Pujara, Rahul give India 126-run lead vs Australia in second Test

Indo Asian News Service

Bengaluru, March 6 (IANS) Half centuries from opener Lokesh Rahul and middle order star Cheteshwar Pujara helped India reach 213/4 and take a sizeable 126-run second innings lead at stumps on the third day of the second cricket Test against Australia at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Monday.

At stumps, Pujara (79 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (40 not out) were at the crease, with an undefeated fifth wicket stand of 93 runs.

Resuming the final session at 122/4, Pujara and Rahane ensured that the hosts did not lose any more wickets with the Saurashtra right-hander getting to his 14th Test half ton off 125 balls.

Both the right-handers batted with extreme caution, and kept meddling the ball well to bring up their 50-run stand for the fifth wicket off 110 deliveries as the hosts neared the 200-run mark.

While Pujara consumed 173 balls for his knock, laced with six boundaries, Rahane 105-ball innings included three hits to the fence.

Rahane, who was pushed down to sixth in the batting order for his poor run of below-30 scores in recent times, did not let that affect his batting as the Mumbaikar finally managed to break the jinx.

Earlier, India struggled to reach 122/4 in their second innings till the tea session on a pitch where the ball had good bounce and assistance for the slower bowlers.

Having ended the morning session at 38/0 after Australia were bowled out for 276 runs in their first innings with a first-innings lead of 87 runs, India struggled to put up a strong partnership and lost four quick wickets.

Seamer Josh Hazzlewood (3-37) was the tormentor for India as he accounted for Abhinav Mukund (16), Virat Kohli (15) and Ravindra Jadeja (2).

He began the downfall of India when a delivery hit Mukund's pads before going on to kiss the stumps, with the hosts at 39-1.

Left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe too the big wicket of local boy Rahul (51). Aussie skipper Steven Smith, at first slip, pulled off a blinder with a superb diving catch to the right.

At 84/2, Kohli joined Pujara in the middle and the latter departed soon with a LBW decision in favour of Hazzlewood, whose delivery at the off stump kept low. Kohli thought his bat touched the ball before hitting the pad and took a Decision Review System (DRS) but the field umpire's decision remained.

Left-hander Jadeja was promoted ahead of Rahane and wickekeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha but the all-rounder could only survive for 12 deliveries, with Hazzlewood dismantling his stumps, with India reeling at 120/4.

Jadeja, however, emerged the hero in the morning session, returning with figures of 6/63 with his left arm spin to help India bundle the visitors for 276.

His spin partner Ravichandran Ashwin, contributed with two wickets while the pace duo of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav chipped in with an wicket apiece.

Jadeja's victims included promising opening batsman Matt Renshaw (60), Smith (8), Peter Handscomb (16), Matthew Wade (40) and tailenders Nathan Lyon (0) and Hazlewood (1).

--IANS

tri/vm