Unflinching openers lift spirits

The opposition has scored a 400-plus total. The wicket is showing the first signs of the odd ball keeping low.

Published: 18th March 2017 03:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th March 2017 03:57 AM   |  A+A-

The challenging Australian total didn't bother opener Murali Vijay, who was in his elements during an unbeaten 42, on the second day of the third Test in Ranchi | BCCI

Express News Service

RANCHI: The opposition has scored a 400-plus total. The wicket is showing the first signs of the odd ball keeping low. Pacers are bringing reverse-swing into equation, there are cutters to be negotiated with a packed leg-side field, apart from the odd short-ball they send every now and then to surprise the batsman. There are spinners, who are capable of exploiting conditions like the way their Indian counterparts have been doing. These are the challenges that Indian batsmen have frequently encountered in the long international season at home, where the pitches have been on the flatter side for the most part of it.

Against England, they came across situations like this in almost every other Test. In Rajkot, after the visitors posted 537, India responded with 488 with centuries from Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara. In Mumbai, Vijay, Virat Kohli and Jayant Yadav responded in a grand manner to post 631, in reply to England’s 400. In Chennai, Rahul and Karun Nair took India to an innings win with a record total, despite Alastair Cook & Co posting 477.

And here in Ranchi, they are up against it once again. Australia’s total of 451 is still 331 runs away, and there will be no easy runs, but India can draw inspiration from what they did against England. It is anybody’s guess as to how the pitch will behave on Day 3, but India had a big job on hand on Day 2, particularly with uncertainty surrounding Kohli's availability.

Vijay and Rahul faced eight overs before tea was called and they were content enough to end the session with all the wickets intact. Post tea, they showed a lot more intent but were cautious enough not to do anything silly, particularly with runs there for the taking if they batted patiently. Rahul, was the more expressive of the two, and never let the scoreboard stand still. If Rahul kept finding boundaries whenever opportunities presented themselves, Vijay was in his usual Monk mood. Some batsmen like to get their first boundary as early as possible, as it relaxes them, but not Vijay. He barely looks bothered about those and here, playing his 50th Test, he got his first boundary only off the 52nd ball he faced.

Rahul, who has already scored four fifties in the last two Tests, got one here too and if not for a brute of a delivery from Pat Cummins, he might have gone to bed unbeaten. Vijay changed gears once Rahul departed to relax the new-man Pujara with whom he has added 2458 runs together at an average of 68.27. They have eight century stands between them, which makes them the most prolific pair in this side.

And India would like these two to continue to do that on Saturday. "On this wicket, it is very difficult to stop singles. They have taken four and a half sessions to get 450, so on an average, 100 runs per session. We also made 120 in one session.The singles will keep coming. The outfield is so quick that once it is in the gap, it will go to the boundary. 450 is there and thereabouts, and we will try to get to that total," Umesh Yadav said.


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