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Labuschagne, Smith steer Australia to ominous lead over India

They came to the crease after Will Pucovski and David Warner fell early, pushing them to 103 for two at stumps and a strong position with the four-Test series locked at 1-1.

Australia padded up again after taking eight wickets on day three to dismiss India for 244 in reply to the hosts' 338. Picture: Twitter.

SYDNEY - First innings heroes Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith steered Australia to an commanding 197-run lead in the high-stakes third Test Saturday, leaving an injury-hit India with a mountain to climb.

They came to the crease after Will Pucovski and David Warner fell early, pushing them to 103 for two at stumps and a strong position with the four-Test series locked at 1-1.

Labuschagne, who scored 91 in the first innings, was not out on 47 and Smith, who blitzed 131 in his first knock, unbeaten on 29.

Australia padded up again after taking eight wickets on day three to dismiss India for 244 in reply to the hosts' 338.

"I woke up today hoping that by the close of play we still wouldn't be bowling and to have a lead of near 200, a great day," said Australian pace spearhead Pat Cummins, who took 4-29.

"I think we need (to bat) for at least a session-and-a half, two sessions tomorrow and then have a good crack at them."

India's Cheteshwar Pujara, who made a patient 50, said early wickets would be crucial for his team on Sunday.

"We need to pick up a couple of early wickets tomorrow morning and not allow them free runs in the first session," he said.

India's task was made harder by the absence of key spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who was sent for scans after a hit to the thumb while batting. Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant joined him in the clinic after a nasty blow to the elbow.

It piled more misery on India, who were already without injured bowlers Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma and batsman KL Rahul, while skipper Virat Kohli is on paternity leave.

Despite this, Mohammed Siraj stepped up to remove Pucovski for 10, caught by substitute keeper Wriddhiman Saha.

Ravi Ashwin then took the prized scalp of David Warner for 13, his ninth career dismissal of the opener, trapping him lbw.

But the disciplined Labuschagne and Smith steadied the ship, building a threatening 68-run partnership that is slowly taking the game away from India.

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