Ranchi, March 20: Australia fought back in the second session to cut down the deficit to three runs and not lose a wicket as they posted 149/4 at tea on the fifth day of the third cricket Test match here on Monday.
The fightback was led by Shaun Marsh (38 off 127) and Peter Handscomb (44 off 115), who stitched together a 86-run stand for the fifth wicket.
The tourists still have six wickets in hand and going into the final session, the match is now likely to end in stalemate.
Earlier, overnight batsmen Matt Renshaw (15) and Steve Smith (21) started the day in good vein, trying to bat for as long as possible, taking occasional scoring opportunities but not taking any risks whatsoever.
But Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja struck in the space of four deliveries to send both the batsmen back to the pavilion with the Aussies tottering at 83/4 at lunch.
Marsh and Handscomb refused to panic, combining for a calm and sensible stand of 86 that reduced India’s lead to just three runs and also prevented India from taking a single wicket in the afternoon session.
The second new ball, available 11 overs into the final session, will be India’s last straw.
India’s cause of worry was Ravichandran Ashwin, who looked off colour, giving away 14 runs in an over to Handscomb, which forced skipper Virat Kohli to replace him with Jadeja.
Handscomb and Marsh continued their drift towards the interval, neither doing anything flashy.