India start in strong fashion
At close on the second day of the third Test here at the JSCA stadium on Friday, India had reached 120 for one after Rahul (67, 102b, 9x4) and Vijay (42 batting) posted only their second half-century partnership (91 off 188 balls) in the 12 innings they have batted together so far.
This is in fact their highest partnership ever since they came together for the first time in the Sydney Test in 2015, bettering their previous best of 52 runs in the second innings of the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur last year.
Rahul’s dismissal for another half-century (his fourth of the series) did dim India’s bright start but Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara (10 batting) saw off the day without much damage, setting the prospect of an interesting middle day on Saturday. Good news for India was that their skipper Virat Kohli could buy some more time to recuperate from his shoulder injury sustained on the opening day.
On a pitch that is still conducive for batting, India still trail Australia by 331 runs after the tourists registered 451 all out in 137.3 overs, having resumed from their overnight score of 299 for four.
Ravindra Jadeja (5/124) claimed three wickets on the day to go with his two on the opening day for his eighth five-wicket haul but the left-arm spinner bowled nearly 50 overs for his returns.
Skipper Steve Smith batted all but 46 minutes of Australia’s innings that lasted for 558 minutes. The right-hander, who had ended on an unbeaten 117 on Thursday, remained unconquered on 178 (512m, 361b, 17x4), the fifth highest individual score by a visiting captain in India.
As well as Smith batted, betraying few signs of a man under the eye of storm, it was once again Glenn Maxwell (104, 9x4, 2x6) who stole the show with a maiden Test hundred.
The tight, long hug to Smith and an ear-to-ear grin that appeared for eternity indicated how much this knock meant to him.
With this innings, Maxwell became only the 11th player in the world and only the second Aussie after Shane Watson to have scored a hundred in all three formats.
Maxwell faced 185 balls and spent 245 minutes in this alone compared to 129 deliveries and 114 minutes for his 80 runs in his previous six Test match innings.
For India to put Australia under pressure, they needed to break the Smith-Maxwell partnership, which stood at 159 runs the previous night. However, a few loose deliveries up front prolonged their stay. The duo added 40 more runs to their overnight stand to deny India any early success. With the surface offering not much assistance Indian bowlers appeared to wait for things to happen rather than force them.
Smith and Maxwell were associated in a stand of 191 — the highest fifth-wicket partnership by an Australian pair against India in India. Only Jadeja, who purchased some turn, looked like getting wickets which he did but not before Australia had gathered enough on the board. There was not much reverse swing in play either for the pacers and Umesh Yadav (3/106) toiled hard for his lone wicket on the day.
R Ashwin and Ishant Sharma, however, failed to make any impact as Smith forged useful partnerships down the order with Matthew Wade (37) and Steve O’Keefe (25) to push Australia’s total past 450.
This is the eighth time that Australia have amassed a 400-plus first-innings total in India; an impressive record in itself. But the flip side of it is that they have won on only one occasion while losing four times after doing so well with the bat. India will be hoping the nature of the pitch doesn’t drastically change, which can happen in this part of the world, over the course of their batting on Saturday.
DH News Service
AUSTRALIA (I Innings; O/n: 299/4):
Smith (not out) 178
(512m, 361b, 17x4)
Maxwell c Saha b Jadeja 104
(245m, 185b, 9x4, 2x6)
Wade c Saha b Jadeja 37
(58m, 50b, 6x4)
Cummins b Jadeja 0
O’Keefe c Vijay b Umesh 25
(59m, 71b, 5x4)
Lyon c Nair b Jadeja 1
Hazlewood (run out) 0
Extras (B-9, LB-11, NB-2) 22
Total (all out, 137.3 overs) 451
Fall of wickets: 5-331 (Maxwell), 6-395 (Wade), 7-395 (Cummins), 8-446 (O’Keefe), 9-449 (Lyon).
Bowling: Ishant 20-2-70-0 (nb-2), Umesh 31-3-106-3, Ashwin 34-2-114-1, Jadeja 49.3-8-124-5, Vijay 3-0-17-0.
INDIA (I Innings):
Rahul c Wade b Cummins 67
(125m, 102b, 9x4)
Vijay (batting) 42
(164m, 112b, 6x4)
Pujara (batting) 10
(38m, 10b, 1x4)
Extras (B-1) 1
Total (for 1 wkt, 40 overs) 120
Fall of wickets: 1-91 (Rahul).
Bowling: Hazlewood 9-2-25-0, Cummins 10-1-22-1, O’Keefe 10-3-30-0, Lyon 11-0-42-0.
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