India v Australia, 3rd Test, Ranchi, 4th day March 19, 2017

Jadeja leads India's charge after Pujara 202


Australia 23 for 2 (Jadeja 2-6) and 451 trail India 603 for 9 dec (Pujara 202, Saha 117, Vijay 82, Rahul 67, Cummins 4-106) by 129 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Play 03:44
Chappell: I see India being 2-1 up

Cheteshwar Pujara secured the longest occupation ever by an Indian batsman in a Test match as he and Wriddhiman Saha ground Australia into the Ranchi dust on the fourth day. The tourists were unable to maintain their shackles on the middle-order pair after a pair of close calls went against them in the morning, leaving India as the only side who can win this match.

That fact was underlined by the final eight overs of the day, in which Ravindra Jadeja bowled David Warner through the gate and then followed up by skidding through the nightwatchman Nathan Lyon with the day's last delivery. Jadeja's accuracy and variation of spin loom as the gravest threats to Steven Smith's bedraggled team on day five.

In all the Pujara-Saha stand was worth 199, denying Australia a wicket until the evening session when both batsmen fell in pursuit of quick runs to increase India's lead. Jadeja prolonged the punishment with a rapid fifty, and the tourists were left with eight overs to survive before the close, manoeuvred into a position from which India have already won Test matches at home this season.

Patience has always been a strength of Pujara's, and by surpassing Rahul Dravid as the Indian batsman to spend the longest time batting in a Test, he showed fortitude of a truly rare kind. Saha offered excellent support, opening his shoulders to play attractively against a tiring Australian attack and reaching a deserved century.

Pat Cummins, who again bowled with great quality for the tourists and deserved his four wickets, had Saha given out lbw with his first ball of the day, but the wicketkeeper's referral showed the ball to be missing leg stump by millimetres.

Closer to lunch Pujara was given out lbw to a delivery that Lyon straighted down the line of the stumps from around the wicket, but his review showed the ball to be spinning too much and also sliding past leg stump. Steve O'Keefe also came close to a breakthrough when Saha edged a cut shot attempt but the chance was dropped by Matthew Wade.

Chances dried up almost entirely in the afternoon as Pujara and Saha went on to a partnership that has redefined the match and possibly the series. Not least by placing a considerable physical strain on Australia's four-man bowling attack - Glenn Maxwell's offbreaks were used only sparingly.

Pujara's performance has effectively cancelled out the big hundred made by Australia's captain Smith, and put India in the ideal position to pressure the tourists on the final day. Saha's assistance was also vital in frustrating a touring team that had started the day with hopes of quickly rolling up the India tail and setting a fourth-innings target.

Cummins had briefly enjoyed the sensation of claiming a fifth wicket of the innings in his return to Test cricket nearly six years after his storied debut against South Africa in Johannesburg. Saha was nowhere near a ball angled into him, and there was some discussion with Pujara before he reviewed. The Australians were floored when ball-tracking showed the ball to be missing leg stump.

From there Pujara and Saha accumulated slowly, against bowling that remained disciplined under an overcast sky that compelled the umpires to turn on the stadium floodlights. Pujara's 150 was a marker of his concentration and temperament against bowling that rarely lapsed into looseness.

Lyon was not used until midway through the session, and from around the stumps he appeared to have found a way to winkle out Pujara when the umpire Ian Gould raised his finger in response to the lbw appeal. However Hawk-Eye again went the way of India.

Wade's drop of Saha from O'Keefe on 51 drew an apology from gloveman to bowler, then shortly before the interval Lyon again appealed and then referred, this time for caught behind when Saha essayed a sweep shot. But replays found no evidence of contact and left the Australians having made no progress for their morning's efforts.

Smith took the third new ball soon after play resumed, and once more Cummins produced a series of testing deliveries but was unable to claim the wicket Australia so dearly needed. Instead the hosts forged into the lead while the visitors used up their two decision referrals with a pair of overly optimistic appeals.

Pujara's long-batting milestone was followed by Saha's approach to within one run of his century at tea. The stand was worth an unbeaten 175 at the break, with two whole sessions elapsing without a single wicket. Another 24 runs were accrued after tea at an increasing rate, including Saha's century, before Pujara popped a catch to midwicket to hand Lyon his first wicket since day one of the Bengaluru Test.

Saha fell in a similar manner, but Jadeja was more successful in taking the attack to the visitors. O'Keefe's 77 overs were the sixth most ever by an Australian bowler in a Test innings, a tally not surpassed since Jim Higgs against England in 1979. Australia were defeated in that match, and the loss of Warner and Lyon ensures their 2017 descendants now face an almighty struggle to avoid the same fate.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • pennyn6574100 on March 22, 2017, 3:38 GMT

    The thing is this @ SAM_PATEL_US- before this Series started, you.. buddy and almost all SC trolls are saying No: 1 India will thrash Aussie 4-0 because India have already did that to Eng 4-0 & NZ 3-0 and Aust lost to SL 3-0, so weak Aust have no chance as Ind are superior than SL. How wrong are ur predictions???? thus you are so frustrated & could not believe how Aust are competing with mighty India & also in Indian's backyard as well. You now know that 4-0 is NOT going to happen anymore but in the back of ur mind that maybe India could lose this home series too.. So ur reasons" that India played better so far in this game" or series are false and u know it too because after 3 tests, score is 1-1 !!!... In rgds to SL, u need not worry. They currently have a fantastic series on with BD... So just u worry about ur precious India team because in ur own words, they could be "flatten by whole Australian team" if not careful....

  • Graham on March 20, 2017, 10:20 GMT

    Sam Patel : Hate to tell you this but it is 1-1 after 3 tests. Doesnt help your rant but thought you should be informed.

  • Ajay on March 20, 2017, 7:14 GMT

    For some reason, I don't see the day 5 intensity from the Indians on the field. Catches dropped at forward short leg. Fielders ambling along slowly. Slow over rate. Enough monkeying around with fast bowlers. There is nothing in it for them and they are consuming the overs without much discomfort for the Aussies while Ashwin is producing an edge every over (Karun dropped one now and another one earlier pre lunch - Bring in specialist Pujara there). Get the two spinners and bowl 25 overs with them in tandem an get 3 wickets atleast and get into the tail. We don't have runs to allow all 90 overs to bowl today. It should be done in another 45 overs with a luxury of 10 - 12 overs left to bat the 4th innings to score the 50 - 60 odd if required. Deficit will be wiped out in this session and from there there will be just 30 overs one session left and we need atleast 35% to 40% of those overs to score what Aus can score with their tail.

  • Damian on March 20, 2017, 6:50 GMT

    And I count a draw as a win

  • Vishal on March 20, 2017, 6:46 GMT

    Sunnysigara never seizes to amuse me.

  •   Deva Rajendran on March 20, 2017, 6:40 GMT

    I think SUNNYSIGARA is an Indian supporter. who wants to jinx the opposition by praising the opponents when they are looking good.

    And he does well too,but the same time he got some missiles by the fellow followers.

  • Charu on March 20, 2017, 6:39 GMT

    Where is Moh. Shami , Why he is not showing up anymore ?

  • Subramani on March 20, 2017, 6:39 GMT

    NAMPALLY I saw Vinoo Mankad at the Brabourne Stadium in the India vs SJOC ( Commonwealth ) in 1954. There was Frank Worrell in that side. Mankad hit Worrell for 3 sixes in an over ! His bowling was all about flight and deception unlike Jadeja. In fact the only other similarity between them is that they both hailed from the Saurashtra area. I am not sure why people keep harping on Jadeja's flatter style of bowling as long as he is successful through subtle changes in his iine.The great Alf Valentine and even Derek Underwood were fastish through the air.The real flight specialist was Bishan Bedi though. He was such a brilliant foil for the off spin of Prasanna. I remember the late cuts of both Mankad and Worrell They both seemed to play the shot with the the face of their bat facing downwards as opposed to nowadays where the bat is just horizontal.Maybe you can give me your inputs here.

  • mukul.2048773 on March 20, 2017, 6:34 GMT

    Jadeja apart from being relentless and highly economical is getting wickets from good part of the pitch where you are not allowed to run and on good batting wickets on 1st day as well as exemplary bursts on last day as well when things aren't going well. Real USP for us.

  • mukul.2048773 on March 20, 2017, 6:28 GMT

    @MOHAMMAD ZAMIN Ashwin actually contributed with 6 wickets in second innings of 2nd Test. This is a large home season, he is jaded unlike Jadeja with tremendous fitness levels.

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