Pujara keeps Australia at bay
By Krunal Gandhi, MyCricketHighlights Cricket Writer
3rd Test: India vs Australia at JSCA International Stadium Complex, Ranchi, Mar 16 - Mar 20, 2017, Cricket Highlights
Day 3 is often considered to be a moving day in any Test match. Well, not in this one. Nevertheless, it was another gritty day of Test match cricket, with two stand-out performances from either side. While Cheteshwar Pujara played a good old-fashioned Test knock and glued the Indian innings together, it was Pat Cummins, who bowled with sheer pace and picked up 4 out of the 6 wickets for Australia.
The one great news for India, before the start of the play, was that Kohli was declared fit to bat and was all padded up. However, he was not required to come out to bat in the first session, as Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara stitched another 100-run partnership between them and took India’s total close to 200. It was the 6th-century partnership between the pair in this home season and considering that it came against a fiery Australian bowling attack, this one ranks right up there among their very best alliances.
Murali Vijay, who had battled it out in the middle and played a valiant knock of 82 runs, threw it away in the last over before Lunch as he played a rash shot to get himself stumped.
The afternoon session was shared by both the teams with India scoring over 100 runs and at the same time, losing two important wickets, that of Kohli and Rahane. Both the wickets were picked up by none other than Pat Cummins. The Indian captain, once again, failed to contribute with the bat as he got out in a similar manner to Pune and was dismissed for 6.
While his compatriots found it difficult to score the runs, Pujara, on the other hand, made run-scoring look like a child’s play. If he scored a mere 28 runs in his first 120 balls, he considerably improved on his strike-rate and made 77 runs in the next 100 balls. It was an excellent knock from the Rajkot batsman, who brought up his hundred with a stylish boundary on the off-side. This was Pujara’s 11th Test ton and his fourth one in this home season. In a true manner, he is India’s run-machine!
At the Tea time, the game nicely hung in balance with India reaching 303 for the loss of 4 wickets. Pujara was going strong at 109 and had Karun Nair in his company, who was batting on 13.
Hazlewood and Lyon started the proceedings in the final session, with the former getting rid of Nair with a delivery that jacked back in the right-hander and uprooting his off-stump. Throughout the day, the Aussies had bowled terrific line & length and kept the Indian batsmen on their toes.
To everyone’s surprise, just after picking up the wicket, Hazlewood was taken out of the attack and was replaced by Pat Cummins. The speedster was Australia’s pick of the bowler and with the new batsman in, Steven Smith sensed an opportunity to get another wicket. Cummins didn’t disappoint his skipper as he picked up his fourth wicket by getting Ashwin out in a similar fashion to KL Rahul. It was a snorter from the pacer, which brushed the gloves of Ashwin on the way through to the wicket-keeper.
The wickets falling at the other end didn’t deter Pujara’s concentration, as he continued his gritty knock and played smartly according to the situation. As Steve O’Keefe opted to bowl a negative line (outside the leg-stump), Pujara was keener in defending the ball, rather than playing any fancy shots. To his liking, he found another partner, in Saha, who has, thus far, batted well and gave fitting company to Pujara.
Only 57 runs were scored in that final session, but to India’s advantage, they didn’t lose any more wickets and have also reduced the deficit down to 91 runs. They will need some useful contributions from the lower-order to get past Australia’s total and if possible, get a handy first-innings lead. From the visitor’s point of view, they will try to pick up the remaining 4 wickets as soon as possible.