Calm India turn the screw on Australia
Pujara soldiers on but captain Kohli’s dismissal gives hosts a glimmer of hope in the first Test
>> ADELAIDE: India built a 166-run lead over Australia on the third day of an absorbing opening Test in Adelaide yesterday with dangerman Cheteshwar Pujara not out 40, although the late wicket of master batsman Virat Kohli gave the home team a glimmer of hope.
At stumps, the visitors were 151-3, adding to their first innings total of 250. Ajinkya Rahane was not out one, alongside Pujara who scored a gritty first innings century.
It was looking ominous for Australia with Kohli and Pujara compiling a 71-run third-wicket partnership, but spinner Nathan Lyon got a massive breakthrough when he snared the Indian skipper for 34 near the close of play.
“I think it’s slightly in our favour,” said Indian paceman Jasprit Bumrah.
“The late wicket was a good thing for them and the first session tomorrow will be very important. If we capitalise on that, it will leave us in a very good place in this match.”
He added that Pujara was key. “He’s showed a lot of patience and that is the key element in Test cricket. A great knock and hopefully he continues tomorrow.”
Australia were dismissed for 235 just before lunch, with Travis Head top scoring on 72 on a day hit by rain delays, leaving them 15 runs adrift.
Batting in front of his home crowd, Head said he was disappointed to not add more runs but believed the game was “evenly poised”.
“It’ll be a big first hour tomorrow, if we can get a couple of wickets and put them under pressure. I think the bowlers did a wonderful job to contain and continue to put pressure on them tonight.”
India got off to a solid start, with KL Rahul and Murali Vijay enjoying a 63-run partnership. Both failed to fire in the first innings and are battling for one opener’s spot once the injured Prithvi Shaw is fit again.
On a difficult batting track, Josh Hazlewood bowled four straight maidens to keep them contained before they began finding their range.
Rahul hit a big six off Pat Cummins as the pair grew in confidence and they were racing along before Mitchell Starc enticed Vijay into nicking an attempted drive to Peter Handscomb in the slips and he was out for 18.
Rahul played some audacious strokes before a loose shot to a Josh Hazlewood ball found a big edge and he was caught behind for 44 by Tim Paine.
The unflappable Pujara crucially survived two decisions by the umpire giving him out, with both reversed on review in a cruel blow to Australia.
In the first, he was initially dismissed caught behind off Lyon on eight, and in the second was adjudged out lbw, also to Lyon, on 17.
The prolific Kohli, who emerged to boos from a section of the crowd, shunned his trademark flamboyance to grind out runs before jabbing at a short ball from Lyon and Aaron Finch took an easy catch.
On the way, he reached another milestone, joining a select few Indians — including Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid — to score 1,000 Test runs in Australia.
India’s Cheteshwar Pujara bats during the first cricket Test between Australia and India in Adelaide.