MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rampaging paceman Jasprit Bumrah pummelled Australia with a six-wicket haul in the performance of his young career to put India in a commanding position on day three of the third test on Friday.
Bowling fiery spells full of precision and guile, the 25-year-old with his signature slingshot action helped rout Australia for 151 soon after tea in their reply to India’s declared first innings total of 443 for seven.
However, Virat Kohli’s batsmen struggled as much as their Australian counterparts with seamer Pat Cummins taking four wickets in a lion-hearted spell as India staggered to stumps at 54-5 on another stifling day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Despite the collapse, the tourists hold a 346-run lead with two days to play, and are in prime position to take a 2-1 series lead into the fourth and final test in Sydney.
Debutant opener Mayank Agarwal was 28 not out at stumps with pugnacious wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant on six.
“We lost a few more wickets than we wanted to but we’ll assess tomorrow morning and we’ll try to add as much as we can and then hopefully get them out,” Bumrah told reporters.
Made to toil for two days in the field — and much of it in scorching heat — Australia’s over-worked bowlers were given only 66 overs of respite before they were pressed back into service following a dismal display by their batting team mates.
Wicketkeeper-captain Tim Paine and opener Marcus Harris shared their side’s highest score of 22 on a day when 15 wickets tumbled, more than double the seven that fell through the opening two days.
Bumrah’s haul of 6-33 was the best ever recorded by an Indian bowler at the MCG, and he removed all four Australian batsmen who made starts, while cleaning up the last three wickets for six runs after tea.
Having softened up Harris late on day two by rapping his helmet with a nasty delivery, Bumrah had the opener dismissed with a desperate hook that was swallowed by Ishant Sharma at short leg.
He left Australia in huge trouble at 89-4 at lunch, trapping Shaun Marsh for 19 with the last ball of the session, a slower full toss that hammered into the lefthander’s pads.
Bowling Travis Head for 20 after the interval, Bumrah returned later to rattle through the tail.
Ravindra Jadeja made a successful return in his first appearance in the series, claiming 2-45 including the wickets of Usman Khawaja for 21 and recalled all-rounder Mitchell Marsh for nine.
Having tormented the home batsmen with a slew of deliveries that bounced and spun viciously out of a foot-mark, the wily left-arm spinner will look forward to facing Australia’s troubled parade of left-handers again.
Tim Paine’s side were dismissed 93 runs short of making India bat again, but captain Kohli declined to enforce the follow-on and sent Australia back into the field.
Cummins, though, gave home fans in the sparse crowd some late cheer, taking 4-10 in an extraordinary six-over spell that included dismissing Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara for ducks in near-identical fashion, both chipping to Harris at leg gully.
Even with some rain forecast over the final two days, Australia’s hopes of staving off a comprehensive defeat appear bleak.
Cummins, however, was refusing to rule out a fairytale.
“You never know if we knock them over early,” he said.
“The wicket’s still pretty good. We’ve seen a lot of matches here go right to the end of fifth days. You never know.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by John O'Brien