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Australia leads by 326 at stumps on day 4 vs. India

December 29, 2014

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Chris Rogers and Shaun Marsh scored half centuries as Australia built a 326-run lead over India after four days of the third test, putting the hosts in position to push for a series-clinching third-straight win.

Australia was 261-7 in its second innings at stumps Monday, losing wickets at regular intervals, but did enough to build a challenging target, reducing India’s chances of getting the win it needs to stay alive in the series.

Marsh held together the mid-to-late order and brought up his 50 with a six off Ravichandran Ashwin into the sight screen on his way to 62 not out at the end of play with Ryan Harris on 8 .

Australia is expected to resume batting Tuesday to add some quick runs, while leaving enough time to take the 10 wickets for the win.

“We need a few more runs than we have on the board at the moment,” opener David Warner said. “Shaun Marsh is batting fantastic and we saw what Ryan Harris did in the first innings.”

Warner made 40 off 42 balls to provide Australia with a fast start to its innings before being trapped lbw by Ashwin (2-56).

Ishant Sharma (2-49) claimed Shane Watson (17) shortly after the rain-delayed start of the second session when the batsman got a thick outside edge.

Captain Steve Smith’s fine run of form stalled when he made just 14 before edging an Umesh Yadav (2-73) ball to leg slip, where it was snapped up by Ajinkya Rahane.

India needs to win the third test to stay alive in the four-match series. Australia can reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy with a win or draw in Melbourne after a 48-run win in the first test and a four-wicket victory last week in the second test at Brisbane.

“Any score on the final day is going to be tricky,” Ashwin said. “It’s a test match. That’s why you call it a test match, because it tests every single aspect of your game and your attitude.

“It’s going to be hard work, but we’re up for it. We want to win games of cricket.”

Rogers (69) laced eight boundaries in his fourth-straight half-century before being bowled by Ashwin. The Australian opener had already survived two close calls: dropped at first slip when on 33 and getting an edge that did not carry to the wicketkeeper when on 56.

Joe Burns, on debut, was caught behind off Sharma, who looked increasingly dangerous as the ball produced reverse swing on a deteriorating Melbourne Cricket Ground pitch.

“Ishant got the ball in the right areas,” Warner said. “And with the older ball he manages to get a bit of reverse swings and he can go both ways. He’s played a big role in these last three tests.”

Brad Haddin made just 13 before he was caught behind off Yadav and Mitchell Johnson (15) offered some aggressive strokes before being caught by Rahane off Mohammed Shami (1-75) for 15.

Earlier, Johnson claimed two quick wickets as India lasted just 15 balls and added only two runs to its overnight score to finish with 465 in its first innings.

Yadav was caught behind for a duck with the second ball of the morning and Smith took a regulation catch at second slip to dismiss Shami for 12.

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