India strike twice after quiet first hour

Lunch Australia 451 and 83 for 4 (Marsh 15*, Jadeja 3-22) trail India 603 for 9 dec (Pujara 202, Saha 117, Vijay 82, Rahul 67, Cummins 4-106) by 69 runs
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Ishant Sharma set up Matt Renshaw’s dismissal © Associated Press

Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja defeated Matt Renshaw and Steven Smith within the space of four balls to keep India on course for victory over Australia at lunch on the final day of the third Test in Ranchi.

Renshaw and Smith played with good sense and without too many alarms for nearly 90 minutes on resumption, before Ishant followed a pair of bouncers with a well-pitched inswinger to pin Renshaw in front of the stumps. Next over, Smith failed to get his pad in line with a Jadeja delivery twirled down from over the wicket and had his off stump knocked over.

That one-two punch left Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb in grim occupation at the interval, with the Australians still 69 runs short of making India bat again on a surface now offering some lavish turn to the spinners and the occasional instance of variable bounce for the pacemen.

Smith and Renshaw had begun simply trying to bat for as long as possible, taking occasional scoring opportunities but stripping their games of risk. India’s captain Virat Kohli began with Jadeja at one end and Umesh Yadav at the other, not calling on the offbreaks of the world’s No. 1 ranked bowler R Ashwin.

The plan to Smith appeared to be bowling wide of the stumps while trying to test his patience. He was comfortable in leaving plenty of balls alone while scoring from the occasional ball that strayed onto the stumps. Renshaw had a few awkward moments against Jadeja but overall held his shape well in dealing with the left-armer’s variation between sharp turn and skidding straight balls.

Kohli replaced Umesh with Ishant who found a hint of movement from around the wicket. Renshaw’s decision to pull away from the first ball of the 29th over of the innings seemed to raise Ishant’s ire, and he hurled down a pair of bouncers in the same over to push the opener back, before thudding into his front shin for the lbw verdict.

Smith had been safe in padding away anything Jadeja served up from over the wicket, but next over he failed to get his front leg far enough down the pitch or in line and heard the sickening noise of the off stump tumbling over. That error put Cheteshwar Pujara’s enormous concentration in perspective, and left Australia with a mountain to climb to escape Ranchi with a draw.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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