SYDNEY: Usman Khawaja departed early but Marcus Harris hit a half-century as Australia started the arduous business of chasing down India’s mammoth first-innings tally on the third morning of the fourth Test on Saturday.
The tourists, who after victories in Adelaide and Melbourne need only a draw to clinch their first series victory in Australia, had declared on 622 for seven late on day two and the hosts resumed on 24 without loss.
Opener Harris (77) and Marnus Labuschagne (18) took them to lunch at 122 for one on another sweltering day at a Sydney Cricket Ground swathed in pink for the McGrath Foundation charity day.
Lefthander Harris, who showed positive intent from the start, had a minor scare when it looked like KL Rahul might have snared a catch at mid-on but the fielder sportingly signalled that the ball had not carried.
The openers had put on 72 when Khawaja, moved up from number three to replace the dropped Aaron Finch, became left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav’s 20th Test victim.
On 27 and looking to dominate the youngster, Khawaja charged down the wicket to slog the ball but only succeeded in slapping it to Australia’s batting nemesis Cheteshwar Pujara.
Harris, playing in his fourth Test, batted more sensibly but with no little aggression and raced to his second Test half-century in 67 balls, reaching the milestone with a single to point.
He doled out a little bit of punishment to Kuldeep, plundering three of his eight fours in one over from the 21-year-old, and eased past his previous best Test score of 70 with a couple of runs through the covers.
Hanuma Vihari also suffered at the hands of Labuschagne when fielding at short-leg, taking a ball in the upper thigh from point-blank range.
Ominously for Australia, after two days when their quicks were unable to benefit from any movement, India’s pacemen started to get some reverse swing going in the half hour before lunch.