Patient India buy time, take lead
Gritty Pujara digs in again as visitors extend lead to 166 after finishing Day 3 on 151/3; Australia remove Kohli to keep hopes alive
Adelaide: The sun took a break but India shone to stay ahead of Australia in the opening Test after sporadic rain intrusions, KL Rahul’s enterprise and Cheteshwar Pujara’s obduracy culminated in a 166-run lead here Saturday.
Virat Kohli was dismissed late in the final session as India reached 151 for three at stumps on day three at the Adelaide Oval.
The Indian skipper lunged forward to defend off Nathan Lyon (1-48) but was caught at short leg for an uncharacteristic knock of 34 (104 balls). At close of play, Cheteshwar Pujara was unbeaten on 40 runs, while Ajinkya Rahane was batting on 1 not out. India led by 166 runs.
Post tea, Kohli and Pujara took their third-wicket partnership to 71 runs, albeit it was low on strike-rate, coming off 197 balls.
Pujara survived early in the last session, courtesy DRS again, as the ball seemed to miss the stumps on account of bounce in the 40th over by Lyon.
At the other end, Kohli became the fourth Indian batsman after Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid to score 1000-plus runs in Test cricket against Australia.
The hosts though cut off most of his scoring opportunities, and Kohli was happy to play for time as he didn’t dominate the bowling for once. Their third-wicket partnership crossed 50 off 149 balls.
India’s lead swelled past 150 shortly thereafter, and just when it appeared to be smooth sailing for the visitors, Lyon struck to remove Kohli before stumps and put the match in balance again.
Earlier, Rahul scored a quick-fire 44 off 67 balls as India reached 86 for two at tea. Rain had further caused delays post lunch and another 23 minutes were lost before play could finally get underway, with 61 overs remaining for the day.
As opposed to the first innings, Rahul and M Vijay were more careful and negotiated the Australian pace battery without much discomfort. They left well and looked to cut out any high-risk shots as India were placed at 19 for no loss in 10 overs.
Suddenly, Rahul cut loose and smacked Pat Cummins all over the park as the score sped to 35-0 in the next two overs. Vijay was the first to go, out driving again, and caught at second slip off Mitchell Starc (1-18). It fizzled out the Indian momentum, even as Rahul continued playing his shots.
Pujara survived a scare in the 24th over, using DRS to overturn a caught-behind decision off Lyon. But two balls later, Australia’s desperation for a wicket paid off as Rahul edged behind off Josh Hazlewood (1-25).
(Clockwise from left) India’s Cheteshwar Pujara plays a shot as Australian fielders react on Day 3 of the first Test at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide on Saturday; Australia captain Tim Paine (L) celebrates India skipper Virat Kohli’s dismissal; A young Indian fan enjoys the action —AP/Reuters