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Green shines as Australia close in




Cameron Green reached his first Test half century of his fledgling international career, top scoring with 84 in Australia's second innings as the home side closes in on victory in the third Test against India at the SCG.


Half centuries from Steve Smith (81) and Marnus Labuschagne (73) helped Australia declare with a lead of 406 at Tea on the fourth day, Australia able to claim openers Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma before stumps with India 2-98, still needing a further 309 runs to win.


Australia resumed on day four at 2-103, leading by 197 runs thanks to a superb bowling and fielding effort on day three with Smith and Labuschagne at the crease.


The latter should have fallen to the third ball of the day, dropped by Hanuma Vihari at backward square leg from the bowling of Jasprit Bumrah in what was a straightforward chance.


Labuschagne brought up his fifty shortly thereafter, the partnership reaching 103 with both players looking comfortable.


But India's persistence eventually paid off when Labuschagne gloved a catch down the legside to substitute wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha from the bowling of Navdeep Saini having made 73, his second half century of the match.


Saha had three catches for the innings when Matthew Wade recorded his second failure of the game, out for just four as Saini claimed his second wicket.


Saha had the gloves because of Rishabh Pant's arm injury sustained while batting on day three, Ravindra Jadeja also out of action due to a dislocated finger which will rule him out of the series.


Green and Smith got Australia through to lunch without further loss as the lead approached 300, Smith changing gears after the break as he hooked Mohammed Siraj for six and hit four fours in quick time.


Ravichandran Ashwin won an LBW decision on review on Smith on 81, depriving Smith of the opportunity to make twin centuries in the match.


Green took centre stage from there, reaching a maiden Test half century from 116 balls with seven fours with captain Tim Paine at the other end.


The young all-rounder then changed gears with a declaration looming, launching Siraj for three towering sixes over long on and pulling Bumrah off the front foot over deep midwicket for another maximum.


Unfortunately Green's power hitting was completely overshadowed by an incident involving Siraj and SCG spectators, play stopped for ten minutes with six young male fans questioned by police over alleged racial comments made to the young fast bowler.


Green would fall for 84 chasing a thrilling century, the declaration arriving at the Tea break with Paine unbeaten on 39, India needing 407 for victory or batting out 130 overs for a draw.


Openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman GIll made a good start for a second time in the Test match, adding 71 for the first wicket.


Sharma survived an LBW referral from Josh Hazlewood, Paul Reiffel's initial call of out overturned on review with the ball going over the stumps.


Australia spurned a review two balls later when they sent a caught behind decision upstairs, the ball only striing the pad of Gill on it's way to wicketkeeper Paine.


It was eventually Hazlewood who made the breakthrough, the first ball of a new spell drawing an outside edge that landed in Paine's gloves, despite an optimistic review from the young opener.


Sharma reached 50 but fell to a Pat Cummins bouncer within shadows of stumps, well caught by Mitchell Starc at fine leg having made 52.


Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane survived to stumps, Pujara also successfully reviewing an LBW shout given by umpire Paul Wilson before he'd scored off the bowling of Hazlewood.


A tough task awaits India on the final day, having to survive 90 overs or find a way to score 309 runs to take the lead in the series with one Test still to play, Pant and Jadeja both in doubt to bat due to injury as Australia chase eight more wickets for a 2-1 series advantage.


IMAGE: The Australian.