Cheteshwar Pujara compiled an industrious unbeaten century to keep India on course to match Australia’s first innings total of 451 in the third Test on Saturday.
Australia pacer Pat Cummins made a successful return to Test cricket after five years in the wilderness, oozing hostility and claiming 4-59 on a placid track to help restrict the hosts to 360-6 on day three of the contest.
Pujara was batting on 130 at stumps, the first century by an Indian batsman in the four-Test series, having spent nearly seven hours at the crease to consolidate his team’s position in the contest. Wriddhiman Saha was giving him company on 18 with India still 91 runs behind.
A steady accumulator of runs in an Indian line-up of mostly flamboyant stroke-makers, Pujara’s solid defence stood him in great stead as his 11th test century underlined the virtue of playing along the turf, minimising risks.
The 29-year-old hit 17 boundaries in his composed knock, often threading the ball through gaps and letting the exceptionally fast outfield carry it across the rope.
Earlier, India captain Virat Kohli came out to bat after staying away from the action for almost 140 overs due to a shoulder strain while fielding. His stay, however, was brief. In the first over of the second new ball, Pat Cummins tried to tempt Kohli with a wide delivery. Like in Pune --- against Mitchell Starc though --- Kohli again went for a drive without any feet movement and only got an edge that was held well by Steve Smith at second slip.
Rahane arrived eager to get on with the game with Pujara. The new ball and a fast outfield helped here. Having adjusted to a pitch that was on the slower side but was still brilliant for batting, Pujara started taking on the bowlers.
He flicked a full toss from Cummins through midwicket for a boundary before two more in his next over --- a fine glance almost off his ribs followed by a punch through point. Rahane too looked busy during his 33-ball stay and even hit two convincing boundaries, driving Nathan Lyon through extra-cover before pulling Josh Hazlewood.
Cummins however looked to bother Rahane often with his short of length deliveries. Rahane was nearly played on in the 88th over but Cummins finally cleaned him up with a sharp bouncer that he tried to ramp over the wicketkeeper but only got an edge. It was a premature end to what was looking to be a promising 51-run partnership. But with Pujara still going strong after reaching his hundred, India could hope for a few more partnerships that could get them close to Australia’s first innings.
Earlier, Australia had snared the vital wicket of Murali Vijay on the cusp of lunch to spoil a good session for India where the hosts added only 73 runs to their overnight score of 120/1.
Source: Hindustan Times