India vs Australia: Kuldeep, Jadeja put India on top

India inches closer to maiden India vs Australia Test series win before bad weather stops play at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Kuldeep Yadav celebrates after dismissing Tim Paine in Sydney on Saturday.   -  Getty Images

The ball sliced through the air, spun, dipped and turned. On view was skill, variety and deception.

Kuldeep Yadav, imparting serious revolutions on the ball, brought with him a dash of sub-continental magic to the Sydney Cricket Ground here on Saturday.

The Chinaman was on view, so was the wrong ‘un. The surface continued to hold firm on day three but then a left-arm wrist spinner is not really dependent on the pitch.

Bowling in tandem with left-arm orthodox spinner Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep hunted for wickets. There was pressure on the Aussie batsmen from both ends and Jadeja had successes too.

READ: AS IT HAPPENED

Replying to India’s mammoth 622 for seven, Australia was struggling at 236 for six when rain ended play early on day three of the fourth Test.

The Indian celebrations have already begun. From here, India will surely and deservedly triumph in its first Test series in Australia. Virat Kohli and his men stand on the brink of making history.

Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav share a light moment with Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami in Sydney on Saturday.   -  Getty Images

 

The only question that remains to be answered is the scoreline. Will it be 2-1 or 3-1 for India? With more showers forecast over the next two days, the Indians may have to race against time and overcome weather to pull off a victory at the SCG.   

The Indians were hungry on the field. They swooped on the ball, held catches and displayed intent. And the Aussies collapsed from 128 for one.

This despite the Australian openers Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja putting on 72 for the first wicket. 

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With a strokeful 79 - the highest individual score by an Australian in the series - the left-handed Harris impressed. He whipped the pacemen, cut the spinners if provided width and stepped down to drive through off-side.

But then, Harris played on, dragging a Jadeja delivery from outside off. This Aussie line-up needs a crash course from Cheteshwar Pujara on the art of building an innings.

Kuldeep made survival hard for them. For someone who is only 24, Kuldeep used the crease capably, bowling round and over the wicket to the left and right handers.

The Aussies struggled to pick Kuldeep’s wrong ‘un, the delivery turning away from the right-hander. They came forward more in hope than conviction.

And on occasions they sat back within the crease, the Aussie batsmen found themselves in trouble. It’s hard to play Kuldeep off the pitch - you got to read the hand and pick the length.

He ended the 72-run opening association between Khawaja and Harris. The left-handed Khawaja attempted to step out and heave Kuldeep, but then this was a wrong ‘un, not a Chinaman as the previous deliveries were. He was held at mid-wicket.  

It was flight and drop that foxed the left-handed Travis Head after he has sashayed down the track.

Kuldeep set up and then dismissed Tim Paine. He made the Aussie captain play a series of deliveries that were essentially his stock ball - drifting and spinning into the batsman. Paine was defensive off the front foot.

Then, Kuldeep, wickedly, got one to dip. Paine came forward and ended up playing over the ball.

The steady Jadeja had earlier dismissed the left-handed Shaun Marsh, getting a delivery to straighten around off.

Marcus Labuschagne’s batted fluently. He cover and square drove off the front foot, stroked down the ground and timed his flicks.

But then, he fell into the trap the Indians had set for him. Labuschagne was unable to his whip down off Mohammed Shami. Ajinkya Rahane held a spectacular catch at short squarish mid-wicket.

Making technical adjustments against pace - he went forward when the length demanded than stay deep within the crease - Peter Handscomb showed some flair and resolve.

Pat Cummins applied himself - he has the makings of an all-rounder - before the rain arrived.

Play with start at 4.30 am on Sunday to make up for lost time.