Melbourne: Pacer Pat Cummins doubled up his career-best bowling effort with a stubborn unbeaten half-century to help Australia reach 258/8 and deny India an easy win at stumps on Day 4 of the third Test here on Saturday.
Cummins, who starred with the ball, picking up a career best 6/27 in India's second essay, displayed his batting prowess by top-scoring for the hosts with an 61 unbeaten after the top-order left the hosts reeling.
With predictions of heavy downpour on Sunday, Cummins and Nathan Lyon (6 batting) batted sensibly to raise an unbeaten 43-run ninth wicket stand as the umpires allowed an extra half hour before dislodging the bails for the day.
Chasing a massive 399, Australia lost half their side within the first two sessions of play and lost three more in the final session, courtesy a combined effort of disciplined bowling from the Indian attack.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja emerged as the pick of the bowlers, returning 3/82 even as the pace duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami took two apiece.
Veteran Ishant Sharma got the dangerous Travis Head (34) to further dent the hosts' hopes of a comeback.
Bumrah started the second innings with the wickets of the off-colour opener Aaron Finch (3) and top scorer Shaun Marsh (44), while Jadeja got rid of the other opener Marcus Harris (13), and followed that up with the wickets of skipper Tim Paine (26) and Mitchell Marsh (10). In between, Shami trapped Usman Khwaja (33) and later came back to remove Mitchell Starc (18) to reduce the hosts to 215/8.
Resuming the third and final session at 138/5, Head and Paine looked positive before Ishant got Head's stumps flying while Paine batted sensibly with new man Cummins.
But once Paine departed to a brilliant low catch from his opposite number behind the stumps, Cummins took the onus and helped the team to a 39-run eighth wicket stand with fellow quick Starc before joining hands with Lyon. Earlier, Bumrah and Jadeja struck once each to see off the Aussie openers Finch and Harris, respectively and reduce the hosts to 44/2 by lunch after India had declared their second innings at 106/8 after an hour of batting in the first session.
Brief Scores: Australia: 151 &amp; 258/8 (Pat Cummins 61 batting, Shaun Marsh 44, Usman Khawaja 33; Ravindra Jadeja 3/82, Jasprit Bumrah 2/53) vs India: 443/7(d) &amp; 106/8(d) (Mayank Agarwal 42, Rishabh Pant 33; Pat Cummins 6/27) at stumps on Day 4. (IANS)