Australia 182-4 at lunch, day 4 vs India; lead by 276 runs
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — Half centuries to Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith lifted Australia to 182-4 at lunch on day four, giving the hosts a lead of 276 runs in the third cricket test against India.
Labuschagne made 73, his second half century of the match, and Smith continued his welcome return to form with a patient and unbeaten 58 on Sunday to place Australia in an increasingly dominant position against a short-handed India lineup.
Allrounder Cameron Green was 20 not out at lunch, sharing a 34-run partnership with Smith. Navdeep Saini snared two wickets for India and returned 2-47.
After resuming at 103-2 on Sunday, Labuschagne and Smith made a watchful start as India’s attack bowled a tight line to limit Australia’s scoring opportunities.
Labuschagne should have been out on the second ball for 47 but Hanuma Vihari dropped a regulation chance at square leg off Jasprit Bumrah's bowling.
The 26-year-old reached his 50, off 82 balls with six boundaries, a few overs later with a single off Bumrah. It was Labuschagne's 10th half-century in just his 17th test and came as part of a second successive century partnership with Smith.
Labuschagne’s fortune eventually ran out when Saini had the batsman caught behind off a leg glance to have Australia at 138-3, with a lead of 232 runs.
Matt Wade made four runs from 11 balls before he edged behind to substitute wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha off Saini, who is making his test debut.
Saha is playing for Rishabh Pant, who has not taken the field after sustaining an elbow injury from a rising ball from paceman Pat Cummins while batting on day three.
Spinning allrounder Ravi Jadeja is another injury concern after he was struck on the thumb by a Mitchell Starc delivery on Saturday. While Jadeja managed to bat on and make 28 not out, after taking 4 wickets in the first innings, he did not return to the field at the start of the fourth day.
Smith’s 30th test 50 was one of his most patient, coming off 134 balls with five boundaries.
On Saturday, pace bowlers Cummins and Josh Hazlewood starred with the ball to help Australia take the upper hand by bowling India out for 244, giving the hosts a 94-run first-innings lead.
Three India batsmen were also run out, including Vihari to a direct hit from Hazlewood that helped swing the momentum of the match.
The four-match Border-Gavaskar trophy series is level at 1-1. The holder India is hoping to secure it with a victory in Sydney and Australia needing to win the series to reclaim it.
Australia won the opening day-night match in Adelaide by eight wickets and India responded with an eight-wicket win in Melbourne last week.
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