Indore, March 2 (IANS) Top-order batter Cheteshwar Pujara stood tall with his 36 not out as India trail Australia by nine runs at Tea on day two of third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the Holkar Stadium, here on Thursday.
It was a session where India lost four wickets, but with Pujara looking impressive at the crease and negotiating turn plus bounce. He holds the key for the hosts’ to take a lead in the final session.
The afternoon session began with off-spinner Nathan Lyon striking in the very first over, as Shubman Gill danced down the pitch for an expansive slog. But the right-handed opener missed the delivery as it turned to go through the gate and smash the stumps.
Cheteshwar Pujara took his time to get going and got his first boundary by driving an overpitched delivery from Lyon through cover. But the off-spinner struck again in his next over to trap Rohit Sharma right in the crease for lbw, with the Indian skipper burning a review too.
With Australia rotating their troika of spinners, Pujara and Virat Kohli tried to keep them at bay with defence and getting some boundaries. But Matthew Kuhnemann took out Kohli, shaping for a pull, with a short ball which stayed low and hit him right on the back pad in front of stumps.
With a lower backlift, Pujara was able to breeze through, smashing a short ball from Kuhnemann in the gap between mid-on and mid-wicket for a boundary, followed by dancing down the pitch to drive past non-striker for another boundary.
Ravindra Jadeja got singles quickly with Lyon and Todd Murphy operating in tandem. But before he could get going, Lyon trapped him lbw below the knee roll and Australia saw his back through a review. By the time tea came, Pujara and Shreyas Iyer ensured India didn’t suffer any more loss of wickets.
Earlier, Australia took a vital lead of 88 runs as Umesh Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin took 3/12 and 3/44 respectively in the first session to bowl out the visitors for 197.
While Umesh was efficient with his exhibition of reverse swing and reached 100 Test wickets at home, Ashwin was able to extract turn, and use it with flight to trigger an Australian batting meltdown, as they lost their last six wickets for just 11 runs in 28 balls.
Brief Scores: Australia 197 in 76.3 overs (Usman Khawaja 60, Marnus Labuschagne 21; Ravindra Jadeja 4/78, Umesh Yadav 3/12) lead India 109 in 33.3 overs and 79/4 in 32 overs (Cheteshwar Pujara 36 not out; Nathan Lyon 3/27) by nine runs