India ended Day 2 on top as they followed up an outstanding bowling performance with a solid batting effort. Despite losing their openers, the visitors would be happy going into Day 3.
Australia would find solace in picking up 2 wickets in the final session. They earlier failed to make the most of their promising position at the start of the day, losing 8 wickets for 172 runs. Steve Smith’s return to form was the biggest positive as Australia's No.4 scored an impressive ton.
Brief scores India 96/2 (Shubman Gill 50, Rohit Sharma 26; Pat Cummins 1 for 19, Josh Hazlewood 1 for 23) trail Australia 338 ( Steve Smith 131, Marnus Labuschagne 91; Ravindra Jadeja 4 for 62, Navdeep Saini 2 for 65) by 242 runs.
Unlike Day 1, India didn’t let rain impact their momentum in an extended morning session. They undid Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne’s cautious start by picking up three wickets on a flat Sydney wicket.
The two Aussie batsmen saw off the Indian attack in the first hour and started playing their strokes as the conditions got better. But as soon as they notched up their century stand, India made the breakthrough.
Marnus Labuschagne was the first to go, narrowly missing out on a 100 when Ravindra Jadeja got the better of him. Matthew Wade threw away his wicket a few overs later as he got out trying to attack India’s spinners, much like in the first innings of the MCG Test. Jasprit Bumrah’s late wicket of Cameron Green meant India went into Lunch with the scoreboard reading 249/5.
Steve Smith’s ton undone by Jadeja's masterclass
Despite wickets falling around him, Steve Smith kicked on and became the first Australian to score a century this series. Smith, who scored a hundred after 17 months, also became the second-fastest to reach 27 Test tons after Don Bradman.
But the Australian No.4 was the only one who made the most of a flat wicket. Tim Paine was undone by a Jasprit Bumrah inswinger, while Jadeja sent both Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon packing.
Steve Smith’s ton was the highlight of the afternoon session. But Ravindra Jadeja's effort to dismiss the Aussie was exceptional. The all-rounder had just one stump to aim for a run-out. And he executed his throw perfectly to catch Steve Smith short of his crease to end Australia’s innings.
India look solid despite losing Rohit and Gill
Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill negotiated a tricky opening period with ease as they put away the loose deliveries to go into Tea at 26/0.
And the visitors drove home their dominance in the final session. Rohit and Gill brought up their 50 partnership under 20 overs. The duo also became the first set of openers to last more than 20 overs in an overseas Test since Gambhir and Sehwag at Centurion in 2010.
India were in for a scare after Rohit was adjudged bat-pad at short leg. But Rohit was quick to review, and DRS confirmed there was no contact.
Sharma didn’t last long though, and succumbed after a feisty battle with birthday boy Josh Hazlewood as the Australian completed a sharp catch off his own bowling.
Shubman Gill reached his maiden Test fifty soon after, but the youngster went back to the pavilion after edging a good delivery from Pat Cummins.
With both openers sent back, Australia’s bowlers grew into confidence. They kept Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane on their toes, as they consistently bowled on the good length outside off.
Ajinkya Rahane survived in controversial circumstances in the 40th over. The India skipper offered no shot to a Lyon delivery, padding the ball away as Australia went up in appeal. After the hosts reviewed the call, DRS showed the ball clipping the stumps, with Rahane saved by the contentious “Umpire’s call”.
In the final few overs of the day, Indian batsmen stuck around without losing a wicket. The visitors will be the happier of the two sides on Day 2 and will look to build an advantage on Day 3. Whether they can take a lead and by how much, only time will tell.
The Australia’s bowlers, however, have their work cut out. They will look to emulate India and try to dismiss the visitors before they get a chance to put up a big total.
Day 3 is often called the turning day of Test matches at the SCG. Let's see whose favor the coin (or the ball) turns in.Published 08 Jan 2021, 13:26 IST