Australia’s pacers got the ball to talk on a pitch that appeared to be flat at the Sydney Cricket Ground, putting their side in the driver’s seat at the end of the day three of the third Test.
After bowling India out for 244, Australia lost Will Pucovski early as Mohammed Siraj had the right-hander caught behind the wickets.
India introduced R Ashwin into the attack in the 10th over and the veteran off-spinner struck on the second delivery, trapping David Warner before the wickets.
Labuschagne, who had walked out to bat following Pucovski’s fall, was then joined by Smith and the pair added 68 runs together, denying India any success and took Australia past hundred before the close of play. While Labuschagne remained unbeaten on 47, Smith scored 29 not out.
Earlier, Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane took off from where they had left on Day 2. The two continued to grind and stay put in the middle. However, just when it looked that Rahane was looking to shift gears – after hitting Nathan Lyon for a six -, he fell after chopping a Pat Cummins short-ball onto the stumps.
While Pujara remained resilient, Australia scalped their second wicket of the morning, courtesy a brilliant fielding effort from Josh Hazlewood to run out Hanuma Vihari.
Rishabh Pant’s arrival at the crease though changed the momentum as the left-hander scored at a brisk pace and along with Pujara, took India to 180/4 at lunch.
Pant copped a blow on his left elbow early in the second session after being hit by a short ball from Cummins. The duo of Pujara and Pant completed a fifty-run stand and the right-hander completed a well-fought fifty. But the two got out in quick succession. While Hazlewood dismissed Pant for 36, Cummins got Pujara out for 50.
Although R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took India past 200, Australia scalped three wickets in the space of 10 runs as Ashwin, Navdeep Saini and Jasprit Bumrah got out.
Jadeja was then hit on his left thumb but went on to add 28 runs for the last wicket with Mohammed Siraj. But Cummins broke the partnership as Australia bowled out India for 244.
Both Pant and Jadeja were taken for scans and did not take the field during Australia’s second innings on Day 3 and Wriddhiman Saha donned the wicketekeeping gloves in Pant’s absence.
Brief Scores: Australia 338 all out and 103/2 (Marnus Labuschagne 47*, Steve Smith 29*; Mohammed Siraj 1/20) lead India 244 all out (Shubman Gill 50, Cheteshwar Pujara 50; Pat Cummins 4/29) by 197 runs.