Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma made half-centuries as India showed resistance to hold up England on day three of the third Test at Headingley.

England held a mammoth first-innings lead of 354 after being bowled out for 432 early in the morning session.

India, leading the five-match series 1-0, had been humiliatingly skittled out for 78 on day one, but closed on 215-2 after England were only able to remove KL Rahul (eight) Rohit (59) on Friday.

Pujara returned to form with an unbeaten 91 and Virat Kohli was 45 not out at stumps, with the tourists trailing by 139.

England added only nine runs to their overnight total after resuming on 423-8, Mohammed Shami (4-95) dismissing Craig Overton leg before wicket for 32 and Ollie Robinson cleaned up by Jasprit Bumrah without scoring.

The India openers showed great application as the England seamers probed with the new ball and it took a moment of brilliance from Jonny Bairstow on the stroke of lunch to end a stand of 34.

KL Rahul walked off shaking his head after he edged an excellent delivery from Overton and second-slip Bairstow dived to his left to claim a stunning one-handed catch.

Rohit and Pujara played with a mixture of patience and positivity in a wicket-less afternoon session, with the opener appearing to have a stroke of luck on 39 when Joe Root failed to signal for a review in time after Robinson struck him on the pad.

He brought up his half-century from 125 balls before Robinson snared him lbw.

Pujara was untroubled as he serenely eased to a half-century and Kohli also looked very much at home on a good pitch under gloomy skies as England were unable to make further inroads, with the new ball due early on day four.

 

PUJARA SHOWS HIS CLASS

Pujara's place has been called into question as he has looked totally out of sorts, but he showed his class in Leeds on the third day.

The 33-year-old had failed to make it to 50 in his previous 13 innings before demonstrating what he is capable of with his side on the ropes.

Pujara scored far more freely, driving with finesse and even ramping Robinson for four in a first half-century since making 73 against England in Chennai in February.

KOHLI LOOKING OMINOUS

Captain Kohli has also been short of runs, but that was no evidence of that on a frustrating day for England.

The skipper struck two boundaries in the first over from James Anderson, who dismissed him for the seventh time in the longest format in the first innings.

Kohli, without a Test century since November 2019, ticked along as India put such a dismal display with the bat on the opening day behind them.

KL Rahul controlled day one of the second Test at Lord's, helping India move into a commanding position after being put in amid gloomy conditions by England captain Joe Root.

England had James Anderson to call on at the start of the second Test despite concerns over a thigh injury, but another fine spell from the veteran pace bowler provided only brief respite.

Rohit Sharma dug in to make 83 before Anderson (2-52) was able to intervene, while losing Cheteshwar Pujara (nine) did not disrupt Rahul en route to reaching 127 not out.

After pairing with Rohit to put on 126, the opener added 117 with Virat Kohli (42) and was still unbeaten as India reached stumps on 276-3, albeit having by that stage lost their skipper to Ollie Robinson.

The London cloud cover should have made the tourists work, yet rain delays denied England any early momentum and Rohit instead brought up a patient half-century after lunch, India reaching three figures without too many alarms.

Typically, it was Anderson who then provided the much-needed breakthrough, getting a sublime ball to nip back in and clip the top of Rohit's off stump.

Anderson continued to apply the pressure and Pujara survived an lbw review and a narrow escape through the slips. However, when his edge was found again, Jonny Bairstow claimed a simple catch.

India regrouped at tea, however, and the weather cleared to allow Rahul – passing the hundred mark with a four through third man – and captain Kohli to bat late into the final session.

The second new ball and an Anderson-Robinson attack turned up the heat just a little and Kohli edged to opposite number Root, but that dismissal did little to alter the complexion of the day or, seemingly, the match while England's desperation saw another review squandered in the closing stages.

Anderson at the fore again

England have depth in their bowling attack, but they also have plenty of injuries. If Anderson had missed out too, this testing day could have been considerably worse for the hosts.

In his 164th Test, Anderson proved as reliable as ever to offer a glimmer of hope, before Robinson (1-47) finally got in on the act, adding a wicket to the side's most economical bowling figures (2.04 runs per over).

Rahul relishes opportunity

India's batsmen rather failed to build on a promising start in their opening innings of the drawn series opener at Trent Bridge. This time, asked to have a go in conditions that should have suited England's bowlers, they excelled.

Rohit minimised the risks but still tallied 11 fours and a six, before Rahul showed off the wealth of talent India have to offer. He may not even have played if not for Mayank Agarwal's injury yet moved through the gears in impressive fashion to secure a place on the famous honours board from his 212th ball.

Trent Boult and Rahul Chahar took three wickets apiece as Mumbai Indians claimed their second victory of the 2021 Indian Premier League against winless Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Mumbai posted a modest 150-5 from their allocation on Saturday with the total boosted largely to some valuable late-order hitting from Kieron Pollard.

Jonny Bairstow (43 off 22) laid a solid platform for Hyderabad's reply with an aggressive knock alongside the more cautious David Warner (36 off 34).

But both men departed to soft dismissals before India leg-spinner Rahul (3-19) stifled the middle order and Boult (3-28) blew away the tail as Hyderabad were bowled out for 137.

Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma (32) and fellow opener Quinton de Kock (40) made good use of the powerplay after they had elected to bat first as they picked up length well, punishing anything short, on a slow pitch in Chennai.

Mumbai's innings stuttered in the middle overs as Vijay Shankar (2-19) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2-29) put the brakes on before Pollard (35 not out) whacked 16 crucial runs off the last over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Boult and Jasprit Bumrah initially made life tough for Hyderabad before Bairstow exploded in with a brutal assault, striking three fours and four sixes before he stepped on his stumps trying to work a ball from Krunal Pandya.

Hyderabad skipper Warner was then run out and Rahul's leggies swung the momentum Mumbai's way with three wickets before Boult and Bumrah (1-14) proved formidable at the death.

The victory took Mumbai top of the table, until Sunday at least, while Hyderabad are languishing at the bottom.

Sunrisers need more from Bairstow and Warner

In the third over of their reply, England's Bairstow launched a towering six off Boult straight down the ground which shattered the glass on a drinks fridge next to the Sunrisers' dugout.

His 43 off 22 balls got Hyderabad's reply off to a great start while Australian Warner played a more methodical innings to put his side within striking distance.

Both openers, however, were out to soft dismissals – Warner made a daft call for a single while Bairstow was out hit wicket – and the pair need to place greater value on their wickets.

Boult and Bumrah masterful 

Rahul caught the eye with his with his leg spin as he removed the top-six wickets of Manish Pandey, Virat Singh and Abhishek Sharma.

But at the business end of the game New Zealand left-armer Boult and India paceman Bumrah, who did not concede a single boundary, gave an exhibition in how to bowl at the death to snuff out any lingering Hyderabad's hopes.

That was backed up by some superb fielding from Hardik Pandya, who prowled the infield sharply and claimed two run outs including Warner.

Mumbai Indians are favourites to claim a historic third successive Indian Premier League crown back on home soil.

The Indians retained their title in Dubai last year with a victory over Delhi Capitals, taking their record tally of IPL triumphs to a five.

Rohit Sharma's side will be the team to beat in a competition that will be played in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, having been staged overseas in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore look the most likely sides to prevent Mumbai from becoming the first franchise to win three consecutive IPL titles.

We pick out some of the things to look out for in what promises to be a mouthwatering extravaganza of cricket, which starts on Friday in a country that will stage the T20 World Cup later this year.

 

INDIANS PRIMED FOR THREE IN A ROW

The champions start the defence of their title with a blockbuster showdown against RCB in the first game of the tournament at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

Mumbai will have to wait for Quinton de Kock's arrival as he is on duty with South Africa, so skipper Rohit will be expected to set the tone at the top of the order.

The India opener is the fourth-highest run-scorer in IPL history with 5,230 at an average of 31.31 and, although the 2020 edition was not one of his best, he struck a rapid 68 in the final. Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav played significant hands with the bat in Mumbai's 2020 success.

Trent Boult was man of the match in that win over Delhi after taking 3-30 and the New Zealand seamer will have a big part to play with the ball along with Jasprit Bumrah.

 

STAND-IN SKIPPER PANT CAN LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Delhi's first IPL final proved to be painful in November, but they will fancy their chances of going one better under the captaincy of Rishabh Pant.

The addition of Steve Smith, who was released by Rajasthan Royals, is a major tonic, while Umesh Yadav and Sam Billings are among their other new recruits.

Kagiso Rabada was the leading wicket-taker in last year's tournament with 30 at 18.26 and Delhi will need him to fire again along with fellow Proteas quick Anrich Nortje.

Ravichandran Ashwin should be on a high from his Test exploits for India against England, while the in-form Pant can thrive as skipper with Shreyas Iyer ruled out due to a shoulder injury.

MORRIS UNDER PRESSURE TO JUSTIFY PRICE TAG

Chris Morris became the most expensive signing in IPL history when he was snapped up by Rajasthan Royals for 16.25crore (around £1.6million).

That staggering fee put the South Africa all-rounder ahead of Yuvraj Singh (16cr) as the biggest ever auction acquisition.

Morris was 20th on the list of the leading wicket-takers last year when featuring for RCB and only batted five times, with a top score of 25 not out.

 

ROY TO REUNITE WITH BAIRSTOW

England batsman Roy went unsold at auction but was drafted in by Sunrisers Hyderabad last week after Mitchell Marsh withdrew for personal reasons.

Sunrisers coach Trevor Bayliss was clearly excited by the prospect of Roy and Jonny Bairstow forming a pairing that has served England so well.

Roy may have to wait for his opportunity or Sunrisers could tinker with the order, as captain David Warner and Bairstow have formed a dangerous opening pairing.

India clinched a 3-2 Twenty20 series victory over England after coming out on top in a high-scoring decider at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

The hosts triumphed by 36 runs as they prevailed for a second successive outing after being put into bat by visiting skipper Eoin Morgan, with the previous encounters all won by the team chasing.

Captain Virat Kohli – shifted up to open – led the way with 80 not out as India amassed 224-2, their fourth highest total in the shortest format.

Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan both made half-centuries as England raced out of the blocks in reply, yet their chase ran out of steam. Unable to hit boundaries regularly when it mattered, they finished up on 188-8.

India had also made a fast start when they batted thanks mainly to Rohit Sharma. He dominated an opening partnership worth 94, belatedly making a major contribution in the series with 64 from just 34 deliveries.

Ben Stokes finally ended the initial onslaught thanks to an inside edge onto the stumps, though there was little respite for England's bowlers as the runs continued to flow.

Suryakumar Yadav (32) wasted little time in going on the attack, hitting the second and third deliveries he faced during an Adil Rashid over for six, though the leg-spinner would later dismiss the right-hander thanks to a stunning catch in the deep.

Jason Roy ended up holding the ball, though his role was a minor one. Chris Jordan had taken a superb one-handed effort on the run from long-on, then passed it on to his waiting team-mate before stepping over the boundary.

Still, Hardik Pandya capitalised on his promotion up to four with 39 not out, combining with Kohli to add 81. Mark Wood and Chris Jordan both registered unwanted half-centuries with the ball, while Jofra Archer finished with 0-43 from his four overs.

England lost Jason Roy for a duck in the first over, yet Buttler and Malan made 52 and 68 respectively to keep the game firmly in the balance.

However, amid the run-scoring carnage, Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed 2-15, including the crucial wicket of Buttler. The seam bowler's economical four overs helped put the brakes on England, who were 104-1 at the halfway stage before slipping off the pace.

World Cup on the horizon

The top two-ranked nations in T20 cricket did not disappoint in a series that offered the opportunity to explore options ahead of the World Cup on Indian soil later this year.

Kohli finished up averaging 115.5, yet new faces Yadav and Ishan Kishan also caught the eye for India with the bat. Similarly, Malan – who became the fastest player to 1,000 international runs in the format – showed in the finale how he can change his approach, depending on the match situation.

Jordan goes the distance

Not for the first time in his career, Jordan produced a sensational catch, this time to see off Yadav. However, while a fantastic asset in the field, he has struggled to have an impact with the ball in the five games.

Between overs 17-20, Jordan has been hit for eight sixes in the series. That is five more than the rest of the England attack combined, while an economy rate of 13.5 in that period will be a concern for captain Morgan.

Rohit Sharma feels India have "a lot of work to do" before they challenge for T20 World Cup glory as they prepare to face top-ranked England in a mouthwatering five-match series.

India are on a high after beating England 3-1 to secure a place in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand.

A strong England squad led by Eoin Morgan will be looking for revenge at the Narendra Modi Stadium, but face a huge test against an India side who have won six and drawn one of their previous seven series in the shortest format.

India sit second in the rankings and are eager to make a statement seven months before the T20 World Cup begins on home soil.

Vice-captain Rohit knows they are not the finished article ahead of the first match in Ahmedabad on Friday, with Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and Rahul Tewatia in line to make their debuts.

The in-form batsman said: "It's nice for the fans also to look forward to something because it's not every second year you are playing the World Cup, otherwise the charm of the World Cup goes away.

"The freshness of the World Cup remains and it's going to be an exciting World Cup as it is being played in India. We are all looking forward to that but before that, we still have a lot of work to do."

England, who whitewashed South Africa 3-0 late last year, have not lost a T20 series since they were beaten by India in 2018.

 

Malan is the man

There will be an array of outstanding batsmen on show in what should be a pulsating series and it is Dawid Malan who comes into it as the best in the world in this format.

The left-hander was named man of the series in a whitewash of the Proteas, making a magnificent 99 not out in the final match at Newlands on the back of another half-century.

England have an embarrassment of riches in the batting department, with the likes of Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and Sam Billings in the squad.

Liam Livingstone will also get the opportunity to make his mark after some explosive knocks for Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League.

Kohli closing in on historic landmark, Pant returns

India captain Virat Kohli needs only 72 more runs to become the first man to reach the 3,000 mark in T20Is.

The prolific skipper averages 50.5 for his country in the shortest format and has more runs than anyone in matches between these two nations (346).

England will also need to remove Rishabh Pant before he gets into full flow, as the wicketkeeper-batsman demonstrated when he made a scintillating century in the final Test.

Pant, who has not played a T20 for India since January 2020, averages just 20.50 at international level in this format but that figure will surely be on the rise before long.

Key Opta Facts

- Kohli has dropped more catches than any other fielder from a Test-playing nation in men's T20Is since the start of 2019 (seven), three of which were rated as easy chances.

- Malan has the highest batting average of any man to log 10 or more T20I innings (53.4 from 19 knocks). Her has reached 50 in seven of his 12 overseas knocks.

- KL Rahul recorded 670 runs from his 14 knocks in the 2020 IPL. He comes into this series having scored more runs in men's T20Is than anyone else since November 2019 (643).

- Yuzvendra Chahal is responsible for the best figures ever recorded against England in a men's T20I (6/25 in February 2017). The spinner is the leading wicket-taker in this fixture (nine), but has only claimed 15 scalps at an average of just 42.1 since the start of 2019.

India ended the opening day of the third Test against England firmly on top despite losing Virat Kohli in the final over, closing on 99-3 having bowled out their opponents for 112.

The day-night contest at the newly named Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad was viewed in the build-up as a chance for the seam bowlers to take centre stage, with the four-match series between the teams delicately poised at 1-1.

However, it was India's spinners who once again dominated proceedings, Axar Patel claiming career-best figures of 6-38 to continue his outstanding start in Test cricket. Ravichandran Ashwin - one of the star performers for India as they won the second Test in Chennai - offered superb support, taking 3-26. 

Johnny Bairstow was the first of several players to be undone by deliveries that failed to turn at all, though, as his return to the team saw him trapped lbw for a duck, leaving the tourists at 27-2 after opting to bat first. 

Zak Crawley (53) countered impressively, playing some glorious shots off the front foot in particular as he and Joe Root added 47, only for England to then suffer a stunning collapse, their final eight wickets going down for just 38 runs.

Ashwin had Root lbw for 17 – despite the England captain attempting to get a reprieve through a review – before Crawley's fluent half-century came to an end when he fell in similar fashion to Axar. 

Ollie Pope (1) and Ben Stokes (6) both perished with the score stuck on 81, England's batsmen left bamboozled once more on a turning surface to leave a long tail exposed. 

Axar claimed three of the final four wickets to go down, wrapping up the innings when Ben Foakes was bowled for 12. England had lasted just 48.2 overs, posting their lowest first-innings score in India. 

Following a superb century in the previous match, the in-form Rohit Sharma led India's reply with an unbeaten 57 that included nine fours.

Fellow opener Shubman Gill found it tougher going as he made only 11, while Cheteshwar Pujara departed for a four-ball duck to Jack Leach. The left-arm spinner also struck late to give his team renewed hope, Kohli chopping on for 27, but the hosts undoubtedly were the happier team at stumps.

Super start continues for Axar 

Axar is the first Indian spinner to take a five-wicket haul in a day-night Test, while only the sixth slow bowler to do so in such fixtures with the pink ball. 

Having missed the series opener through injury - a game England won convincingly - he has now taken 13 wickets in the series at an average of 10.61, stunning numbers for a player who has had to wait patiently for his chance in the format. 

Zak back, but England topple quickly 

With Crawley and Root together, England appeared to have overcome two early setbacks to reach 74-2 just prior to the first break in proceedings on Wednesday. The former justified the decision to pick him over Rory Burns, hitting 10 fours to at times silence the 40,000-strong crowd present. 

Yet the right-hander was not alone in falling into the trap of playing for spin that was simply not there, hit on the front pad by a delivery from Axar that instead of turning went straight on.

 

Rohit Sharma's display of "positive intent" is exactly what India needed as they looked to put their defeat to England in the first Test behind them, explained Ajinkya Rahane.

Joe Root inspired England to an impressive victory in the opening Test of the four-match series at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, but the first day of the second game went India's way.

That was, by and large, down to the supreme efforts of opener Rohit, who scored 161 of India's 300 runs as they finished the day six wickets down.

India's best partnership of the day came when Rohit combined with vice-captain Rahane (67) to put on a crucial 162-run stand after the hosts had been reduced to 86-3 in Chennai.

"I thought it was proper Indian conditions and we knew it [the pitch] would turn from day one," said Rahane.

"We were talking about partnerships – Rohit and [Cheteshwar] Pujara and then Rohit and myself. We were discussing intent – positive intent on this wicket.

"What happened in the first game was [in the] past. You can't be too defensive on this wicket and need to be one step ahead of the opposition.

"We discussed in our batting meeting on what shots to play and we had to make them change the game plan. That's what Rohit did [playing sweeps] – 150-plus on this wicket is really good. I enjoyed the cover-drive against Moeen Ali against the spin."

After striking 18 fours and a pair of sixes, Rohit's aggressive batting eventually proved his downfall, with the opener sweeping Jack Leach to Moeen in the deep.

Rishabh Pant (33 not out) and Axar Patel (five n.o) pushed India to the 300 milestone before play ended, and Rahane believes Virat Kohli's team are one more partnership shy of taking a real edge in the match.

"Add another 50-60 runs from here [will be good for us]. One more partnership from Rishabh and Axar... we're in the game," he added.

"When they were adjusting the pace and bowling quicker through the air, it was difficult."

England spinner Leach finished the day with figures of 2-78, and reflected on a difficult start for the tourists.

"I think it was definitely a hard day," Leach told Channel 4. "[Olly] Stone was back and got an early wicket and Moeen got Kohli out with a magic ball.

"It got a bit easier [to bat] as the ball got older, and you need to get partnerships and that's something we need to hold onto. We were pleased to get wickets in the end and we're in the game.

"I will reflect on my performance in the evening. I tried to bowl in a good area and see how the pitch will react. Sometimes, you need to push it through quicker and as the ball becomes older, [you] need to bowl it quicker.

"It's similar to bowling to Taunton, just pretending it's Taunton! I was cramping up and bit sore in the end – I'll be back tomorrow."

Rohit Sharma hit a brilliant 161 to help India overcome a difficult start to the second Test against England, the hosts eventually ending the opening day on 300-6 in Chennai. 

Opener Rohit combined with vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (67) to put on a crucial 162-run partnership for the fourth wicket on a pitch offering considerable help for the spinners from the outset.  

Having so impressively won the opener in the four-match series at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, England seized early control at the same venue when reducing their opponents to 86-3.  

Moeen Ali marked his recall to the XI with the prized wicket of Virat Kohli – who was bowled for a duck – as a much-changed attack prospered in the first session after losing the toss. 

Olly Stone struck with just his third delivery, Shubman Gill paying for his decision not to offer a stroke as he was dismissed lbw, stunning those India fans inside the ground as part of a reduced crowd allowed to attend amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Cheteshwar Pujara made 21 before steering Jack Leach (2-78) to Ben Stokes at slip, while Kohli was left stunned in the next over when Moeen turned one prodigiously through between bat and pad to bowl the India skipper before he had a run to his name.

However, the stand between Rohit and Rahane put the tourists on the back foot. Even when the former eventually fell, sweeping Leach out to Moeen in the deep, India were already on course for a useful first-innings total, considering the conditions.  

Rahane departed soon after, bowled by Moeen when trying an ambitious sweep shot of his own, while England captain Joe Root claimed the wicket of Ravichandran Ashwin (13). 

Still, Rishabh Pant carried India to 300 in the final over and will resume on day two on 33 not out. He will have Axar Patel for company, the Test debutant reaching the close unbeaten on five.

Mixed fortunes for Moeen 

England made the tough call to drop Dom Bess despite the off-spinner taking 17 Test wickets in 2021 at an average of 22.20. Root explained the decision was down to a lack of consistency, having only bowled eight overs in India's second innings in the previous game. 

His replacement, however, was by no means more economical. Moeen reached an unwanted century as he finished Saturday's play with figures of 2-112 from his 26 overs, though he did of course dismiss Kohli.

Home comforts for Rohit

Rohit passed 150 for the fourth time in Test cricket, while all of his centuries in the format have come on home soil. This, however, was his first at Chennai.

On a slow, worn surface, the right-hander went along at an impressive scoring rate of 69.70 runs per 100 deliveries, hitting 18 fours and a pair of sixes. In the end, England needed help from the batsman to see the back of him.

India batsman Rohit Sharma insisted he had no regrets over the shot he played for what could prove to be a key dismissal in the fourth Test against Australia. 

The tourists closed day two on 62-2 in reply to Australia's 369 all out at the Gabba. 

Opener Rohit had moved to 44 before he tried to attack Nathan Lyon (1-10) and was caught out by a running Mitchell Starc. 

India only need a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy but their task was made more difficult by losing Rohit, who twice made starts - scoring 26 and 52 – without pressing on during the draw in Sydney. 

"I was actually trying to pierce the long-on and that deep square-leg fielder, but it didn't connect the way I would have loved to," said the 33-year-old. 

"Pretty simple. It was something I won't regret. It is something I like to do.  

"I like to put the pressure on the bowler once I am in, and that is my role in the team. To make sure I keep putting that pressure on the bowlers because we have seen throughout the series how run-scoring has been difficult for both the teams. 

"Someone needs to put his hand up and think about how we can put the pressure back on the bowlers and while doing that there are chances you will make a mistake. 

"You should be ready to accept that. I am ready to accept that because it was a plan. It was something that we always planned."

Rohit added: "I actually have no regrets playing that shot. It is something I like to do.  

"Just that Nathan Lyon - we all know he is a smart bowler - bowled into me, which made it difficult for me to get some elevation. 

"It is not coming out of nowhere. It is a shot that I play. And I have played it very well in the past. It is something that I really back myself to do all the time. That is the kind of role I play in this team.  

"Yes, when it looks like that, it looks bad, but that is something I don't think too much into." 

Sunil Gavaskar was among the former players to criticise the shot selection from Rohit, who is opening the batting in Test cricket for the first time away from home during this series. 

"I have opened for India in limited overs for a long time and it is time for me to test myself in this longer format as well," added Rohit. 

"The team has shown confidence in my ability at the top. Just that I have to do what the team expects me to do.  

"Not to worry about what happens anywhere else and what people talk about me. The team expects me to play a certain role at the top of the order, and I will try to do that as much as I can." 

Only 54.2 overs were bowled due to rain on day two. Cheteshwar Pujara (8) and Ajinkya Rahane (2) were unbeaten when stumps were called, with India 307 runs adrift.

Australia were left frustrated as day two of the fourth Test against India was cut short after rain in Brisbane.

Only 54.2 overs were bowled at the Gabba on Saturday as India reached 62-2 in response to Australia's first-innings 369.

Heavy rain delayed the start of the final session before a wet outfield meant play was abandoned.

Tim Paine scored a half-century for Australia as T Natarajan (3-78), Washington Sundar (3-89) and Shardul Thakur (3-94) took three wickets each for India.

Rohit Sharma (44) wasted his start as he tried to attack Nathan Lyon (1-10) after Pat Cummins (1-22) had Shubman Gill (7) caught at second slip by Steve Smith.

Cheteshwar Pujara (8) and Ajinkya Rahane (2) were unbeaten when stumps were called, with India 307 runs adrift in the final Test of a series that is locked at 1-1.

Injury-hit India continued to fight and they only need a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Australia, though, will also lament some of their batting that could have put India under more pressure.

Starts squandered as tail wags for Australia

Marnus Labuschagne made a century on Friday, but four other batsmen made more than 36 but failed to go on for Australia.

Paine (50) and Cameron Green (47) joined that group on day two as they squandered promising starts, with Lyon (24) – playing his 100th Test – and Mitchell Starc (20 not out) lifting Australia beyond 350.

Reckless Rohit hurts India

Like many in the Australia line-up, Rohit wasted another opportunity to put together a big score in Brisbane.

He looked in control before attempting to take on Lyon one too many times, and a running Starc took a good catch. The 33-year-old is one of India's more experienced players and his dismissal left the tourists at 60-2. It comes after he made scores of 26 and 52 in Sydney.

Australia will hope the "very likely" return of David Warner can inspire them to regain the series lead as they take on India in the third Test from Thursday.

India produced an impressive turnaround in Melbourne last time out, squaring the series at 1-1 despite being without Virat Kohli and also losing the toss.

Stand-in Ajinkya Rahane stood up in the absence of India's captain, making 112 to set the tourists up for an impressive eight-wicket victory.

However, Australia are undefeated in their last nine Tests against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Indeed, their only defeat in meetings between the teams at the venue came in January 1978.

The hosts reacted to the defeat by dropping out-of-sorts opener Joe Burns, having made just 63 runs in four innings during the series.

Warner and Will Pucovski were both injured and missed the first two Tests but head coach Justin Langer gave a positive update on the former, who he thinks will be able to play through the pain.

Uncapped prospect Pucovski, meanwhile, has passed concussion examinations so will challenge Travis Head for a place in the side.

BUBBLE CONCERN FOR INDIA

India had to isolate five members of their squad as a precaution in the aftermath of the Boxing Day Test, amid concerns over a breach of protocols within the bio-secure bubble.

Rishabh Pant, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Navdeep Saini and Prithvi Shaw trained away from the rest of the squad after a video on social media showed them dining at an indoor venue in Melbourne.

However, both teams - and members of the support staff - tested negative for COVID-19 prior to travelling to Sydney to continue the four-match series.

Rohit has not featured for India on the tour so far due to injury, including missing the white-ball games that preceded the Tests, but could be involved at the SCG.

Batsman KL Rahul is out of the rest of the series with a wrist injury, ending speculation he could replace struggling Mayank Agarwal.

LANGER CONFIDENT OF SMITH RECOVERY

While the expected return of Warner could give them a boost, Australia will also be looking for a turnaround from Steve Smith.

Smith has only managed scores of 1, 0 and 8 during his completed innings in Adelaide and Melbourne, with spinner Ravichandran Ashwin having him caught in two of those three dismissals.

Ranked at three in the ICC rankings, he had only failed to reach double figures in two of his 14 previous innings since returning to Test cricket in the 2019 Ashes.

"Imagine how good we'll be when he does start batting well," said a confident Langer. "That's how I look at it.

"He hasn't had the best of series so far, he'll be the first to admit that, but my gosh, what I know about great players is the longer they miss out, the sooner it is that they're coming good again.

"So that puts a big smile on my face. I don't coach Steve Smith. Steve Smith coaches himself and I'm sure he's going to work it out. 

"He is a great player and I can't wait to watch him bat this Test match and the next Test match."

KEY OPTA FACTS

- India have lost only two of their last nine Tests against Australia (W5, D2) - they now search for back-to-back wins against them for just the second time since 2013.
- Australia's loss in the second match snapped an eight-game winning run in Tests at home; they will now look to avoid consecutive home defeats for the first time since November 2016.
- The home team dropped eight catches last time out in Melbourne, their most in a single Test since dropping nine against India in the New Year's Test of 2012 in Sydney.
- Ricky Ponting (8) is the only player to have logged more centuries at the Sydney Cricket Ground than David Warner (7) in international cricket.
- No player has taken more wickets (10) or posted a better bowling economy (2.1) than India's Ravichandran Ashwin throughout this series.
- Nathan Lyon is six wickets shy of becoming just the third Australian bowler to take 400 in men's Tests (Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath); his 89 wickets against India are his most against any team.

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