India on the brink of 2-1 lead in series

MELBOURNE • India moved within two wickets of an emphatic victory in the third cricket Test, after reducing Australia to 258 for eight at the close of Day 4 yesterday as the home side's batsmen suffered a familiar spate of failures.

Having set a daunting victory target of 399 shortly before lunch, Virat Kohli's team attacked with precision and intensity to leave the hosts on life support at the end of a muggy and overcast day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

The lion-hearted Pat Cummins thwarted India's hopes of closing out the win with a day to spare, anchoring some stubborn tail-end resistance after the top order crumbled. The seamer was 61 not out, a personal best, with Nathan Lyon on six, and Australia still 141 runs short of victory.

Some rain is forecast on Day 5, but after dominating with bat and ball, the tourists will almost certainly head to the Sydney finale with a 2-1 series lead and a genuine belief they can become the first Indian team to win a series Down Under.

On a grim day for Australian cricket, Cummins was the only shining light, impressing with the bat after registering career-best figures of 6-27 before Kohli declared India's second innings at 106-8 in the morning.

"We're going to go out tomorrow and try and win the first ball and the first over and show a lot of fight and a lot of pride going out there to bat for Australia," said Lyon when asked if Australia could still save the game.

"That's all we can do. It's a massive honour to play Test match cricket for Australia and we're not going to give up lightly."

The crowd, however, were less honourable when a number of spectators were ejected from the MCG on Day 3 after racist chanting was aimed at the touring side.

Multiple warnings were issued to fans in Bay 13 of the Great Southern Stand after chants of "Show us your visa" were directed at the India players.

Video footage was passed to Cricket Australia (CA), which notified the spectators that, should it continue, everyone in that section of the stand would be evicted from the ground. When the warning was disregarded, security staff removed some of the spectators.

CA confirmed it would be monitoring the remaining action today for signs of racial abuse.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

AUSTRALIA V INDIA

3rd Test, day 5: Singtel TV Ch123 & StarHub Ch236, 7.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 30, 2018, with the headline 'India on the brink of 2-1 lead in series'. Print Edition | Subscribe