India v Australia, 3rd Test, Ranchi, 2nd day March 17, 2017

India solid in reply to Australia's 451


India 120 for 1 (Rahul 67, Vijay 42*) trail Australia 451 (Smith 178*, Maxwell 104, Jadeja 5-124) by 331 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Steven Smith's latest epic, Glenn Maxwell's first Test hundred and a spell of the highest quality from Pat Cummins showed Australia's strengths even as India fought back with a solid opening stand on the second day in Ranchi. Some spiky help from the lower order lifted the tourists to 451 before Cummins extracted life from the friendliest pitch of the series to defeat KL Rahul.

M Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara fought their way to the close, but the Australians still hold a first-innings lead of 331 on a pitch expected to get harder for batting from here on in. Virat Kohli, inconvenienced by a shoulder injury, will be able to bat wherever he chooses due to his problem being deemed external having resulted from a heavy landing when trying to stop a boundary on the first day of this match.

Kohli was confined to the hosts' viewing area and treatment table due to a shoulder strain as the tourists pushed on beyond the day's midpoint with a sensible mixture of attack and defence. Smith sailed on past 150 to the highest tally by an Australian captain in India, with only one instant of uncertainty when he edged Ishant Sharma short of Wriddhiman Saha. Otherwise, he was in total control, and might still be batting now were it not for a lack of partners.

The emotional high point of the morning arrived when Maxwell sliced a boundary through third man to pass three figures on his return to the Test team for the first time in three years. It was just reward for a highly mature and intelligent performance, one that vindicated the selectors' decision to recall him in place of the injured Mitchell Marsh. At the same time, it also opened up an opportunity for Maxwell to begin a new phase of his career, as not only a limited-overs entertainer but also a Test-match performer.

Ravindra Jadeja's five wickets were proof that some assistance was available for the spinners, with Maxwell and Cummins both defeated by deliveries that turned and lifted after being bowled at considerable pace by the left-armer. Australia's chances of pressing home their current advantage will depend on how the pitch continues to deteriorate.

The second new ball was still shiny when Smith and Maxwell resumed, and plenty of early runs accrued from any errors of line or length from Ishant and Umesh Yadav. Maxwell was quick to 99 then briefly becalmed. One Jadeja delivery kicked and beat the bat in a forerunner of the ball that was to dismiss him five runs later.

Glenn Maxwell hugs Steven Smith after reaching his maiden Test hundred © Associated Press

Maxwell's celebration was unrestrained, a tight embrace with Smith underlining the innings' importance to him and also perhaps the example from whom he had gained an appreciation for the finer arts of Test batsmanship - Smith had himself once been a cricketer many doubted would mature into a five-day force.

When Jadeja claimed Maxwell's edge, Matthew Wade arrived in a busy mood and wasted little time in building a 64-run stand with Smith. Just when it seemed captain and wicketkeeper would get through to the lunch interval, Jadeja skidded a straight ball through to claim Wade's outside edge, well taken behind the stumps by Saha.

Cummins could last only two balls before his stumps were clattered by sharp spin, but Steve O'Keefe was able to get to the break in Smith's company and endured for an hour after it with stern defence and the odd angry shot. Eventually, he fell prey to the hook shot, and Nathan Lyon did not last long against Jadeja's bounce before Josh Hazlewood was run out as Smith tried to pinch the strike one last time.

The new ball did little for Hazlewood and Cummins when they opened shortly before tea, though Cummins' pace offered a threat commensurate with that lost to the Australians when Mitchell Starc was forced home by a foot fracture. O'Keefe found turn slow, and Lyon soon reverted to the line from around the wicket that he often chooses when a pitch is not offering much assistance.

When the pacemen returned in the evening session there was a modicum of reverse swing for Hazlewood, but it was Cummins who raised his game to find a breakthrough by mixing his speeds with a series of cutters while maintaining an immaculate line. He was into his fifth over of the spell for four runs when a slower bouncer, again perfectly pitched, kissed Rahul's top glove on the way through to Wade for a deserved wicket.

An over later, Cummins was rested after a burst that returned the figures of 1 for 8 and demonstrated the rare combination of brawn and brains that had the selectors rushing him to India. Lyon came close to following up when he struck Vijay in front of the stumps from around the wicket, only to be foiled by an inside edge. A subsequent bat-pad decision referral was still more clear cut.

Wickets will be hard work on day three, but Cummins, and Jadeja before him, had both shown that it can be done.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mark on March 19, 2017, 4:33 GMT

    Rather than go on the offensive to progress the game. India is committed to not losing, at risk of winning. Time is running out for India and they continue with a slow run rate. The Border/Gavaskar appears to be a fading dream.

  • krisjo4061355 on March 18, 2017, 10:43 GMT

    @PAT_ONE_BACK ON MARCH 18, 2017, 6:27 GMT "Very ugly sight to see Kohli clapping out a very close referral"

    That is Kohli's way of saying "when no help from the dressing room, DRS goes kaput".

  • krisjo4061355 on March 18, 2017, 9:50 GMT

    @SHOBHIT SINGH : "Seem this score is not justify at any sense for no.1 team ,it should be 270 or 280 till lunch."

    Time and again you are exposing your ignorance. Even if it was a pop gun bowling, scoring 160 runs in a session is difficult. The way aussie bowlers bowled, a tight line and length, it is not easy to score. This is not your T20 to score 170 runs in a session.

  • Mark on March 18, 2017, 9:37 GMT

    Was Pujara the batsmen that was given not out whilst being out twice in consecutive balls LBW and caught bat pad?

  • krisjo4061355 on March 18, 2017, 9:33 GMT

    Looks like not much help from the dressing room, Smith lost both DRRS calls !!!

  • krisjo4061355 on March 18, 2017, 9:23 GMT

    @CRICFANKB ON MARCH 18, 2017, 2:27 GMT "If lucky Ind will score around 300."

    @CRICINFOUSER ON MARCH 17, 2017, 12:57 GMT "Same pundits predicted India will chase 400 odd in Pune, now they say Ind to score 630 lol. Max max max India can score 300 that's it.."

    Pie on your face!!! You can't talk now, that's right, you have your foot in your mouth !!!

  • Anushka on March 18, 2017, 8:23 GMT

    Pujara 100. No Australian clapped... we don't mind...

  • Abey on March 18, 2017, 7:33 GMT

    How many runs Kohli has taken during the tests between India and Australia? Kohli has made fame and money and he is not bothered. Of course he is one of the best in the world. But he really needs rest for a couple of months. Probably his mind is with forthcoming IPL for his personal benefit

  • Rahul on March 18, 2017, 7:18 GMT

    PAT_ONE_BACK: So Kohli is not allowed to support his team? It seems Kohli is not allowed to do anything. Please publish, cricinfo.

  • Deepak on March 18, 2017, 6:49 GMT

    Vijay pujara love each other they stich partnership together and if one gets out other follows suit expect pujara wicket in coming overd