Cheteshwar Pujara’s marathon double hundred complemented by Wriddhiman Saha’s dogged century put India in complete command with an imposing total of 603 for 9 against Australia on the fourth day of the third cricket Test.
With a substantial lead of 152 in their kitty, India chose to declare the innings. The bowlers then went all out as Australia were tottering at 23 for 2 when stumps were drawn.
Ravindra Jadeja (2/6) got a couple of deliveries to land on the rough and breach through the defences of David Warner (14) and Nathan Lyon (2).
An overjoyed Virat Kohli was seen patting his heavily strapped injured shoulder after Warner’s dismissal, an obvious reference to Glenn Maxwell’s mocking on Saturday.
The match has undoubtedly been set up by Pujara’s (202) marathon vigil which lasted for more than 11 hours (672 minutes).
He faced 525 deliveries—most by any Indian batsman in an innings surpassing Rahul Dravid’s Indian record of 495 balls against Pakistan at Rawalpindi back in 2004.
The Saurashtra right-hander hit 21 boundaries in his third Test double hundred adding a record 199 runs for the seventh wicket stand which could well prove to be a game-changer.
Wriddhiman also played his part to perfection en route his career-best score of 117.
This was the third Test century for the wicketkeeper-batsman, who has now cemented his place in the team. He faced 233 balls hitting eight fours and a six.
Jadeja (54, 55 balls) used the long handle to good effect and stretched the lead to 150 plus with the Australian bowlers finding little assistance from the surface.
Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe sent down a record 77 overs picking 3/196 in the process. The number of overs bowled by O’Keefe is highest by an overseas bowler on Indian soil.
Comeback man Pat Cummins was the most successful bowler bagging 4/106 in 39 overs. It was a laudable effort considering the pace at which he bowls and the fact that he was playing Test cricket after a long time.
But Nathan Lyon (1/163 in 46 overs) was a disappointment once again.
The Indian team did not waver from their safety first approach as 243 runs were scored in the 80 overs that they batted on the day. The idea was to out-bat the opposition and take the game into the final day which they have successfully done.
Australia, with their strong batting line-up, would be hoping that they can bat out for a draw on the final day before going for the jugular in Dharamsala.
But a fifth-day pitch is likely to ask a few tough questions as they still need 129 runs to avoid an innings defeat.