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Cummins four gives Aussies advantage



Pat Cummins showed his class with four wickets on a benign surface to give Australia a 94 run first innings lead against India on day three at the SCG.


That lead had been extended to 197 by the close with Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith batting the home side in to a strong position.


Cummins was the star of the day for Australia, claiming 4-29 from 21.4 overs to help knock over India for 244, three run outs in a supreme fielding performance capping off an outstanding day for Tim Paine's side.


India resumed at 2-96 still trailing by 242 runs, Steve Smith's 131 leading Australia to 338 on day two.


It was Cummins who struck first blood for the home side, Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane chopping on to his stumps having made 22.


Cheteshwar Pujara was occupying the crease for India as runs were hard to come by, fast bowler Josh Hazlewood producing a stunning piece of fielding to run out Hanuma Vihari for four.


Vihari hit the ball to Hazlewood's right at mid-off, who picked up and threw in one motion to score a direct hit and find the Indian right hander well short of his ground, setting the tone for what was to come for Australia in the field.


Rishabh Pant got the scoreboard moving with Pujara as the pair added 53 for the fifth wicket, the second new ball taken by the home side in a pivotal period of the Test match and indeed the series.


Pant was struck a painful blow on the elbow but continued on, eventually edging the relentless Hazlewood to David Warner at first slip before Cummins claimed the prized scalp of Pujara for 50, getting a ball to climb sharply and graze the glove of India's number through to Paine behind the stumps.


The innings lost it's way from there as Ravichandran Ashwin (10) was run out in a sloppy piece of running, debutant Navdeep Saini (3) was outclassed by a short ball barrage from Mitchell Starc as the end of the Indian batting effort appeared nigh.


Batting with the tail Ravindra Jadeja looked to farm the strike, but Jasprit Bumrah was run out by a direct from Marnus Labuschagne at the non-strikers end, a third run out for Australia in the innings.


Jadeja would make a handy 28 not out to take the Aussie lead under 100 but the innings was over when Cummins returned to have Mohammed Siraj (6) caught behind, India only able to post 244 on a good batting pitch.


Cummins was sensational in claiming four wickets, justifying his number one ICC Test bowling ranking in a fine showing on his home ground.


Hazlewood claimed two scalps with Starc one, Australia starting their second innings with a 94 run advantage.


Openers Will Pucovski (10) and David Warner (13) departed cheaply to Siraj and Ashwin respectively to leave the home side in some early trouble, before star batsmen Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith batted Australia through to stumps without further loss, reaching 2-103 with Labuschagne on 47 and Smith 29.


India's tough day was compounded with both Pant and Jadeja unable to take to the field on the third afternoon, sent for scans on elbow and thumb injuries respectively.


Australia will resume on the fourth day trying to bat India out of the match, as they endeavour to take a 2-1 lead in the series with still one Test to play.


IMAGE: Cricket Australia.