India back against the wall at 120 for 4 in the post lunch session, after conceding a 87-run first innings lead to the opponents, were deep in trouble as key batsmen K L Rahul (51) and captain Virat Kohli (16), besides Abhinav Mukund (16) and Ravindra Jadeja (2) had departed.
At this stage Pujara was joined by Ajinkya Rahane (40 batting) and the duo have added what could ultimately be a match saving 93 runs unfinished partnership for the fifth wicket. Earlier, India restricted Australia to 276, after visitors resumed their first innings 237 for 6.
The hosts had been bundled out for just 189 in the first innings.
Ravindra Jadeja (6/63) and Ravichandran Ashwin (2/84) helped India restrict the first innings lead to 87.This partnership between Pujara and Rahane truly helped India force a balance to this hard fought test match with Australia dominating in most of the sessions during the first two days.
For the first time in the match, India dominated the first session today claiming four Australian wickets and restricting the visitor’s first innings lead.In the morning Ravindra Jadeja struck claiming three wickets in the morning running through the Australian lower order removing Mathew Wade (40), Nathan Lyon (0) and Josh Hazelwood (1).He was on a hat-trick before the last named thwarted it.
Ashwin accounted for Mitchell Marsh (24) caught well at mid-wicket by Jadeja at mid-wicket.
While Jadeja claimed six for 63, Ashwin returned with a haul of 2 for 84.Medium pacers Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav shared the other two wickets.India began well in the second innings with Rahul and Abhinav Mukund (16) adding 38 runs without being separated before lunch.
But Hazalwood then struck, putting skids on Indian hopes taking three wickets.
While Steve O’Keefe removed the important wicket of Rahul.Rahul scored the second half century of the match, his first in 15 test matches and during the course he also completed scoring 1000 runs in test cricket.Rahul struck four boundaries in his 85 ball essay and looked good for a bigger effort before Australian captain pulled of a stunning catch.
To a floated delivery Rahul tried to drive hard but the ball flew towards vacant second slip and Smith, the lone slip, flew in the air full length to pluck the ball behind his body.Hazalwood struck vital blows removing Mukund with an express delivery uprooting his middle stump and his biggest scalp was Virat Kohli who was trapped in front with a peach of a delivery.
Though the Indian captain sought a review signalling that he had snicked the ball, but the third umpire Richard Cattleburough could not decide upon the very close decision and left the decision to ground umpire Nigel Llong and Kohli turned back disappointed.India was down at 112 for 3 at this moment after the team had erased the first innings lead.
Jadeja (02) sent early, perished at the same speed clean bowled by Hazalwood who again uprooted the stumps of the left hander.India down 120 for 4 was looking through the barrel with just 33 runs overall lead when Pujara and Rahane joined.
The wicket seemed to have eased up a big and comfortable to bat and the two batsmen resurrected the Indian team with methodical batting and rotating strike to unsettle rival bowlers.
Pujara, lucky to survive after Smith dropped an easy catch when he was just four, went on to build a solid innings and his confidence level peaked during the last hour of the day’s play as he crossed 50 in 125 balls hitting three boundaries and grew stronger.Rahane who perished early in the first innings also played a fine innings as he punished both spinners and fast bowlers and so far struck three boundaries.Hazalwood took 3 for 57 runs in 16 overs for Australians.(UNI)