Cheteshwar Pujara’s unbeaten 79 and his 93-run stand with Ajinkya Rahane (40), backed up by KL Rahul’s third fifty of the series helped India fight back superbly in the third Test against Australia after the big setback of skipper Virat Kohli’s fourth cheap dismissal in a row. (DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS)
Rahul made 51 to follow up on his first-innings 90 but Australia pacer Josh Hazlewood struck three quick blows to leave the hosts in danger of another batting collapse.(SCORECARD)
However, Pujara dug in and the 93-run stand with Rahane became the highest stand in the series as India reached 213 for four at stumps, not losing a wicket for the entire evening session at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.LIVE STREAMING)
India touched the 200-run mark for the first time in the series, and in four innings. It gave them a crucial lead of 126 runs, which had looked unlikely after Rahul, Virat Kohli (15) and Ravindra Jadeja (2), promoted to No 5, all fell in quick succession.
Left-arm spinner Jadeja, earlier, led India’s bowling fightback in the morning, grabbing his second best career figures of 6/63 by running through the Australian tail. He claimed the last three wickets in the space of 10 deliveries.
Australia were 276 all out midway through the session as India restricted their first innings lead to 87 runs, their bowlers completing the job after giving away little in an intense second day’s play.
The Big turnaround
Pujara initially struggled against Nathan Lyon, the Aussie off-spinner who captured eight for 50 to dismiss India for 189 in their first innings. However, with Rahul again looking untroubled and rotating the strike at the other end, Pujara settled down.
Pujara was dropped by skipper Steven Smith at slip off Lyon, and he continued to have a close shave many times as the off-spinner got some off the deliveries to bounce a bit more. The batsman was also beaten by turn on several occasions.
However, the confidence grew as the partnership progressed with Rahane, criticised for his weakness against spin on Indian pitches, settling down to give Pujara company.
Virat Kohli departs cheaply
The remarkable fightback didn’t look like it would materialise after Hazlewood reduced them to 120 for four. The major talking point again was the cheap dismissal of skipper Virat Kohli.
Kohli, out for 0 and 13 in the first Test in Pune, which India lost by 333 runs in three days, and for 12 in the first innings, was beaten by a Hazlewood delivery that kept low and was given out leg before.
Kohli, under pressure in this series and with his team in trouble, straightaway reviewed it. Several replays didn’t confirm whether he had got a bottom edge on to pad, which meant it was left to the umpire to stick with his original decision.
His promotion of Jadaja (2) to No 5 to get a left-right combination in the middle didn’t last much as the all-rounder was bowled by Hazlewood, but Rahane joined Pujara to bring the Aussies under pressure for the first time in the series.