The only glim­mer of hope for Aus­tralians that has still kept them in com­pe­ti­tion was the priced wicket of skip­per Vi­rat Kohli (34) who was caught at for­ward short leg.

The Sunday Guardian - - Sports - AYUSHMAAN PANDEY NEW DELHI

Long be­ing touted as the re­place­ment of Rahul Dravid af­ter he quit in­ter­na­tional cricket in 2012, Chetesh­war Pu­jara has been a treat to watch for the last three days, thanks to his im­pec­ca­ble dis­play of tech­ni­cal prow­ess, grit and pa­tience, which has put In­dia in the sad­dle and the team can now fancy their chances in the first Test in Ade­laide on Day 3. In­dia is 151 for the loss of three wick­ets in se­cond in­nings and the vis­i­tors now lead by 166 runs.

A score of 123 in the first in­nings and 40 in the se­cond on Satur­day, Pu­jara has looked rock solid in his de­fense through­out. Although he sur­vived twice af­ter been given out through re­views, there was no hint of fa­tigue, in­stead he oozed con­fi­dence in his shot se­lec­tion.

He was first caught be­hind off Nathan Lyon but the re­view showed no con­tact be­tween bat and ball. Lady luck was smil­ing on him again when he got an­other re­prieve through DRS af­ter be­ing ad­judged lbw off Lyon even as the bats­man looked de­ter­mined to pro­vide his team with a good lead. At close of play, Pu­jara and Ajinkya Ra­hane (1) were on the crease.

The only glim­mer of hope for Aus­tralians that has still kept them in com­pe­ti­tion was the priced wicket of skip­per Vi­rat Kohli (34) who was caught at for­ward short leg to Lyon as the spin­ner con­sis­tently bowled on the rough patches cre­ated by Mitchell Starc and the In­dian bowlers.

Much to the re­lief of the fans, the open­ers dug in this time and avoided early feast­ing on the length balls, giv­ing the team much-needed start in the process. A rare 63 run open­ing stand be- tween them laid the foun­da­tion of a good lead against Aus­tralia and more im­por­tantly it did not ex­pose Pu­jara and Kohli to the new ball. Sub­se­quently, Kohli-Pu­jara duo pro­vided In­dia with per­haps the most im­por­tant part­ner­ship of 71 for the third wicket, tak­ing the lead fur­ther ahead.

Mean­while, Kohli achieved an­other feat as he be­came only fourth In­dian bats­man af­ter Sachin Ten­dulkar, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Lax­man to reach 1,000 runs against Aus­tralia in Test cricket.

De­spite pro­vid­ing with a healthy start, it looks al­most cer­tain that, if fit, young Prithvi Shaw will take place of one of the open­ers in the se­cond Test match. The open­ers took their time, ac­cli­ma­tis­ing to the con­di­tions and pitch be­fore K.L. Rahul went all guns, throw­ing the kitchen sink with flurry of bound­aries in a short time.

A glo­ri­ous six over cov­ers off Pat Cum­mins took many by sur­prise but it didn’t took much time for Kan­ga­roos to ward off Rahul’s ini­tial flush of ex­cite­ment as he was caught be­hind while try­ing to go hard at the ball. He fell on 44. His part­ner Mu­rali Vi­jay (18) lost his wicket in sim­i­lar fash­ion in the slips to Pe­ter Hand­scomb.

The ini­tial part of the day was marred by rains with Aus­tralia start­ing to their overnight score of 191-7 only to sur­vive for an­other 44 runs. Eye­ing a cen­tury, Travis Head (72) could only add 11 runs to his score and fell to Mo­hammed Shami.

Although Lyon (24) stitched a cru­cial part­ner­ship with Head ow­ing to the strug­gles of In­dian fast bowlers, Ishant Sharma and Jaspreet Bum­rah, who bowled a bit short to the tail-en­ders. The other bats­men could not pro­vide much cush­ion to Lyon with Starc scor­ing 15 runs and Josh Ha­zle­wood get­ting out on a duck.

An in­ter­est­ing fourth day is on the cards as In­dia will look to fur­ther con­sol­i­date their lead. Much will de­pend on Pu­jara, Ra­hane and Ro­hit Sharma on how they go about their in­nings while Aus­tralia will hope to clob­ber down the In­dian bat­tling line-up as soon as pos­si­ble if they are to win the match.


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