Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha’s 199-run seventh-wicket partnership and a late burst by Ravindra Jadeja both with the bat and ball put India completely in the driver’s seat at stumps on Day 4 of the third Test being played at the JSCA International Stadium Complex on Sunday. Australia ended the day at 23/2, trailing India by 129 runs, after the hosts declared at 603/9 earlier in the day. The visitors face a huge task on Day 5 as they will strive to survive the onslaught from left-arm orthodox bowler Jadeja and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
While Pujara scored his third double century in Test matches, Saha smashed the way to his third century. Jadeja then scored his sixth half-century before clinching two Australian wickets at close of play.
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. The pair batted through the morning session without losing a wicket and were 435/6 at lunch, 16 runs behind Australia with Pujara not out on 164 and Saha on 59.
They made the Australian bowling attack toil as they extended their seventh-wicket partnership to 107. Pujara, resuming on 130, added an untroubled 34 runs to his overnight score in a sedate innings. But Saha was thankful for the Decision Review System (DRS) after being given out lbw in Pat Cummins’ first over of the day.
Saha, playing his 24th match, settled after the scare to register his fifth Test 50.
Tempers wore thin briefly as Saha and fast bowler Josh Hazlewood exchanged words at the end of an over before umpire Ian Gould quickly stepped in to administer a ticking off to the players.
And there was a slight moment of confusion when at the other end umpire Chris Gaffaney appeared to briefly raise his finger after Pujara swished at a short ball, but it seemed he had been instead making a misinterpreted signal for a bouncer as a tentative appeal came in from Hazlewood.
Pujara and Saha frustrated Australian bowlers with a marathon stand and earned India a crucial first innings lead in the second session. After the pair had batted through two sessions without losing a wicket, India were 503/6 at tea, 52 ahead of Australia. Pujara was on 190 and Saha on 99.
Pujara then went on to score his third double century in Tests and second against Australia. Pujara’s knock was the longest innings, in terms of balls faced, by an Indian batsman, going past Rahul Dravid’s record of playing 495 balls while scoring a magnificent 270 against Pakistan in Rawalpindi in 2004.
The Saurashtra batsman, who had reached his 11th Test hundred on Saturday, also joined an elite league by scoring his 202. He is now one of three Indian batsmen, along with legends Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, to have two double centuries against Australia.
Pujara eventually got out while trying to accelerate off spinner Nathan Lyon to become the first Indian wicket to fall on Day 4. Looking to punch a short ball away, he chipped the ball to Glenn Maxwell at short midwicket.
Saha also hit a gutsy third century to bring up his highest score in Test matches, 117.
India then accelerated in the last session of play. After Pujara and Saha got out, Jadeja continued the onslaught to bring up his sixth half-century in Tests and India’s 600, extending the lead beyond 150.
Then the left-arm spinner scalped the important wicket of Australia opener David Warner before his wicket of Lyon ended the day’s play.