Pujara slams century, India 303/4 at tea on Day 3

18-03-2017
DH

 


Cheteshwar Pujara slammed the first century by an Indian batsman in the ongoing series as the hosts reached 303 for 4 in their first innings at tea on the third day of third cricket Test against Australia here today.

29-year-old Pujara struck his 11th ton in his 47th Test and he was going strong on 109 off 232 balls with the help of 15 boundaries when tea was taken. Karun Nair was giving him company on 13 from 21 balls.

Captain Virat Kohli, however, failed to deliver once again as he was out for 6 in post-lunch session today. Kohli, who went off the field on the first day due to an injury and did not field the whole of second day yesterday, had scored 0, 13, 12, 15 in the four innings of the earlier two Tests.

India still trail Australia by 148 runs with six first innings wickets in hand. Australia had made 451. Overnight 10 after India resumed on 120 for 1, Pujara soaked the pressure and built his innings beautifully. A classical cover drive against Pat Cummins brought up his hundred from 214 balls.

Returning to action after a freak shoulder injury on day one, Kohli (6 from 23 balls) had a testing 37-minute vigil at the crease before being dismissed in a soft manner by Cummins immediately after the new ball was taken in the 81st over.

Cummins prised out key wickets of Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane (14) en route to his 3/49 as Indians threw their wickets cheaply on a flat track of JSCA International Stadium Complex hosting its maiden Test.

Kohli never looked his usual self and took his time in an uncharacteristic slow innings as Australian spinners bowled in tandem to the Indian skipper. Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe attacked Kohli on the roughs outside the leg hoping to get a leading edge.

Australia took the second new ball immediately after 80 overs and Cummins earned them the most prized wicket of Kohli. Yet to get into his rhythm, Kohli went for an expansive drive outside the off-stump as the ball flew to second slip where Steve Smith held on to the catch at shoulder height and the Australian camp jumped in joy.

Rahane looked to give Pujara a perfect support as the duo completed a third 50-plus partnership of the match. But immediately after that Rahane lost his patience and tried for an uppercut to nick one to the wicketkeeper.

Pujara, however, remained unperturbed and showing patience and discipline, he went on to notch up his second hundred against the Australians and first one by an Indian in this ongoing series.

He made clever use of his feet against the spinners and never allowed them to settle down on a wicket that aided some turn while he was extremely choosy against the likes of Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Pujara brought up his fifty off 155 balls with two exquisite boundaries on both sides of the wicket -- a flick off the wrist and then stepped out to drive O’Keefe.

First, he put on 102 runs for the second wicket with Murali Vijay (82 from 183 balls; 10x4, 1x6) as the duo almost saw through the first session before the opener was stumped by O’Keefe at the stroke of lunch.

The century-plus partnership with Vijay was their sixth in 10 Tests this home season as they built a solid platform before Australia finally got the first breakthrough.

Pujara, however, looked rock solid barring some anxious moments early on. He survived while on 22 as he tried to play a forward defence only to be trapped in front. Australia went for their second and last remaining review but it was turned down by umpire Chris Gaffaney.

Luckily for Pujara, he had some inside edge though replays did not confirm whether it was bat or pad first, and he survived. The Australians thus ran out of the two reviews permitted in 80 overs.

In the very next ball, Vijay, on 58, had a clear inside edge which was taken at short leg, but umpire Ian Gould appeared to have overlooked it. Having exhausted their two DRS quota, Australia could not ask for another.

Australia had their first unsuccessful review in the 39th over when their call for bat-pad against Vijay was turned down yesterday.

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