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India vs Australia 3rd Test Day 2
KL Rahul scored his fourth fifty of the series as India reached 120/1 at stumps on Day 2 of the 3rd Test at Ranchi. Ravindra Jadeja earlier picked 5/124 to dismiss Australia for 451. Aussie skipper Steve Smith remained unbeaten on 178 while Glenn Maxwell slammed his maiden Test hundred.
Ajinkya Rahane remained in charge as Virat Kohli stayed off the field despite reports that his shoulder injury wasn't serious.
Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell extended their overnight partnership of 159 to 191. Smith proved hard to remove, moving from 117* to 178* but India's bowlers worked their way around him to take 6 wickets for 142 runs today.
Maxwell did not take long to bring up his maiden Test Hundred in the morning or to depart after it. Jadeja got the breakthrough for India, Saha took a good catch and Maxwell walked back to the pavilion.
The Ranchi pitch still did not turn appreciably and looked good for batting with the odd one seen gripping the surface. Rahane attacked with tight fields and Jadeja did the rest to restrict Australia despite two more frustrating partnerships between Smith-Wade (64) and Smith-O'Keefe (51). Yadav removed O'Keefe and Hazlewood was run out by Rahul and Jadeja with a Dhoni-esque collect to delight the Ranchi crowd.
A fluent 67 from Rahul helped India posted a strong response to Australia. Rahul, Man of the Match in the Bengaluru Test, put on 91 for the first wicket with Vijay (42*) as India finished the day 120/1, 331 behind. Cheteshwar Pujara was also at the crease on 10*. A splendid bouncer from Pat Cummins had Rahul dismissed caught behind in the last hour of play after a good batting display from both openers. Spinners Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe did not trouble the Indian batsmen much, despite some evidence of turn during Australia's innings.
The day was not overwhelmingly in favour of either team but India did a great job of limiting the damage of Day 1, even buying Kohli a whole crucial day off the field to allow him to recover.
"Ajinkya did a very good job. He was very sure of his plans. Ajinkya being Ajinkya, he was taking advice from the seniors, Ashwin and Ishant. In Virat's absence, he kept the energy well. He positioned himself in the outfield and made sure he communicated well with the bowlers," India's fielding coach R Sridhar said at the post-match press conference.
"It was probably the better batting day in the series so far. Pitch was nice and placid. It's not that we are in the situation for the first time during this home season. It was a very good day one batting track. We will see how it unfolds tomorrow," Sridhar added
"There were a few good spells from Umesh, he was coming and giving it really hard, getting the ball to reverse a bit. There was not too much of pace in the wicket to try too many bouncers. So it was not in the plan and we tried a few ones to surprise the batsmen."
Sridhar also asserted that India is very much capable of a bouncing back in the game after enduring a tough first day since they managed to stage comeback against England when the visitors posted big first innings totals in Mumbai and Chennai in the previous series.