A cover-drive for four. Cheteshwar Pujara drove a full delivery from Pat Cummins between mid-off and cover fielder to bring up his 11th Test century and also the first for an Indian batsman in this series. By the end of the day’s play in Ranchi, Pujara was still standing his ground, adding 30 more runs to his hundred.
But the day was not only Pujara’s. Cummins, making a return to Test cricket after a gap of five years and four months, picked up three wickets on the third day of the third Test. He had dismissed KL Rahul on the second day itself. At stumps, India were 360 for the loss of six wickets, still trailing Australia by 91 runs in the first innings.
Apart from Pujara’s heroic innings, there was little to celebrate about Indian batting. Wriddhiman Saha was the other unbeaten batsman for India on 18. Both teams had their chances to dominate the Test match but could not capatalise on crucial moments. Australia, though, will still be happy to be in lead.
India were at one stage 193 for the loss of one wicket with Murali Vijay batting on 82. But in the last over before Lunch, Vijay came down the pitch to Steve O’Keefe and missed the delivery completely. Matthew Wade completed a smart stumping which saw the end of Vijay and 193-run stand between Pujara and him for the second wicket. Vijay had survived a close bat-pad catch while batting on 58. An inside-edge went undetected and Australia could not challenge the on-field decision of not-out having exhausted their reviews.
Virat Kohli, who had injured his shoulder while fielding, came out to bat at number four after Lunch but his innings was only 23 balls long. Cummins, operating with the second new ball, dismissed Kohli for six. Later, he a had Ajinkya Rahane caught behind after the Indian vice-captain played an ugly ramp shot.
The three wickets in the second session reduced India to 303 for the loss of four wickets and overshadowed a 109-run innings from Pujara, who 15 boundaries in his knock.
Karun Nair was moving into his stride slowly and made 23 runs before Josh Hazlewood got one through his defence and removed his off-stump.
Cummins made it four wickets in the innings when he had R Ashwin caught behind with another short ball, something he used to great effect. The on-field umpire had given not-out after Australia appealed but Steve Smith immediately asked for review. The UltraEdge showed a little spike as the ball passed the gloves. Ashwin was not happy with the decision and insisted that he did not hit the ball.
But Saha and Pujara did not give Australia any more success and took India closer to Australia first innings total of 451.