India vs Australia: Cheteshwar Pujara helps India narrow deficit after Pat Cummins blows

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By: Reuters | Ranchi |
Published:March 18, 2017 5:29 pm


Cheteshwar Pujara scored his 11th Test hundred was still unbeaten on 130 at stumps. (Source: Reuters)

Top order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara compiled an industrious unbeaten century to keep India on course to match Australia’s first innings total of 451 in the third Test on Saturday. Australia paceman Pat Cummins made a successful return to Test cricket after five years in the wilderness, oozing hostility and claiming 4-59 on a placid track to help restrict the hosts to 360-6 on day three of the contest.

Pujara was batting on 130 at stumps, the first century by an Indian batsman in the four-Test series, having spent nearly seven hours at the crease to consolidate his team’s position in the contest. Wriddhiman Saha was giving him company on 18 with India still 91 runs behind.

A steady accumulator of runs in an Indian line-up of mostly flamboyant stroke-makers, Pujara’s solid defence stood him in great stead as his 11th Test century underlined the virtue of playing along the turf, minimising risks.

The 29-year-old hit 17 boundaries in his composed knock, often threading the ball through gaps and letting the exceptionally fast outfield carry it across the rope.

Resuming the day on 120 for one, Pujara and Murali Vijay raised their sixth century partnership of the season to lead India’s strong reply.

Playing his 50th Test, Vijay, then on 58, survived a bat-pad catch when the inside edge went undetected and Australia could not challenge the not-out decision having exhausted their reviews. Not that the opener could make the most of the reprieve. In the final over before lunch, Vijay jumped out to a Steve O’Keefe delivery only to be stumped for 82, which included 10 boundaries and a six.

Virat Kohli walked out after lunch to a thunderous applause, having stayed away from the field since injuring his shoulder on Thursday, and there was a pin-drop silence as he departed after facing 23 balls that yielded six runs.

Armed with the second new ball, Cummins induced Kohli into a loose drive and Australia skipper Steve Smith took a sharp catch at second slip.

Ajinkya Rahane belief his reputation as a watchful batsman with a ramp shot more suited to limited-overs cricket, feathering a Cummins delivery to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.

Karun Nair lost his off-stump to Josh Hazlewood and Ravichandran Ashwin could only glove a Cummins snorter to Wade in the final session.

The four-Test series is levelled 1-1 with Dharamsala hosting the final match from March 25.

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