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Josh Hazlewood took three wickets before tea on the third day to help Australia reduce India to 120 for four IANS

By Sudipto Ganguly

Bengaluru: Aiming at the stumps should be the way forward for Australia‘s quicks against India to take advantage of the uneven bounce on the M Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch, fast bowler Josh Hazlewood said on Monday. Hazlewood, 26, took three wickets before tea on the third day to help Australia reduce India to 120 for four and the touring side looked favourites to take a 2-0 lead in the four-match series. But Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 93 to keep alive India’s hopes of a series-levelling win, giving the hosts a lead of 126 at the close. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Bengaluru

“The quicks were still too wide,” Hazlewood told reporters. “With the odd ball shooting through with that up and down bounce, we could be more straighter. There’s not much swing, and not much reverse swing either. So the plans are pretty simple, but sometimes they are hard to execute. You’ve got to bowl stump to stump. With that up and down movement with the cracks and uneven surface, just brings the lbw more into play. That’s probably where the wickets are for the quicks for the rest of the game.” FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Bengaluru

All Hazlewood’s wickets on Monday came when he attacked the stumps. Abhinav Mukund and Ravindra Jadeja were bowled and India captain Virat Kohli was dismissed lbw. Pujara and Rahane survived nervous moments at the start of their innings but grew in confidence as they batted through the final session. IND vs AUS: Do not comment on Kohli for one or two failures, says Bangar

“I think he [Pujara] was more intent. Obviously, they scored about three runs an over which is an increase since their last couple of innings,” said Hazlewood. “They were more intent at the crease, scoring off those looser deliveries and I think they kept rotating the strike, which is the key here. They weren’t getting stuck on one end for extended period of time. I think those guys did that pretty well.”

On-field sledging was a raging topic before the four-test series between the world’s top two test sides with both India and Australia led by demonstrative captains in Kohli and Steve Smith. There were a number of verbal confrontations on the field while Smith was batting on Sunday with the umpires having to intervene to calm both sides down. “Temperatures are rising a little bit – yesterday and today,” Hazlewood said. “It’s pretty intense out there. But we are trying to stick to just playing on skills and be calm out there.”