Pujara's hundred holds India together

Tea India 303 for 4 (Pujara 109*, Nair 13*) trail Australia 451 (Smith 178*, Maxwell 104, Jadeja 5-124) by 148 runs
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Binoy: Pujara’s innings keeping India alive in the Test match

Cheteshwar Pujara accelerated impressively to a century after lunch but India lost Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane as they tried to close the gap to Australia’s first-innings tally on the third afternoon of the Ranchi Test.

The second new ball that Pat Cummins used to good effect to defeat Kohli and Rahane also aided Pujara in lifting his scoring rate, leaving the match delicately poised with one session of the day remaining. India had lost M Vijay at the stroke of lunch after he and Pujara had built a strong platform, aided by a strong dose of good fortune when both batsmen might have been out in the space of two balls.

Cummins was again the most impactful of Australia’s bowlers, while Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon toiled accurately for minimal reward on a pitch that is starting to show the faintest traces of deterioration. They were unable to find a way through Pujara, though he came within a hair’s breadth of being lbw via the DRS in the morning session.

O’Keefe appeared to strike Pujara in front of the stumps with the last ball of the 58th over, and the captain Steven Smith chose to review the not-out verdict.However, the appeal was declined though Ultra Edge evidence suggested the ball may have struck the pad before the bat.

First ball of Lyon’s next over, Vijay was caught at short leg but the appeal was declined, and with no reviews left as a result of the previous delivery, the video evidence of an inside edge onto pad was unable to be accessed. That sequence frustrated the Australians and allowed Vijay and Pujara to lift the scoring rate considerably in the lead-up to the lunch interval. Their stand was worth 102 when Vijay advanced unsuccessfully to O’Keefe and was well stumped by Matthew Wade in the last over of the morning.

Kohli walked onto the field after lunch for the first time since he suffered a shoulder injury on the first day when fielding, an ailment that has required plenty of treatment, scans and also a painkilling injection. He found little sympathy from the tourists, who maintained their stranglehold on his run-making by keeping him tied down until Cummins took the second new ball.

Glenn Maxwell dived to save a Pujara boundary – ironically in more or less the same spot where Kohli had been injured two days before – and the resulting three put India’s captain on strike, whereupon he drove at his first ball from Cummins and edged to an exultant Smith at second slip.

Australia’s celebrations continued when Rahane edged a half-hearted attempt to upper cut Cummins through to Wade, but Pujara was able to go on to his century in some style with a cover-driven boundary, and Karun Nair made a positive start to his innings as India’s total passed 300 – in all 110 runs flowed during the session.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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