MELBOURNE, Dec 28 (Reuters) - India’s bowlers dominated a clinical session as Australia stumbled to 89 for four at lunch on day three of the third test on Friday, still 354 runs behind the tourists’ declared first innings total of 443 for seven.
Shaun Marsh was dismissed lbw for 19 by Jasprit Bumrah with the last ball before the interval, leaving Travis Head 18 not out and tasked with digging Australia out of a massive hole on a hot and muggy day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Bumrah earlier claimed the wicket of Marcus Harris for 22, with fellow seamer Ishant Sharma capturing Aaron Finch for eight and recalled spinner Ravindra Jadeja dismissing Usman Khawaja (21).
Australia’s openers Harris and Finch had resumed on eight without loss, with the temperature already 34 degrees Celsius (93F) on a steamy morning and ominous rough patches having appeared on the maligned MCG wicket.
Ishant’s first delivery was a no-ball but he was soon asking nagging questions of Finch, the man he bowled for a duck in the series-opener in Adelaide.
Vulnerable to the straighter delivery, Finch stumbled into a trap set by Kohli, flicking Ishant off his pads to silly mid-on where Agarwal clutched a brilliant low catch.
Shortly after, Australia were 36 for two, with Harris trudging back to the dressing room after also falling to careful planning.
Struck in the helmet for a second time by a brutal delivery from Bumrah late on day two, Harris was out for 22 with a hook shot that smacked of desperation, the top edge flying straight to Ishant at long leg.
Australia’s parade of troubled lefthand batsmen continued, with the nervous Shaun Marsh joining Usman Khawaja in the middle.
The pair were soon under siege by the left-arm spin of Jadeja and a foot-mark that gave the bowler prodigious turn.
Khawaja reverse-swept Jadeja for four but was out the next delivery as the ball reared out of the rough to catch an edge that was well caught by Agarwal at short leg.
Head and Marsh nudged Australia forward without looking especially comfortable, but their budding partnership was broken when the inspired Bumrah deceived Marsh with a slower ball.
The devastating session left India in the box seat to dismiss Australia cheaply and look to claim a 2-1 lead in the four-test series heading to the finale in Sydney.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury