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3rd Test, Day 3: India 360/6, trail Australia by 91 runs
The world's top two Test teams probably played the best cricket in the entire series on the third day of the third Test at Ranchi today. Pat Cummins' second debut, after almost a gap of 6 years saw him trouble the Indian batsmen with some smart bowling.
The tall pacer bounced out Rahul on day 1 and used the bouncer as his main weapon today. Rahane and Ashwin both were dismissed off short deliveries but the moment of the match came in when he pocketed Kohli cheaply (6), driving to a ball away from his body and edging it to Smith in the slip cordon.
If Cummins led the OZ attack, India's Cheteshwar Pujara remained undefeated and undeterred - battling for an entire day.
Resuming at an overnight total of 120/1, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara applied themselves in the first session - grinded for the first 90 minutes and scored boundaries at will in the next 30.
There seemed to be a Ravi Jadeja in Steve O'Keefe's plan - where he contained the batsman and deprived them off even singles in his spell. He had Pujara trapped in front of the wickets only before the umpire denied their appeal. Steve Smith reviewed it to find out that there was a huge inside edge which meant Aussies lost out on their 2nd review too.
In the very next over, Nathan Lyon appealed for a bat-pad to Vijay but was again denied. Replays suggested an inside edge but the visitors were left with no reviews.
O'Keefe was finally awarded in the last over before Lunch when a lapse in concentration saw Vijay dance down the track and miss a ball which hardly spun to be stumped for 82.
The post Lunch session saw Virat Kohli walk out with Pujara. He was solid in his defence and batted for 22 balls before Australia took the second new ball without hesitation.
Cheteshwar Pujara flicked Cummins to the midwicket fence but Maxwell's stupendous chase in the Kohli-corner, the part of the ground where he had undone his shoulder, saved a run and more importantly got Kohli on strike.
Kohli was then removed off the very next ball thus justifying every bit of why a player needs to throw his body around and save runs on the field, with a right technique of course!
India lost Rahane (13) to Cummins but Pujara ensured he kept the scoreboard ticking and notched his 11th Test ton and the 4th of this home season.
The final session tested the patience of Pujara when Hazlewood first cleaned up Karun Nair (23) and Cummins within a gap of 8 runs removed Ashwin (3) to reduce the home team to 328/6.
Gloves man Saha and the marathon man, Cheteshwar, as termed by the broadcast commentary panel batted through to stumps, taking India to 360/6 - 91 runs behind Australia's first innings score.
The 3rd session yielded only 57 runs but Pujara made sure that India did not hand over the advantage to the visitors after a gruelling day's play on the 22-yard strip.
The Test match is very much in the balance and it'll be interesting to see how the debut track behaves on the final two days of the Test match.