MELBOURNE (AFP) – An unbeaten half-century by Shaun Marsh put Australia in a strong position on Monday, setting India a near-record task if they are to win the third Test in Melbourne.
Marsh produced one of his finest knocks for his country with 62 to steer Australia to 261 for seven, giving the hosts an overall lead of 326 runs heading into Tuesday’s final day.
The Indians will have to defy history at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground where they have not won for 33 years to keep the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series alive to next week’s fourth and final Test in Sydney.
The highest successful run chase in the fourth innings at the MCG remains 332 for seven by England against Australia in 1928.
Teams have struggled to score more than 250 in the fourth innings on the drop-in pitch in recent years, with India all out for 169 (2011) and 161 (2007) in their last two Tests at the ground, both defeats.
Australia has to decide whether to declare overnight or bat on with a total of 96 overs to be bowled on the fifth day.
It was Marsh’s fighting innings which tilted the Test Australia’s way after India reduced the home side to 176 for five, claiming the key wickets of Steve Smith and Chris Rogers in the process.
The tourists kept the clamps on the Australian batting in a tense final session, before Marsh clawed back the advantage.
The tourists removed Smith for just 14 after the Aussie skipper scored 192 in the first innings in his third century of the series.
Veteran opener Rogers reached his fourth consecutive half-century of the series but again failed to go on with it and was bowled by Ravi Ashwin for 69 nearing tea.
Rogers was dropped on 33 in the slips by Shikhar Dhawan on the second ball after a lengthy rain delay and had another big moment on 56 before his dismissal.
Umpire Richard Kettleborough called for the video umpire to check if the ball had carried in a claimed catch by MS Dhoni off Mohammed Shami.