Rishabh Pant shrugged off an elbow injury that kept him off the field for an entire day, moved up the batting order and put the pressure back on Australia in the third test by scoring an unbeaten 73 to guide India to 206-3 at lunch on the last day at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Pant went to the crease in the second over Monday and settled in quickly, going on the attack and belting three sixes and eight boundaries to dominate an unbroken partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara that netted 104 runs. Pujara, who resumed on 9, stonewalled for the entire morning session and was unbeaten on 41 from 147 balls.
India still needed 201 to win, or to survive two more sessions to salvage a draw going into the fourth and last match of a series that is tied 1-1.
Australia needs seven more wickets to take a 2-1 lead heading to Brisbane next week for the series finale at the Gabba, where it hasn't lost a test match since 1988.
India scored 108 runs for the loss of one wicket in 36 overs in Monday's morning session after resuming at 98-2, still needing 309 to win. Josh Hazelwood had Shubman Gill (31) caught behind and Pat Cummins had Rohit Sharma (52) caught in the outfield before stumps on Sunday.
Australia's only breakthrough before lunch on day five was in the second over when stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane (4) was caught at short leg by Matt Wade off Nathan Lyon's bowling to make it 102-3.
With India teetering, Pant went to work keeping the tourists in the contest.
Pant's innings was more impressive considering he was sidelined all of Sunday and had to be replaced in the field by specialist wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, who took four catches in Australia's second innings before the hosts declared at 312-6 with a 406-run lead.
Play on Sunday was largely overshadowed by an eight-minute stoppage shortly before the end of Australia’s second innings after India fast bowler Mohammed Siraj complained to umpires Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson about abuse from the crowd while he was fielding near the boundary.
Siraj had made a formal complaint the previous evening, after stumps on day three, about allegedly racist abuse from a section of the crowd and was advised to notify umpires immediately if it happened again.
Play resumed after after police escorted six men from their seats. The men were interviewed by police and security officials and ejected from the stadium.
Police and Cricket Australia are continuing investigations.
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