ADELAIDE – India grabbed the key wickets of Shaun Marsh and Travis Head as they inched towards their first Test win on Australian soil in a decade Monday, with the home team battling to stay in the game.
The hosts are chasing target of 323, a score never before successfully achieved in a fourth innings run chase at the Adelaide Oval.
They resumed the final day of the opening Test needing another 219 for victory with four wickets down.
Head added just three runs to his overnight 11 and when Marsh fell for 60 to leave the Australians 156 for 6, the odds shifted heavily in India's favour.
But by lunch Australia had fought to 186 for 6, still needing a further 137 runs for victory, with skipper Tim Paine not out 40 and Pat Cummins on five.
Mohammed Shami had 2 for 40 and Ravichandran Ashwin 2 for 71.
Marsh and Head started cautiously, grinding out 11 runs in the opening seven overs before seamer Ishant Sharma struck with the score on 115, bowling a bouncer that caught Head's bat as he tried to fend it off and Ajinkya Rahane took the catch at gully.
Paine joined Marsh and they upped the ante, capitalising on some loose balls from Shami to steadily chip away and close the gap.
Marsh brought up a valuable 50 - his 10th in Tests -- with a boundary from a pull shot off spinner Ashwin.
It was a much-needed knock for the left-hander, who was on a run of six consecutive single-figure Test scores, although he has been in scintillating form in domestic cricket.
But he didn't last much longer with Jasprit Bumrah getting the big breakthrough as Marsh pushed at a perfectly angled delivery, getting a faint edge to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps.
Cummins, whose highest Test score is 50, survived two big reviews within four balls, with the technology both times going in his favour to keep Australia in the hunt.
Australia has been a tough place for India to tour. They have never won a series here and have tasted victory in only five matches in more than 70 years.
The last Test they won in Australia was at the WACA Ground in Perth in 2008, and the last one in Adelaide was in 2003.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)