Sport Another Australian mini-collapse leaves India on verge of second Test win

Another Australian mini-collapse leaves India on verge of second Test win

Indian players walk off the MCG at stumps on the third day, with victory in sight. Photo: AAP
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India is charging towards a memorable series-levelling victory at the MCG with the tourists ripping through a brittle Australian top order in the second Test.

Australia ended day three of the Boxing Day Test slumped at 6-133, leading by just two runs with four wickets in hand.

Promising all-rounder Cameron Green (17 not out) and Pat Cummins (15 not out) will be responsible for Australia’s difficult rescue mission when play resumes on Tuesday.

Little went right for Australia in a disastrous final session, losing 4-68, and captain Tim Paine possibly on the wrong end of a controversial DRS decision.

India reviewed the field umpire’s not-out call after Paine tried cutting spinner Ravindra Jadeja.

Replays showed nothing on hot spot, but a slight spike on snicko when the ball moved past Paine’s bat was enough for third umpire Paul Wilson to give the No.7 out.

Earlier, India lost 5-49 in the first session, claiming a 131-run first-innings lead, which could have been more if not for the calamitous run out of captain Ajinkya Rahane for a courageous 112.

While India was frustrated to not post more than 326, a lower-order collapse hasn’t cost the tourists.

All five of India’s bowlers took wickets, highlighted by quick Jasprit Bumrah claiming the prized scalp of Steve Smith to continue the most concerning form slump of the Australian star’s career.

The world’s No.1-ranked Test batsman fell for eight, with the ball clipping the top of Smith’s leg stump in a bizarre dismissal.

The 31-year-old is enduring the worst series of his career with an average of 3.3 two games into the four-Test contest.

Smith starred with two centuries in the ODI series in November, but he carried concerns over a back injury into the first Test and has looked a shadow of his self since.

But the batting concerns don’t end with Smith, as Australia hasn’t posted a score above 195 in four innings this series.

Joe Burns’ second failure of the match has placed the opener’s international career in severe jeopardy.

The Queenslander followed up his first-innings duck with a scratchy four, being caught behind off Indian quick Umesh Yadav.

Inexplicably, Burns opted to challenge the umpire’s call, burning one of Australia’s reviews after replays showed a clear hot spot on his bat.

The 31-year-old, who made an unbeaten 51 during Australia’s successful run chase in Adelaide, has now managed just 125 first-class runs at an average of 10.4 this summer.

Joe Burns trudges off after another disappointing innings on Monday. Photo: AAP

Burns was picked to partner makeshift opener Matthew Wade at the start of the Test series when David Warner (groin) and uncapped Will Pucovski (concussion) were ruled out through injury.

But he faces an extremely difficult task to hold his spot for the third Test, with first-choice opener Warner likely to be cleared to return.

Burns was also nearly run out twice in his 10-ball innings, with Australia great Ricky Ponting noting the right-hander had been in “sheer panic mode”.

No.5 Travis Head (17) was caught at second slip after slashing at a wide delivery, with the South Australian again failing to capitalise on a promising start.

Makeshift opener Matthew Wade was the only Australian batsmen to show grit, facing 137 balls – the sixth most deliveries he has faced in Test cricket – to top score with 40.

Making India’s performance more remarkable is how quickly it has bounced back after its record-low score of 36 at the Adelaide Oval.

India made four changes, including Virat Kohli’s forced omission, but has been led in style by Rahane.

India’s only concern is a leg injury to Yadav, who hobbled off the field halfway through his fourth over.