Marnus Labuschagne fell short of his fifth test century but Australia continued its strong start to the third cricket test, reaching 249-5 at lunch Friday in another rain-interrupted session at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Labuschagne made 91, after resuming on 67 on Friday with Australia at 166-2, and shared a century stand with Steve Smith to see Australia past 200 runs for the first time in five innings this series.
Ravi Jadeja took two wickets and Jasprit Bumrah had Cameron Green lbw with the last ball before lunch in the morning session as India maintained pressure with accurate bowling to keep Australia’s scoring in check.
At the break Smith was unbeaten on 76 and will be key for Australia’s hopes of a big first innings tally.
Labuschagne didn’t appear to be batting at his fluent best but his scoring options improved as the session progressed as the 26-year-old used his feet to disrupt the line and length of India’s bowlers.
His wicket came against the momentum of the morning as he edged Jadeja (2-43) to Ajinkya Rahane at slip as he attempted to cut the spinner through point.
Labuschagne’s 91 off 196 balls, with 11 boundaries, was the highest score by an Australian in the last seven home tests against India since David Warner’s quickfire century at the SCG in 2015.
Smith continued his welcome return to form for Australia raising his half century off 116 balls, with an on-drive for four off Ravichandran Ashwin in the 72nd over. It was his 30th half century in his 76th test and first since scoring 63 against New Zealand at the SCG last year.
Matthew Wade made 13 off 16 balls before he played a poor shot and was caught in the deep by Jasprit Bumrah off Jadeja in the 77th over.
Third-gamer Green never looked comfortable against the second new ball and Bumrah (1-37) had the allrounder trapped lbw for no score from 21 balls.
On Thursday, Will Pucovski set the tone with a flourishing 62 on debut, before Labuschagne and Smith took over as Australia’s batting lineup finally clicked against India, reaching 166-2 on a rain-interrupted opening day.
After Australia won the toss and elected to bat, Labuschagne shared a partnership of 100 with Pucovski and then 60 with Smith after going to the crease in the fourth over.
The four-match Border-Gavaskar trophy series is currently tied at 1-1. The holder India is hoping to secure it with a victory in Sydney and Australia needing to win the series to reclaim it.
Australia won the opening day-night match in Adelaide by eight wickets and India responded with an eight-wicket win in Melbourne last week.
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