4th Test: Marcus Harris fifty drives Australia to 122/1 at lunch on day three
Marcus Harris channeled David Warner in attacking India's spinners. © AFP

Facing a mountain to scale, Marcus Harris took up the challenge and moved step by step to lay the foundations for a big inning as Australia claimed the morning session at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday. Harris dominated an opening stand of 72 with Usman Khawaja, reached his second Test fifty in quick time and in the company of Marnus Labuschagne added 50 to take Australia to 122/1 by lunch on day three.

The hosts still trail India by the small matter of 500 runs, but in losing only one wicket in the session they have made good progress. (LIVE UPDATES: INDIA vs AUSTRALIA, DAY THREE)

Channelling the man he resembles when batting, David Warner, Harris did not let the bowlers stifle him. He had a close shout when he lofted Ravindra Jadeja to mid-on where KL Rahul leaped to his right to attempt the catch, but the fielder immediately signalled not out as soon as he rose. That brief heart-in-mouth moment out of the way, Harris set about constructing a busy half-century.

Mohammed Shami was hit out of the attack with two fours in one over, then Harris used his feet to crash Jadeja through the covers. He rotated strike cleverly too, an attempt to try and make the bowlers keep changing their lines. With Khawaja helping set the tone by skipping out to Jadeja over mid-off and reverse-sweep with authority, Australia scored 31 runs between the 15th and 19th overs.

Khawaja, who was let off by Rishabh Pant when zero on Friday evening, briefly showed signs of emerging from his stupor but fell for 27 when trying to dominate Kuldeep Yadav, offering a catch to midwicket.

Harris’ approach to the spinners was upbeat as he collected his fifty off 67 balls. He grew increasingly confident, hammering Kuldeep over mid-on twice in an an over, with a coruscating flat-batted pull sandwiched between those confident shimmies. Shami came back and found a hint of reverse but Harris played him with ease, coolly whipping off the toes or playing with a straight bat. He has now faced over 100 deliveries for the second time in Tests, testament to his powers of crease occupation.

Labuschagne, given a big opportunity at No 3, nailed a confident drive through extra cover for four off Kuldeep and to the spinner used his reach well. He repeatedly swept Kuldeep with power, which kept Hanuma Vihari at short leg constantly wary.

Lunch: Australia 122/1 (Harris 77*) trail India 622/7 declared by 500 runs