Cheteshwar Pujara scored his second century of the series before Australia barely survived a tense six-over period to reach eight without loss at stumps Thursday to trail India by 435 runs after the second day of the third Test. (MATCH SCORECARD)
India's captain Virat Kohli declared his side's first innings closed at 443/7, on a Melbourne Cricket Ground pitch that offered variable bounce including the occasional delivery that didn't rise above ankle height.
Australia's openers Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris faced a nervous time at the batting crease. Harris ducked into a bouncer from Jasprit Bumrah in the fourth over, after the ball kept lower than expected.
When play resumed, a shaken Harris almost edged the next delivery onto his stumps. Harris was also playing and missing in the final over of the day, bowled by Bumrah.
While India failed to provide a great deal of entertainment, crawling along at a scoring rate of 2.61 runs per over, the slow-paced pitch was largely to blame as it made it difficult to play attacking shots.
Cheteshwar Pujara (106) scored his second hundred of the series, after his 123 in the first Test at Adelaide, and added 170 for the third wicket with Kohli (82) after India had resumed on 215-2.
World No.1-ranked batsman Kohli had treatment on 75 for what appeared to be a back injury and was out seven runs later, as he chipped a catch to third man off the bowling of Mitchell Starc (2-87).
Kohli, who fell 18 runs short of his sixth Test century of 2018, struck nine fours from 204 deliveries.
Three overs later, Pat Cummins (3-72) bowled Pujara with a ball that kept alarmingly low, ending a disciplined knock that included 10 fours off 319 balls. The manner of his dismissal at 299-4 left the in-form Pujara looking stunned, after he had been struck on the glove earlier in the over by a rising delivery which pitched at a similar length.
But sloppy fielding cost Australia dearly.
Rohit Sharma (63 not out) and Rishabh Pant (39) shared a 76-run stand after both were dropped on 15 off the bowling of Lyon (1-110).
Sharma offered a simple chance to short fine leg where substitute fielder Peter Siddle grassed the ball, while Cummins at long-on never looked comfortable after Pant chipped a catch in his direction.
The pitch for last year's Melbourne Test between Australia and England was officially rated as poor by the match referee after it ended in a dull draw. More poor ratings would mean the MCG is at risk of losing the right to host the Boxing Day Test.
The four-Test series is level at one-all.