Opener KL Rahul’s brilliant half century and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja’s five-wicket haul helped India stage a solid fightback in the third Test of the ongoing four-match series against Australia at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) International Stadium on Friday.
At Stumps on Day Two, India stood comfortably on 120-1 with Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease on 42* and 10* respectively.
In reply to formidable Australian total of 451, Rahul (67) shared a 91-run opening stand with Vijay and ensured that the visitors never come in a dominant position.
Rahul, the opener from Bengaluru, in particular didn’t allow the Australian pacers to have their say and looked very comfortable as he scored his fourth fifty of the series before he was scalped by Pat Cummins, who is replacing Mitchell Starc.
Cummins, who is making a comeback to Test cricket after six years, pitched a quick delivery short that hurried on to Rahul, who tried to drop his wrists and leave it.
But it ball continued coming towards Rahul’s body and kissed his left glove, in which he was holding the bat. Matthew Wade accepted a simple catch and ended what was another brilliant knock from the 24-year-old. India still trail Australia by 331 runs.
Earlier, resuming the day at 299 for the loss of four wickets, the visitors started playing normally, in no hurry to score runs. Overnight batsman Glenn Maxwell, who was playing his first Test of the series, completed his maiden Test century with a boundary through third-man region.
However, Jadeja soon after, took Maxwell’s wicket at his individual score of 104. Skipper Steve Smith, on the other hand, never looked in any kind of discomfort against the Indian bowlers, especially against Jadeja.
The No. 2 all-rounder picked two more wickets before Lunch and Australia were 401 for the loss of seven wickets at break.
Pune hero Steve O’Keefe and Smith then shared a crucial 51-run stand to help Australia cross 400. However, the off-spinner was caught at fine-leg to Umesh Yadav’s delivery.
Jadeja scalped Nathan Lyon to complete his eighth five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
The Australian skipper tried shielding last batsman Josh Hazlewood but Jadeja reminded Ranchi spectators a glimpse of their local hero, MS Dhoni, to run out the pacer and end the Australian innings. Smith remained not out on 178.
The 28-year-old finished with 5 for 124, with four of his wickets coming on the second day.
The wicket looks to be playing pretty well and seems to remain a haven for the batsmen. Thus the hosts would want to put on a big first-inning score and knock off as many runs as possible and put pressure on the visitors.