Australia, fired by David Warner’s 180 and another fine display from their pace attack, were closing on victory after reducing India to 88-4 in their second innings after two days of the third Test yesterday.
India, who already trail 2-0 in the four-match series and are heading for a seventh consecutive overseas Test defeat, were still 120 runs shy of forcing the hosts to bat again at the close of play.
Their bowlers, spearheaded by Umesh Yadav’s 5-93, had dragged the tourists back into the match after the first day demolition by taking the last six Australia wickets for 79 runs and leaving the hosts 369 all out with a first-innings’ lead of 208.
The bounce of the WACA wicket once again proved too much for their batsmen and Australia’s pace quartet removed Gautam Gambhir (14), Virender Sehwag (10), Sachin Tendulkar (8) and V.V.S. Laxman (0) in the final session.
India will resume today with Rahul Dravid, who had made 32 not out, and Virat Kohli, unbeaten on 21, at the crease with three days of the contest stretching out ahead of them.
Mitchell Starc, playing just his third Test, fired down a bouncer to snare Gambhir caught behind and break India’s opening partnership, before returning to end Tendulkar’s 23rd attempt to secure a century of international centuries.
Tendulkar was not impressed with a tight leg before wicket call, but, with India refusing to allow the use of the decision review system for the series, he was forced to accept the umpire’s ruling.
“I appealed for it, so I thought it was out,” paceman Starc told reporters. “The umpire gave it, so he’s not coming back. It was a great feeling to get the Little Master out, but more importantly, they are four wickets down and hopefully we can finish the job tomorrow.”
Australia would have been hoping for a bigger lead after bowling India out for 161 on Friday and resuming on 149 without loss on another hot day at the WACA.
However, Yadav struck with three wickets in the hour before lunch, Ishant Sharma accounted for Warner, Zaheer Khan pitched in with two wickets and debutant R. Vinay Kumar got his maiden Test victim.
It could have been even better for the tourists had Kohli not dropped a simple catch when Warner, who hit the quickest ever century by an opening batsman in 69 balls on Friday, was on 126.
As it was, Warner, showing only flashes of the swashbuckling brilliance he displayed to reach his century, was allowed to claim his first Test 150, before holing out 20 runs shy of a double-century.
The 25-year-old left-hander, who had resumed on 104, hit a spectacular six through extra-cover, his fifth of the innings, and two balls later grabbed his 20th four with the crispest of cuts.
Another two balls on though and a Sharma delivery was launched into the sky toward long-on and Yadav got himself under it to take the catch, bringing an end to the innings after 261 minutes and just 159 balls.
Paceman Yadav had already separated the two Australia openers when he bowled Ed Cowan for 74 with 214 runs on the board.
Shaun Marsh managed just 11 runs to continue his miserable form and Ricky Ponting had made 7 when Yadav removed his middle stump for a third wicket before lunch.
Warner departed soon after the break and captain Michael Clarke — who hit an unbeaten 329 in the last Test — and Brad Haddin soon followed, caught behind off the bowling of Zaheer for 18 and a duck respectively.