CRICKET

Aussie hopes extinguished in third Test

Australia's hopes of victory in their third Test against India have been all but extinguished in Ranchi, where the hosts have a 152-run lead after reaching 9-603 at stumps on day four.

The top-ranked Test nation declared at 9-603 on Sunday. Australia slipped to 2-23 in response at stumps, with David Warner and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon both bowled by Ravindra Jadeja.

A draw looms as the best possible outcome for Steve Smith's side. Smith, who scored 178 not out in the first innings to give Australia the upper hand, will walk out to bat at the start of play on Monday still wondering how it all went so wrong on a lopsided fourth day that broke all manner of records.

Cheteshwar Pujara was unbeaten on 164 at the end of Sunday's second session. Pujara has spent almost 11 hours at the crease and faced a record-breaking 505 deliveries, making it the longest Test innings by an Indian.

Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha, who is 99 not out after being dropped by counterpart Matthew Wade on 51, forced the visiting bowlers to work overtime on a pitch offering limited assistance.

Pujara and Saha both refused to lift the run-rate as Australia showed increasing signs of fatigue and frustration during Sunday's two wicket-less sessions.

'Only one side can win ... if you're going to have a red-hot crack and not waste these four days then now is the time for a quick-fire 60 or 70 runs,' former Australia opener Matthew Hayden said on Star Sports late in the post-lunch session.

India resumed at 6-360 on Sunday morning, with the crunch clash in the balance. The four-Test series is level at 1-1 and Australia will retain the Border- Gavaskar trophy if they win in Ranchi.

Steve O'Keefe, who created the straightforward chance that Wade put down in the 156th over, has bowled a staggering 67 overs.

It is the most overs delivered by an Australian in a Test innings since Shane Warne sent down 70 overs in Cape Town some 15 years ago.

The visitors actually struck twice during the morning session but on both occasions the verdict was overturned by the third umpire.

Pat Cummins trapped Saha lbw for 19 with his first delivery of the day, but ball-tracking replays suggested the reverse-swinging delivery would have missed leg stump.

Pujara was on 157 when he misread a sharp-turning ball from Nathan Lyon. Ian Gould judged the right-hander lbw, but India again successfully reviewed.

Josh Hazlewood sprayed both Pujara and Saha as the batsmen easily dealt with a bouncer barrage in the morning, while Lyon was clearly bothered by the callus on his spinning finger.

AAP