Last updated January 11, 2021 12:33PM AEDT
Welcome to our live coverage of day five of the third Test between Australia and India.
The tourists face the tough prospect of chasing down 407 for victory, or surviving the entire day to secure what would be a memorable draw.
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Australia will be hoping to run through the Indian batting line-up and take a 2-1 series lead.
India is gritting its teeth and fighting for every inch in Sydney as Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant dominated the opening session.
After losing Ajinkya Rahane in the second over of the day, the defiant pair remained unbeaten at lunch as the tourists had a bite to eat at 3/206, having scored 108 runs on Monday morning.
Pujara headed to the break on 41 while Pant was 73 not out.
Rishabh Pant blazed his way to a half century, playing strokes more commonly seen in the white ball game.
He spanked Nathan Lyon over cover for six then danced down the track very next ball and plonked the spinner over long for another maximum – his third of the day.
A single out to point then brought up Pant’s 50 off just 64 balls as the wicketkeeper decided attack was the best form of defence.
Next ball Pant cut Mitchell Starc for four, prompting Fox Sports commentator Mark Howard to praise the “extraordinary” counterattack that saw the Indian score 17 runs in four deliveries.
Former Australian fast bowler Stuart Clark was stunned.
“What’s going on? Tell me, what’s going on?” he said in commentary for ABC radio.
Cricket writer Anand Vasu called Pant’s knock an “astonishing half century in the circumstances” on Twitter.
Pant’s innings nearly ended on 56 when yet another outside edge off Lyon was put down by Tim Paine – in a nearly identical chance to the Aussie skipper’s dropped catch when Pant was new to the crease.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant have steadied the ship after Ajinkya Rahane’s early departure, guiding the Indians to 3/130.
Pujara was criticised by Ricky Ponting for scoring too slowly in the first innings but strike rate isn’t an issue today as survival takes priority.
An hour into the day, Pujara was unbeaten on 22 from 75 balls while Pant, promoted to No. 5, was 19 off 40 balls and deposited Nathan Lyon over the long-on fence for a huge six.
Pant was lucky to survive when an outside edge from Josh Hazlewood flew just wide of Steve Smith in the cordon after Tim Paine left a gap at second slip.
Australia took just 10 balls to draw first blood as Nathan Lyon took his first wicket of the Test.
He drew Ajinkya Rahane forward and the ball turned sharply, caught the inside edge and spat out to Matthew Wade at short leg who snaffled the chance.
The wicket came immediately after Shane Warne said in commentary: “It’s not easy. Some people think you just rock up on day five and you’re going to take the wickets because it’s going to turn.”
But Lyon had other ideas, striking in his first over as the deteriorating SCG surface came to his aid.
Rahane was out for four and India was 3/102 as Rishabh Pant came to the crease.
— News Cricket (@NewsCorpCricket) January 10, 2021
Lyon almost had a second scalp shortly after when he found Pant’s outside edge, but the deflection hit the end of Tim Paine’s fingers behind the stumps.
Sachin Tendulkar and other Indian stars have weighed in on the allegations of crowd abuse at the SCG.
Play was stopped on day four when fast bowler Mohammed Siraj complained of being abused on the boundary, and the Indian camp has subsequently alleged the taunts were racist in nature.
Taking to Twitter, Tendulkar wrote: “SPORT is meant to UNITE us, not DIVIDE us.
“Cricket never discriminates. The bat & ball recognises talent of the person holding them – not race, colour, religion or nationality. Those who don’t understand this have NO PLACE in a sporting arena.”
Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh added: “I personally have heard many things on the field while playing in Australia about Me My religion My colour and much more..This isn’t the first time the crowd is doing this nonsense…How do u stop them??”
Ex-Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin told the Press Trust of India: “Every time we play with Australia, something of this thing happens. It is becoming a regular affair. Nobody should tolerate all these things.”
Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack says “there is no place for racism in Australia” but another aspect of his response to allegations of abuse by spectators at the third Test has come under scrutiny.
Play stopped for about 10 minutes on Sunday after Indian fast bowler Mohammed Siraj complained he was being abused by a section of the SCG crowd while fielding at fine leg.
Several men were ejected from the ground by police and an investigation is taking place into what was said. The Indian camp said after play copping racist abuse from Australian crowds is nothing new, spinner Ravichandran Ashwin saying he has experienced it regularly across his four tours Down Under.
In response to spectators being kicked out, McCormack said “if racist remarks have been made, then the appropriate action has taken place”. However, somewhat bizarrely, he then dragged Australia’s on-field chances of winning the Test into the picture.
“Australia’s performance in this Test so far has been very solid – the team won’t be distracted by this as it pushes on to victory,” he said.
AAP sports reporter Scott Bailey suggested it was a highly unusual correlation to make.
“Oh great. The acting Prime Minister felt it necessary to point out he hopes claims of racism at the SCG won’t distract Australia’s push for victory in the Test,” Bailey tweeted.
“Why would a country’s leader even feel the need to have that in a statement? Some perspective, please!
“I mean of course he or anyone can hope Australian or their team wins. But for an acting Prime Minister to link the two things in a statement is absolutely bizarre.”
Tim Paine has been fined 15 per cent of his match fee but avoided a suspension after swearing at umpire Paul Wilson on day three of the third Test.
The Australian captain demanded “f***ing consistency” when a close DRS call went against the home side, as Paine challenged an initial not-out decision after thinking Cheteshwar Pujara had inside edged Nathan Lyon to Matthew Wade at short leg.
Had the wicketkeeper been charged with a more serious offence, he faced a possible ban and may have missed the final Test in Brisbane. But luckily for the Aussies, he was only handed one demerit point for dissent and will be free to play.