Australia v India talking points: Cummins fires but visitors hold commanding Test lead

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Pat Cummins blew away India's top-order on day three.

15 wickets fell in total on a topsy-turvy third day in the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India but it was the visitors who came out with the bigger share of the spoils.

The hosts were bundled out for just 151 in their first innings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Friday after India had declared at 443-7. By the time stumps were drawn on day three, India had been reduced to 54-5 in their second innings with their overall lead standing at 346 runs.

At the end of remarkable day of Test cricket at the iconic venue, we take a look at the key talking points.

AUSTRALIA FOLD UNDER BUMRAH’S SIX-FOR

The MCG surface had been almost benign for the first two days with just seven wickets falling in total but that all changed on the third day as the demons in the pitch came to life.

Once Australia opener Aaron Finch had thrown his wicket away to Ishant Sharma, it was Jasprit Bumrah who took charge for India with the best display of his Test career. The 25-year-old opened his account by getting Marcus Harris to hole out in the deep to Ishant.

The hosts had briefly arrested the slide through a couple of small partnerships before Bumrah returned to dismiss Shaun Marsh with a stunning slower delivery.  Mixing it up nicely with booming yorkers and lethal short-balls, Bumrah sent Travis Head and skipper Tim Paine packing shortly after to completely break the back of Australia’s batting.

There was no stopping Bumrah on the day with the pacer cleaning up the tail to bring up his third five-wicket haul in Test cricket. The returns of 6-33 are Bumrah’s career-best figures in a still fledgling career which is just nine Tests old.

A day to remember for Bumrah at the MCG.

A day to remember for Bumrah at the MCG.

INDIA COLLAPSE AS CUMMINS PUTS ON A SHOW

With Bumrah’s heroics handing the tourists a staggering 292-run lead, skipper Virat Kohli had the option of enforcing the follow-on but chose not to do so.

However, what unfolded in the final session of the day might have Kohli questioning that decision as Pat Cummins set the cats among the pigeons in India’s top-order.

The pacer was the most impressive of Australia’s bowlers in the first innings and he bettered that performance by some distance in a remarkable spell of fast bowling. Cummins got the better of Hanuma Vihari for the second time in the match with a short delivery before having both of India’s first-innings top-scorers Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli dismissed for a duck.

Both the batsmen were caught by Harris who was interestingly positioned at leg-gully. Ajinkya Rahane was the fourth batsman to perish to Cummins with the India middle-order stalwart also being caught down the leg-side by Tim Paine.

Cummins’ sensational burst of 4-10 completed an extraordinary final session on Friday in which eight wickets fell.

Cummins has given Australia a slim opening.

Cummins has given Australia a slim opening.

RAIN THREAT LOOMS LARGE FOR REMAINDER OF TEST

With two days of cricket still to be played in the Test, India will fancy their chances of taking an unassailable 2-1 lead in the series. The Aussies too, will hold slim hopes of pulling off an improbable chase following the late show from Cummins.

However, the prospect of rain threatens to mar such plans for both teams. The weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday does not look too promising with rain predicted to fall on both days.

In such a case, the prospect of a draw cannot be ruled out and it’s the hosts who will be now hoping that the forecast proves to be correct. It will still be a tall order for the Aussies to escape with anything other than a loss based on their first-innings showing with the bat but it will be interesting to see how the visitors alter their plans on the fourth day with the weather forecast in mind.

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