Pujara 150, Saha fifty bring deficit under 20

Henrietta Brewer
March 19, 2017

Ranchi: Cheteshwar Pujara carried his bat through the day and carved out a defiant century to keep India afloat at 360 for six against Australia in a Test that was tantalisingly-poised after his exemplary display of grit and discipline here.

His unbeaten 130 has spanned 328 balls and almost seven hours, and helped India whittle the Australian lead down to 91 by stumps on Saturday ahead of Sunday's fourth day.

For Australia, pacer Pat Cummins bagged four wickets, while left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe took three wickets.

India captain Virat Kohli declared after India crossed the 600-run mark with a boundary Jadeja tucked off his ribs.

However, Australia's persistence paid off as the Indian middle-order failed to deal with the pace of Pat Cummins.

Pujara established a new record for the longest innings by an Indian batsman as he made a patient 190 not out while Safa went to tea on 99, just one run shy of his third test hundred.

2 - 77 overs bowled by O'Keefe is the second most by any bowler since 2000 after 79 overs by Ray Price against SA in Bulawayo in 2001.

Pujara and Saha were also involved in a huge partnership for the seventh wicket.

Resuming the day at 360/6, Pujara passed 150 in an unbroken century stand with Saha as India closed in on Australia's first innings total of 451. Batting on 10 overnight, Pujara absorbed the pressure and built his innings beautifully as he struck his 11th Test century in a top class display of grit and gumption.

If anything at all could have lifted them, it would have been a better showing with the ball, and then the hope that their batsmen would respond well.

Cummins, who struck twice in the afternoon session, got Rahane caught behind and Hazlewood bowled Nair with a handsome reverse swinging delivery in the final session. "He produced some great balls to get wickets today", said Australian assistant coach David Saker.

The batsman immediately reviewed and replays suggested the ball would have missed the stumps. India now trail by 331 runs with 9 wickets in hand. "But the players are aware of what is happening on the field", Vijay said.

Pujara stood up and thwarted an Australian attack that was full of confidence and buoyed by the wickets falling at the other end, but the one man they could not remove was Cheteshwar Pujara whose series of exquisite drives, cuts and flicks, combined with solid defence led India towards parity in this crucial third Test match.

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