With 10 minutes to go before close of play on Bangalore, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara completed a feat that was desperately missed by India in this series, so far. They got a partnership, which incidentally is the highest for either team in this series. It has been that kind of Test series. Gripping, unlucky for few, rewarding for others. Whenever a part of play seemed like going a team’s way, something would happen to change it.
But for once, Rahane and Pujara ensured that it did not effect India. Both shared an unbeaten 93-run stand for the fifth wicket to take India to 213 for the loss of four wickets at stumps on day three of the second Test in Bangalore. Playing the third innings, India have extended their lead to 126 runs after bowling out Australia for 276 in their first innings.
While Pujara was constant as a batsman at the crease, there were brief periods where the others chipped in, especially KL Rahul scored his second half-century of the match. Rahane was unbeaten on 40.
It was yet another collapse for India, though small, as they went from 84 for 1 to 120 for 4 before Pujara and Rahane made sure India did not lose a wicket in the final session, first time such a thing happened in this series.
Before this, Rahul scored 51 runs and was looking good for more before Steve Smith pull off an one-handed blinder at first slip to get rid of the Indian batsman. Smith, air-borne, dived to his right and parallel to the ground to hold on to the catch off Steve O’Keefe.
India began the innings 40 minutes before Lunch and survived the early spell of Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon to go to Lunch at 38 for no loss. Abhinav Mukund had shown some application before the break. But in the first over after the Lunch break, bowled by Josh Hazlewood, Mukund left a big gap between bat and pad to let the ball hit the stumps.
Rahul and Pujara then shared a 45-run stand for the second wicket, surviving some close calls and uneven bounce on the Bangalore pitch, before O’Keefe got Rahul.
Virat Kohli, who has had a disastrous series so far, hit a boundary in his 15-run stay before a controversial leg-before call saw him exit. The on-field umpire Nigel Llong gave him leg-before but Kohli reviewed it instantly. The ball hit the bat and pad at almost the same time and it was “inconclusive” for the third umpire to over-turn the decision.
Hazlewood then got the wicket of Ravindra Jadeja, promoted up the order disturb the line-length of the Australian bowlers with a right-left combination. Hazlewood got some movement in the air and off the pitch to get the ball through his defence.
Earlier, Australia resumed the day at 237 for the loss of six wickets with Matthew Wade and Starc as overnight batsmen. The four wickets could only add 49 runs in the total and the team was bowled out for 276.
Starc was first to go as he tried to slog R Ashwin over mid-wicket and but found the man in the deep, Jadeja, taking a good catch at the square-leg fence.
The next over after the catch, Jadeja trapped Wade in front of the stumps and a ball later, Lyon was also dismissed in similar fashion. Both batsmen reviewed the on-field decision but both got a negative.
Jadeja got his second six wicket haul in Test cricket when he had Hazlewood caught by Rahul at long-on. This was his second best performance in Test cricket, falling behind his effort against England in Chennai last year, where he took 7 for 48 runs.
With two days remaining in this match, India need to bat as long as possible as their lead is only 126 runs. Pujara will resume his innings at 79 while Rahane will come out to bat at 40 not out. The remaining batsmen for India are Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha, Ashwin, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.