Pujara, Saha help India bring down first innings deficit

IANS
Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha helped India get closer to taking the lead with superlative batting as the hosts posted 435/6, 16 runs behind Australia's 451 at lunch on the fourth day of the third Test here on Sunday.

The two stitched together an unbeaten 107-run stand for the seventh wicket, with Pujara batting on 164 and Saha on 59. This is the highest run partnership in the innings.

Both the batsmen survived two LBW appeals as they were on the right side of their respective DRS calls.

Pujara, who has now batted 530 minutes playing 434 balls, became the first Indian to face more than 400 balls in a Test innings at home since V.V.S. Laxman in 2001.

Throughout his marathon stay at the crease, Pujara was involved in all six partnerships barring the opening stand of 91 runs between K.L. Rahul and Murali Vijay.

The Saurashtra right-hander, who was rock solid on the backfoot, scored most runs off left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe taking 52 runs from 177 deliveries hitting him for seven fours.

But what got captain Virat Kohli smiling was the fact that India got both their reviews right on the money. First Saha was given out when he was batting on 19 and the score was 362/6.

But after the diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman went upstairs, replays showed the ball was missing leg stump, leaving Aussies' wrecker in chief Pat Cummins (4/71) high and dry.

Pujara was next, taking DRS to a Nathan Lyon delivery which pitched on off stump and turned tad too much to miss the leg, forcing umpire Ian Gould to reverse his original decision.

The rub of the green continued going India's way as in the next over, visiting stumper Mathew Wade grassed a Saha cut off O'Keefe.

Either side of all this, Saha swept, drove and even hit a six to bring up his first half century against Australia.

Saha's innings was laced with four fours and a six. The Bengal stumper, like Pujara, also took a liking to O'Keefe scoring 24 runs off 52 balls from his overs with three fours coming in the way also.

Pujara was an epitome of concentration as he brought up his 150 in typical fashion, stealing a run of a defensive jab.

Shortly before the interval, Lyon again appealed and then referred, this time for caught behind when Saha executed a sweep shot.

But replays found no evidence of contact leaving the visitors more frustrated.


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