NEW DELHI: After leading Australia to a famous Test win in India on Friday, Steve Smith said his captaincy “time is done”. Smith led the side in the absence of Pat Cummins who went back home after the second Test to take care of his mother who is unwell.
Australia cruised to a nine-wicket win in Indore on a pitch that offered vicious spin and low bounce, with Nathan Lyon wreaking havoc in India’s second innings.
“My time is done. It’s Pat’s team now,” said the 33-year-old.
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<p>Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne held their nerve on a viciously turning Indore pitch to guide Australia to a nine-wicket victory. <br /></p>
<p>Indore Test win is only Australia’s second Test victory in India since 2004.<br /></p>
<p>After Australia were thrashed in the first two Tests inside three days, the series now stands at 2-1 to the hosts with one match remaining.<br /></p>
<p>Labuschagne finished on 28 not out and Head on 49, having lost opener Usman Khawaja to only the second ball of the day.<br /></p>
<p>The dogged victory secured Australia a berth in the ICC World Test Championship final in June at The Oval. <br /></p>
<p>India will be sure of their place in the final if they win the fourth Test in Ahmedabad.<br /></p>
<p>In a low-scoring and frenetic encounter, Australia skittled India for 109 on day one with spinner Matthew Kuhnemann claiming five wickets.<br /></p>
<p>In reply Australia made a solid start before collapsing to 197 all out before lunch on day two, their last six wickets tumbling for just 11 runs.<br /></p>
<p>Eight wickets for spinner Nathan Lyon saw India bundled out for 163 in their second innings, setting up a victory target of 76.<br /></p>
<p>Chasing 76, Australia lost Usman Khawaja early. Khawaja edged R Ashwin to keeper Srikar Bharat for a duck.<br /></p>
<p>After 45 minutes, Labuschagne and Head changed gears. Head launched Ashwin for a six over mid-on and the next over drilled Ravindra Jadeja down the ground for a four as the shackles came off.<br /></p>
<p>Labuschagne too got in the act, hitting Jadeja for a four and dismissing a short Ashwin delivery on a half-volley for four more to bring a rare Australia win in India in view.<br /></p>
Smith, who was stripped of the captaincy and handed a year-long ban over a 2018 ball-tampering incident, said he still relishes making the big calls.
“Look, India is a part of the world I love captaining,” Smith said.
“It’s a game of chess, every ball means something. It’s good to just move people and trying to make the batter do something different and just play games with them.
“It’s probably my favourite place in the world to captain.”
Australia are trailing the four-match series 1-2. They lost the opening Test by an innings and 132 runs in Nagpur and then suffered a six-wicket loss in Delhi.
3rd Test: How Nathan Lyon tore the heart out of Indian batting line-up
<p>Not for the first time, Nathan Lyon tore the heart out of the Indian batting line-up earning his second-best Test figures in the process. </p>
<p>Lyon took 8/64 in India’s second innings to turn the match on its head on Day 2.</p>
<p>The tumultuous Test match fell on Lyon’s well-weathered fingers to bail Australia out. </p>
<p>Lyon found that perfect length for the pitch, bowled attacking lines and bagged the wicket if one slightly turned or went with the arm. </p>
<p>The perfect example on Day Two of the Indore Test was the dismissal of India’s wicketkeeper KS Bharat. </p>
<p>The ball ripped one straight through the batter’s defences by getting him to play the wrong line while thinking about possible turn. </p>
<p>Lyon bowled around the stumps, again relentlessly, for a majority of his spell, and let helpful pitches like the one at the Holkar Stadium do the rest.</p>
<p>Lyon’s bowling is a perfect reflection of the fact that he doesn’t quite fit the ‘flashy genius’ mould of some past Aussie spinning greats. </p>
<p>Lyon found in Smith an old and able ally as a pro-active captain who kept things interesting with restrictive fields and men in catching positions to slowly strangle India. </p>
<p>Lyon’s deeds in the sub-continent speak for themselves and in essence, the off-spinner is all about persistence. </p>
“We screwed up I suppose in Delhi is one way to put it,” said Smith.
“We had an opportunity there and let that slip, but we had a good break and a good preparation coming here and it was just about getting our mental states right.”
Friday’s victory was only Australia’s second Test win in India since 2004 and means they will play in the ICC World Test Championship final in June at The Oval.
“It is very satisfying, I thought it was a great team performance all the way from day one,” said Smith.
(With inputs from AFP)