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Day 3 round-up: Australia squandered a strong start as the top order suffered yet another batting collapse in Sydney on Saturday, leaving themselves with an improbable task of overhauling India's huge first innings total.
The hosts were 236/6 on Day 3 of the final Test when play was stopped due to light drizzles and poor light. The drizzle soon turned into a downpour, meaning play was abandoned.
Peter Handscomb (28*) and Pat Cummins (25*) will now have to put on a big partnership if the hosts are to even have any hopes of avoiding the follow-on.
The two have managed to put together a 38-run partnership after Kuldeep Yadav (3/71) dismissed Tim Paine early in the final session but will know that there remains plenty of work to be done on Day 4. Yet it could have been a different story had any of the top-order batsman – all of whom got starts – managed to stick around long enough to make a big score.
Opener Marcus Harris hit a career-best 79, he didn’t get much support from senior batsmen Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh, who failed to deliver when needed most.
Both were guilty of throwing away their wicket, with Marsh being caught by Ajinkya Rahane off Ravindra Jadeja (2/62) at first slip and Khawaja holing out to Cheteshwar Pujara while trying to attack Kuldeep.
Khawaja had been dropped by Pant behind the stumps but he did not do enough to make the young wicketkeeper pay for his mistake. His opening partner Harris, who has looked good on occasions in his still-young Test career, settled in relatively quickly and played some good shots around the ground.
He survived a close call on 24 when a drive to a diving KL Rahul fell just short. Harris then reached his second Test 50 with a single before smacking three fours in one Kuldeep over.
Harris was on 77 at lunch but could only add two more runs to his score before chopping a delivery from Jadeja onto his stumps, thus ensuring the wait for an Australian batsman to score a century in this series continues.
It is perhaps telling that Harris' score 79 is the highest any one of the home batsman has scored whereas the visitors have scored five centuries so far in the series.
The Marnus Labuschagne gamble didn’t quite work out with the ball but he made a promising start with the bat when he came in to bat at number three, scoring 38.
However, he was sent packing by an absolute blinder of a catch from Rahane at mid-wicket off Mohammad Shami's bowling.
Things didn’t improve much thereafter as Marsh also fell cheaply before Travis Head was caught and bowled by Kuldeep just before tea for 20, leaving them at 198/5 at tea.
Matters were only made worse when they lost Paine in the first over of the final session as he failed to read a peach of a delivery from Kuldeep and was clean bowled. But the pair of Cummins and Handscomb managed to navigate the rest of the day before bad light and then showers brought the day to a premature end.
India lead the series 2-1 after victories in Adelaide and Melbourne and are fast closing in on a historic first-ever series win Down Under.