Cricket

Disciplined India stretch lead to 166


INDIA TOUR OF AUSTRALIA, 2018-19

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Kohli and Pujara’s patient stand helped India take the honours on day 3 © Getty

India took big strides on the third day of the first Test in Adelaide as they built up an overall lead of 166 by Stumps. The bowlers earned them a slender, but crucial, 15-run lead in a rain-interrupted first session, following which, the openers and the Kohli-Pujara combine saw off Australia’s biggest bowling threats long enough to get ahead.

The partnership between KL Rahul and M Vijay, their first 50-plus stand outside home, saw them correct their mistakes from the first innings. Then, they were guilty of playing too many shots too early. But this time around they were willing to leave many more balls, and the approach reflected in the scorecard which read 11/0 after the first nine overs against the new ball.

KL Rahul was the first of the two to break the self-imposed shackles, going for repeated big drives against the pacers. It earned him boundaries and a stunning six as well but also to his eventual downfall at 44, when he was caught behind off Hazlewood. A short while before that Vijay had edged a loose shot to second slip off Mitchell Starc as Australia bagged both in the space of 13 runs.

But with the threat of the new ball seen off, and the cushion of a first-innings lead, India were still in a position to dictate terms. Nathan Lyon, however, remained a big threat with footmarks to work with. He even had Rahul dropped once, and Pujara twice reprieved through DRS.

But Pujara led the way in creating some frustration for Lyon by repeatedly padding the ball away while Kohli showed equal discipline from the other end. Together, they negated Lyon through his first spell and ensured that a wicket for Australia’s strike-bowler came only in his 21st, when Kohli was out caught at short leg. By then the duo had put on a 71-run stand for the third wicket, taking the game further away from the hosts, along with the lead earned in the morning.

That lead came about as India’s bowlers started the day needing three more wickets to finish Australia’s first innings. Travis Head top-scored with 72, and managed to add 44 runs between rain breaks in the first session with the tail, to help Australia get close to India’s first innings score of 250.

The day started with a 45-minute delay because of rain. And when play started, Mitchell Starc, the other overnight batsman with Head, came out looking to be positive and survived a few nervous moments against India’s pacers in his knock of 15. It came to an end when he edged behind a full delivery from Jasprit Bumrah before rain stopped play once again.

When play resumed once more, Nathan Lyon hit 24 off 28 balls, sweeping R Ashwin for a boundary and hooking Mohammed Shami for a six while Head batted steadily at the other end. The ninth-wicket stand worth 31 was helping Australia dream about a lead, but Shami put a quick end to those hopes.

Soon after being hit for a six, he managed to get Head and Josh Hazlewood off successive deliveries and in identical fashion (caught behind) to bring the innings to a quick end.

With the bowlers doing their job well once again and India’s batsmen standing up to the task of building a sizable lead, India finished the day with their nose ahead as Pujara, remained unbeaten on 40.

Brief scores: India 250 (Cheteshwar Pujara 123; Josh Hazlewood 3-52) and 151/3 (KL Rahul 44, Cheteshwar Pujara 40*) lead Australia 235 (Travis Head 72; Jasprit Bumrah 3-47 R Ashwin 3-57) by 166 runs.

© Cricbuzz

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