Day 3 of the second Test between India and Australia in Bengaluru witnessed the first session in the series where a single wicket did not fall. Cheteshwar Pujara, who was dropped on 4 by Steve Smith, made Australia pay for the mistake by scoring a fifty and featuring in an unbeaten 93-run stand with Ajinkya Rahane. This propelled India’s lead to 126 at stumps with India at 213 for 4.
As India reach 200 for the first time this series, it is the unbroken partnership between Pujara and Rahane which is now slowly proving to be the decisive factor in the ongoing Test. Their partnership of 93 of 203 balls is the highest stand of the series so far for either team (going past 82 by Renshaw and Warner for the 1st wicket in 1st innings in Pune).
Speaking of the Pune Test match, partnerships were just not happening for India as wickets fell in regular intervals. Infact India could forge only one 50 run-stand in that Test (between KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane). It seemed like India were going the same road as the first four partnerships (in the second innings) could put together 39, 45, 28 and 8 runs respectively.
Thankfully, Rahane (40*) and Pujara (79*) applied themselves brilliantly in the middle. They took their time to settle in and then started to score freely. The pitch, which seemed like a mine-field, did not hamper their stroke play or their defense. There were a few close calls but the Australian bowlers struggled to make any sort of in-roads. As Pujara went from strength to strength, Rahane too gained in confidence, despite being demoted down the order.
Meanwhile, this is the third 50+ stand for India in this series. Earlier in the first innings, it was Pujara and KL Rahul who put together a 61 run-stand in the first innings. Australia on the other hand has had seven already.
This partnership is making things a bit worrisome for the visitors and they will be wary of that. But India will fancy their chances of winning this Test from here on, provided they can extend their lead to atleast 200 tomorrow. Whatever the result of this match maybe, for now it seems Day 4 will be a mouth-watering contest.