Finally, batsmen take lead of faith

Test tantalisingly poised as Jadeja’s strikes & dogged batting display put India 126 ahead with six wickets in hand.

Published: 07th March 2017 03:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th March 2017 03:12 AM   |  A+A-

Ravindra Jadeja celebrates the wicket of Matthew Wade in Bengaluru on Monday | JITHENDRA M

Express News Service

BENGALURU :  Cheteshwar Pujara, after the end of the second day’s play on Sunday, said the team had discu­s­sed how their batting should be on Day 3. He had also said th­ey were looking to not give aw­ay mo­re than 40 runs on Monday. But many felt it was easier said th­­an done.

After all, Australia ha­d beaten India comprehensively in the first Test and seemed to be in total control of the second he­re. 

But after restricting Australia to 276 in the first innings and conceding an 87-run lead, India sta­ged a turnaround of sorts, reaching 213 for four in 72 overs on Day 3, holding a lead of 126 runs. Pujara and Anjinkya Rahane were batting on 79 and 40 respectively. Earlier in the day, spinner Ravindra Jadeja’s six for 63 helped India rein in Australia.

Virat Kohli’s dismissal was one of the talking points
on Monday | JITHENDRA M

Suddenly, Australia were the team doing the hard thinking. India had showed that true class cannot be subdued for very long, no matter who the opposition are or how badly they are down.

Never had the Indian batsmen looked so comfortable in this series. This is the way we have always known them to be. Pujara and Rahane put up an unbeaten partnership of 93 runs for the fifth wicket and this could possibly change the outcome of the match. Had Australian captain Steve Smith not dropped Pujara on four though, it could very well have been a different story.

Pujara and Rahane went for their shots regularly instead of just trying to keep their wickets intact. They rotated the strike, not allowing the bowlers to target either one of them. For all the damage Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon had inflicted previously, Monday was a disappointment for them. For once, the Australian bowlers looked barren and clueless.

India batting coach Sanjay Bangar said: “We have fought really well after the setback of not scoring runs in the first innings. We clawed our way back, the team has stuck together and not let the game drift away from us. Coming back from the second session, we didn’t lose any wickets and consolidated the third session.

“At the moment, the match is in very much in balance. What lies ahead could be exhilarating stuff. If we put up a good show in the next two sessions, we will have our nose slightly ahead.”

Due credit to opening batsman KL Rahul too for his 85-ball 51. His small partnerships with opener Abhinav Mukund (39) and then with Pujara (45) for the second wicket probably set the tone for India’s second innings. He has been in fine nick in the series.

Later, Australia bowler Josh Hazlewood said: “It feels pretty level at the moment. They fought back really well in that last session and credit to the two guys out there. They stuck to their plans, fought hard and scratched away for quite a bit of runs. So, I think it’s pretty level.”

He had more words of praise for the batsmen. “Pujara was more intent. They scored at about three runs an over which is an increase from their last couple of innings. They scored off the looser deliveries and kept rotating the strike. That is the key here.

They weren’t getting stuck on one end for an extended period of time. I think those guys did that pretty well,” he added.


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