Australia hit back after India take lead

Tea India 189 and 122 for 4 (Pujara 34*, Rahane 2*) lead Australia 276 (S Marsh 66, Renshaw 60, Jadeja 6-63) by 35 runs
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This was a session of millimetres and milliseconds. As the wrestle for control of this match continued between India and Australia after lunch on the third day in Bengaluru, two key moments stood out as potentially match-turning. And both of them fell Australia’s way. By the end of the session, India held a slender lead of 35 runs, and on a cracking pitch offering variable bounce, any target of 100-plus may yet prove tricky.

At tea, India were 122 for 4, and the key man was Cheteshwar Pujara, who was well set on 34 from 75 deliveries. Alongside him was the newly installed Ajinkya Rahane, who had 2, and still to come were Karun Nair and Wriddhiman Saha. But much responsibility rested on the shoulders of Pujara and Rahane.

Shortly before the break, a gamble to promote Ravindra Jadeja to No. 5 had failed when he drove lustily at an accurate delivery from Josh Hazlewood and was bowled for 2; the third umpire checked Hazlewood’s front foot and by a matter of millimetres it was a legal delivery. However, this was not among the most defining moments of the session: those involved the dismissals of KL Rahul and Virat Kohli.

Rahul had played outstandingly for 51, striking four boundaries and looking as comfortable on this surface as anyone, when he drove hard at a Steve O’Keefe delivery that flew through the vacant second slip region. Or at least it would have, had Steven Smith at first slip not defied the laws of physiology in his stunning reaction time and the propulsion of his body: he dived across to his right, threw his hand out and the ball stuck.

The loss of Rahul brought Kohli to the crease, and on 15 he was adjudged lbw to a Hazlewood delivery that kept low. Kohli immediately asked for a review of Nigel Llong’s decision, confident that he had hit the ball, but after all manner of replays and technology, the third umpire Richard Kettleborough could not determine conclusively whether the ball had hit the pad or the toe of Kohli’s bat first, and stood by the on-field call.

It continued a productive session for Australia and in particular Hazlewood, who began by nipping one off the seam to bowl Abhinav Mukund for 16 in the first over after lunch. Four wickets were just what Australia needed after India had gone to the break on 38 for 0; the morning session had truly been India’s, after Jadeja finished with a six-wicket haul and restricted Australia’s first-innings lead to 87.

Jadeja ended up with 6 for 63, the second-best figures of his Test career after the 7 for 48 he collected against England in Chennai in December. However, it was R Ashwin who made the first breakthrough of the day when Mitchell Starc slogged high to deep midwicket but failed to clear Jadeja, who completed a good catch near the boundary.

Matthew Wade moved on to 40 before he was done by Jadeja’s spin from around the wicket and was trapped in front, finding no solace in his review of the decision. Next ball, Jadeja struck again as Nathan Lyon tried to sweep a fullish delivery and was lbw for a golden duck; like Wade, Lyon asked for a review, but likewise was denied satisfaction.

Although Hazlewood survived Jadeja’s hat-trick delivery, the final wicket fell in Jadeja’s next over when Hazlewood skied a catch to long-on to leave O’Keefe unbeaten on 4. Jadeja’s efforts had kept India in the match and stopped Australia from building too big a lead; by lunch India were in a reasonable position, but by tea Australia had wrestled the match back into the balance.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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