India finds themselves on the brink of a historic win at the Melbourne Cricket Ground but was denied by a defiant half-century from Pat Cummins, who stayed unbeaten on a 103-ball 61 and forced the fifth day in the Boxing Day Test. Having set Australia an improbable target of 399, Indian bowler bowled with good lengths and discipline to take eight-second innings wickets but were not allowed to run through the hosts tail despite taking an extra half an hour.
Having started the day at 5-54, overnight batsmen Mayank Agarwal and Rishabh Pant came out with an intent to attack but shot-making wasn't easy as it looked on Friday, forcing the debutant opener to take on Nathan Lyon.
Consequently, Agarwal carted Lyon for two sixes in a single over before Pat Cummins came to the fore for Australia yet again, forcing Mayank on the backfoot, before getting one to stay low and have him play onto his off-stump. That gave Cummins his fifth, and soon he got Jadeja fending off to a bouncer, to register his career-best figures of 6-27.
Rishabh Pant's dismissal off Hazlewood in the very next over prompted India to declare and set Australia a record-breaking [at the MCG] run-chase of 399.
Australia's run-chase started on a false note as the opening stand could not last more than 2 overs. Aaron Finch survived a close LBW shout off Bumrah before offering catching practice to Kohli at second slip. Marcus Harris saw off the menacing spell from the fast bowlers before offering hard hands off Jadeja to get caught at short-leg.
Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh strode out with positive intent after Lunch. Khwaja made full use of both conventional and reverse sweeps to unsettle Jadeja.
But, Shami's probed away with his relentless line and length and ultimately trapped Khwaja on the backfoot with a straightish length ball inducing the left-hander to play inside the line.
Despite, losing three wickets, Marsh and Head continued to play with a positive mindset. Marsh used his feet with aplomb against Jadeja while Travis Head creamed some audacious drives off the front foot.
An enterprising 50-run stand forced Kohli to turn to Jasprit Bumrah, who, as he has done throughout the calendar year turned out to be the partnership breaker.
After bamboozling Marsh with a freakish slow delivery in the first inning, Bumrah did an encore- this time, however, Marsh would have reasons to feel unlucky. On the naked eye, it looked like the ball was going down the leg-side but with Ian Gould adjudging it in Bumrah's favor, the on-field decision stayed after Marsh decided to go upstairs.
Post Marsh's dismissal, Kohli brought Jadeja back into the attack and the left-hander posed questions straight away, accounting for Mitch Marsh, who chipped it straight to short cover.
Ishant Sharma accounted for Travis Head after Tea and when Tim Paine [caught-behind] and Mitchell Starc, who got his stumps rattled followed suit, a four-day finish at the MCG looked imminent.
But, Pat Cummins, who had just registered his career-best figures of 6-27 earlier in the day, stood firm to stroke his second-half-century.
His 40-run stand with Nathan Lyon ensured that Virat Kohli and his team will have to come back tomorrow to achieve what would be a historic win- first since 1981, at the MCG.
India [d7-443, Agarwal 76, Pujara 106, Pat Cummins 3-72 & d8-106, Agarwal 42, Pat Cummins 6-27] lead Australiaa [151, Harris 22, Bumrah 6-33 & 8-255, Pat Cummins 61 not out, R Jadeja 3-82] by 141 runs