It is advantage India. Even though Australia fought their way back in the post-lunch session when the home side collapsed from 400 for 3 to 503 all out, India were well in control by the end of the third day’s play in the second Test at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here. With an impressive crowd of 25,700 in attendance, India, who took 266-run first innings lead, strangled the Aussies, who were 74 for 2 at stumps.
The match continued to witness twists and turns on a pitch assisting the spinners for the third successive day. The Australians toiled hard on Sunday as they could capture only one wicket with Murali Vijay (167; 361b, 23x4, 2x6) and Cheteshwar Pujara (204; 341b, 30x4, 1x6) holding centre-stage for India. But the visitors had some smiles on their faces on Monday. Their spinners - Glenn Maxwell and Xavier Doherty - took seven wickets out of the nine that fell in the second session. But the sweep bait gobbled up David Warner and Phil Hughes in the second innings to leave Aussies fishing in troubled waters. The morning’s play centred around Vijay and Pujara. Vijay, who resumed at 129, reached his 150 with a push to mid-on off Peter Siddle. The duo raced past the record of Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar (344), which was the India’s best second-wicket partnership against West Indies at Kolkata in 1978.
Pujara, who revelled with his cut shots, became the second fastest Indian to reach 1,000 runs which came in 18 innings. Left-hander Vinod Kambli had done it in 14 innings while Gavaskar got it in 21 innings.
Vijay looked more adventurous as he slammed six more boundaries. Debutant off-spinner Maxwell broke the 423-minute long partnership when he had the opener snapped up at backward-short leg to give his maiden Test wicket. Vijay and Pujara added 370 runs. Waiting for 109.4 overs and the entire day on the second day with pads on, Sachin Tendulkar came out to a standing ovation. His arrival saw Pujara getting his double century as he on-drove Maxwell for his 30th four. But soon after the celebrations, Pujara’s long vigil ended when he hooked straight into fine-leg fielder’s hands off James Pattinson. The Aussies applauded Pujara and Pattinson ran all the way to congratulate him. Both Vijay and Pujara returned in a space of 18 deliveries. At lunch, India were comfortably placed at 400 for 3. Tendulkar hit his first boundary on resumption. However, in the second over after lunch, there was pin-drop silence as Tendulkar walked back to the pavilion after facing only 15 deliveries when he tickled Pattinson for a leg side catch to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade. Umpire Marias Erasmus did not raise his finger as he took third umpire S Ravi’s assistance on whether the catch was taken cleanly or not. The replays showed Wade had pouched the catch.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was on the look out for quick runs. He cover drove and cut left-arm spinner Doherty for three fours in one over. He hit five more boundaries before giving a catch to Doherty, who caught on his second attempt at mid-off to give Maxwell his second wicket. Dhoni raised 56 runs with Virat Kohli, the former’s contribution being 44 (off 43 balls). Maxwell took a brilliant return catch to send back left-hander Ravindra Jadeja but there was huge sigh of relief for Doherty, who has come in for criticism in the Australian media, when he bagged his first wicket. After bowling 42.2 overs the left-arm spinner got one to turn and had Ravichandran Ashwin napping and was caught at gully. Doherty was to celebrate more by taking the wickets of Harbhajan Singh and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to end the Indian innings.
Trailing by more than 200 runs, Australia saw left-hander Warner dismissed in the 20th over. Ashwin, who was bowling round the wicket, changed his angle and bowled Warner with the left-hander missing a sweep shot. Four overs later, Phil Hughes fell to the same sweep shot off Ashwin, with the ball hitting his glove before the ball rolled on to the stumps.