. Australia were truly in trouble of losing the Test when they went from 95 for 4 to 95 for 7 in the space of 10 deliveries, with Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Pat Cummins falling – two of them to attempted sweeps.
Australia just couldn’t arrest the downward spiralling as Alex Carey, also going down sweeping, became Jadeja’s fifth wicket of the innings. Nathan Lyon broke the chain of this bizarre shot selection but ended up inside-edging a Jadeja delivery to perish. Australia’s No.11 batter Matthew Kuhnemann tried the reverse sweep and was bowled by Jadeja – making him just the second spinner since Anil Kumble against South Africa in 1992 to have five bowled dismissals in an innings. With that, Australia managed 52 for 9 in 19.1 overs in the morning session to fold for 113 and set India a target of 115.
Just before Lunch, India lost KL Rahul to an unlucky dismissal. Rahul flicked a ball from Nathan Lyon but it ricocheted off the short leg fielder and went straight to the keeper. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer fell after Lunch, but Australia couldn’t make further inroads. Rohit went following a mix-up in calling for a second run with Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli, who looked assured for the 31 balls he faced, was stumped for the first time in his Test career off Todd Murphy. Shreyas fell trying to go over midwicket, reducing India to 88 for 4. But that didn’t trigger the kind of collapse that Australia suffered earlier in the day as Pujara and KS Bharat polished off the remaining 27 runs to take India 2-0 up in the series.
Brief Scores: Australia 263 (Usman Khawaja 81, Peter Handscomb 72; Mohammed Shami 4-60, Ravichandran Ashwin 3-57, Ravindra Jadeja 3-68) & 113 (Travis Head 43; Ravindra Jadeja 7-42, Ravichandran Ashwin 3-59) lost to India 262 (Axar Patel 74, Virat Kohli 44; Nathan Lyon 5-67) & 118/4 (Cheteshwar Pujara 31*; Nathan Lyon 2-49) by 6 wickets