NEW DELHI: After leading Australia to a famous victory in India on Friday, Steve Smith said his captaincy “time is up”. Smith led the team in the absence of pat cummins who returned home after the second test to take care of his sick mother.
Australia secured a nine-wicket win at Indore on a ground that offered vicious spin and low rebounding, with Nathan Lyons wreaking havoc in India’s second leg.
“My time is up. It’s Pat’s team now,” said the 33-year-old.
Australia crush India in 3rd Test to advance to WTC Finals
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Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne kept their composure on a viciously cornering Indore pitch to guide Australia to a nine-wicket victory.
The Indore Test victory is only Australia’s second victory in India since 2004.
After Australia were beaten in the first two Tests in three days, the series now sits at 2-1 against the hosts with one game to play.
Labuschagne finished on 28 out and Head on 49, after losing flyhalf Usman Khawaja for just the second ball of the day.
The hard-fought victory secured Australia a place in the ICC World Test Championship final in June at The Oval.
India will be sure of their place in the final if they win the fourth Test in Ahmedabad.
In a low-scoring and frantic encounter, Australia beat India for 109 on the first day with spinner Matthew Kuhnemann claiming five wickets.
In response, Australia got off to a good start before crashing to 197 before lunch on day two, their last six wickets dropping to just 11 runs.
Eight wickets for spinner Nathan Lyon saw India consolidate for 163 in their second innings, setting a win target of 76.
Chasing 76, Australia lost Usman Khawaja early. Khawaja edged R Ashwin to keeper Srikar Bharat for a duck.
After 45 minutes, Labuschagne and Head switched gears. Head tossed Ashwin for a six over the middle and the next one pierced Ravindra Jadeja on the floor for a four as the chains came loose.
Labuschagne also came on, hitting Jadeja for a four and dismissing a short delivery from Ashwin on a half volley for another four to bring a rare Australian victory in India.
Smith, who was stripped as captain and handed a one-year ban for a ball-tampering incident in 2018, said he still enjoys making the big calls.
“Listen, India is a part of the world that I love to be captain of,” Smith said.
“It’s a game of chess, every ball means something. It’s good to just move people around and try to get the hitter to do something different and play with them.
“It’s probably my favorite place in the world to be a captain.”
Australia trail the four-game series 1-2. They lost the opening Test by one innings and 132 runs at Nagpur and then suffered a six-wicket defeat at Delhi.
3rd Test: How Nathan Lyon tore the heart of India’s batting lineup
It’s not the first time that Nathan Lyon has ripped the heart out of the Indian batting roster by earning his second-best Test numbers in the process.
Lyon took 8/64 in India’s second set to turn the game around on Day 2.
The tumultuous Test match fell on Lyon’s well-honed fingers to save Australia.
Lyon found that perfect length for the pitch, threw in attacking lines and pocketed the wicket if one turned slightly or went with the arm.
The perfect example on day two of the Indore Test was the dismissal of Indian wicketkeeper KS Bharat.
The ball went through the batter’s defenses causing him to play the wrong line while thinking of a possible turn.
Lyon rolled around the stumps, again relentlessly, for most of their time, and let useful grounds like that at Holkar Stadium do the rest.
Lyon bowling perfectly reflects the fact that it doesn’t quite fit the mold of the “flashy genius” of some former big names in Australian spinning.
Lyon found in Smith an old and capable ally as a proactive captain who kept things interesting with restrictive fields and men in capture positions to slowly strangle India.
Lyon’s deeds in the subcontinent speak for themselves and, in essence, stalling is a matter of perseverance.
“We screwed up I guess in Delhi, that’s one way of putting it,” Smith said.
“We had an opportunity there and we let that go but we had a good break and preparation coming here and it was just about restoring our mental state.”
Friday’s win was just Australia’s second Test victory in India since 2004 and means they will go to the ICC World Test Championship final in June at The Oval.
“It’s very satisfying, I thought it was a great team performance from day one,” Smith said.
(With contributions from AFP)