Pujara 106, Kohli 82 give India command


AUSTRALIA: Cheteshwar Pujara scored his second ton of the series while Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma hit fifties as India declared after racking up 443, and got into a position of comfort in the third Test.
Pujara and Kohli, the overnight batsmen, were instrumental in setting up a solid base with a stand of 170 for the third wicket, while Rohit ensured that the total was stretched after the duo’s departure in quick succession.
Kohli, who was on an overnight score of 47, got to his fifty in the first over of the day as the threat of the second new ball, still quite fresh, was seen off by both the overnight batsmen.
Australia’s wait for a wicket stretched on for the second session in a row, despite a few close calls. Kohli, in particular, was constantly threatened from a fuller length outside off but the edge was either missed or beat the slip cordon, adding to Australia’s frustrations on a dreary pitch. The bowlers, however, continued to bowl dry lines and lengths allowing India to score only 62 runs on the second morning.
While Kohli showcased patience, and some delectable drives, between his bouts of luck, Pujara was steadfast in his methods. Nathan Lyon briefly threatened to work Pujara over with the batsman stuck in the early eighties for close to six overs. But India’s number 3 managed to beat the legside trap with fluent drives through the offside, one of which also got him his 17th Test ton.
Kohli came out with an eye for quick runs in the second session and took on Australia’s short ball strategy successfully for a short while. However, he holed out to third man while sticking to the same plan, giving Mitchell Starc his first wicket of the innings, and Australia a breakthrough after 68 overs.
Pujara’s vigil ended soon after with Cummins finding some luck to get a ball to shoot through low and hit off stump to end his 319-ball marathon. However, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane (34) managed to put on 61 either side of the Tea interval to stretch India’s total. Nathan Lyon, who saw three catches dropped off his bowling through the day, could have seen the back of both batsmen but had no luck going his way. However, he did get his lone wicket – that of Rahane – through a shooter that showcased the uneven bounce on the pitch.
Sharma and Rishabh Pant (39) put on an enterprising stand of 76 even as Australia continued to keep a check on the run-rate, eventually making India declare with the option of having a crack with the new ball late in the day.
Australia’s openers survived that nervy, tentative phase unscathed on a pitch that was increasingly keeping up and down.
Brief Scores: India 443/7 (Cheteshwar Pujara 106, Virat Kohli 82, Rohit Sharma 63*; Pat Cummins 3-72) vs Australia 8/0


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