Rahul, Pujara guide India after slow start

Indo Asian News Service

Dharamsala, March 26 (IANS) Opener Lokesh Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara hit half-centuries as India reached 153/2 in their first innings at tea on the second day of the fourth and final cricket Test against Australia here on Sunday.

Rahul and Pujara produced a partnership of 87 runs following the early dismissal of Murali Vijay.

Rahul batted steadily to score 60 runs with nine hits to the fence and a six before being dismissed while trying to hit a short pitched delivery from Pat Cummins over onside.

Pujara was unbeaten on 53 with stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane batting on 19 at the other end at the break.

The two added 45 runs between them. The hosts are now trailing Australia's first innings total of 300 by 147 runs.

Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood dismissed opener Murali Vijay for figures of 1/31 while Cummins returned 1/45.

Resuming the post lunch session at 64/1, Pujara nad Rahul scored at the rate of almost four runs an over before the latter was dismissed.

Rahul had batted patiently for 124 deliveries before a verbal volley from Cummins appeared to affect his concentration.

Cummins produced a bouncer with his next ball and Rahul tried to hook it from outside the off-stump line.

However, the Karnataka right-hander could not connect properly and only managed to offer an edge off the toe end of the bat to David Warner at cover.

Rahane walked in and almost handed another wicket to Cummins when he tried to guide another bouncer over the slip cordon. With a third man in place, the Mumbai batsman was lucky not to connect the bat with ball.

The Indian stand-in captain continued to be aggressive and was off the mark in spectacular fashion, pulling Cummins for a boundary before top edging the next ball for a six over the wicketkeeper's head.

Rahul and Pujara had scored at the rate of around four runs an over in the first hour after lunch. But the former's dismissal saw the run rate go down.

Rahane offered another chance to the visitors when he found an outside edge while attempting to drive a delivery from Steve O'Keefe. Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade could not collect the catch as the hosts went into the tea break without further mishap.

Brief scores:

India (First Innings): 153/2 (Lokesh Rahul 60, Cheteshwar Pujara 53 batting; Josh Hazlewood 1/31, Pat Cummins 1/45) vs Australia (First Innings): 300.

--IANS

ajb/pur/mr