India attain 235 for 9 at lunch, Pujara crawls as Pant races to 29

Sydney, January 9

An ultra-defensive approach by the senior batsmen put India in a spot of bother before Rishabh Pant’s impressive strokeplay lifted them to 235 for four against Australia at lunch on the third day of third Test here on Saturday.

Cheteshwar Pujara found it difficult to keep the scoreboard ticking during an extended first session as he crawled to 42 off 144 balls.

Skipper Ajinkya Rahane managed 22 off 70 balls before being played on by an off-cutter from Pat Cummins, while Hanuma Vihari (4, 38 balls), who has been in terrible form, was needlessly run out when he went for a quick but non-existent single.

It was Pant (29 batting, 45 balls), who showed some intent and tried to release the pressure created by Pujara’s negative approach.

A total of 84 runs from 34 overs during the session, with lack of intent especially from Pujara, didn’t help India’s cause and Rahane’s dismissal was purely due to the scoreboard pressure.

The Indian captain failed to get a move-on initially on a slow track where bounce became variable as the session progressed.

He did hit a cover drive and then tried to take on Nathan Lyon by lofting him for a six over long on.

However, Cummins bowled one where he got extra bounce in his off-cutter, cramping Rahane for room and he was played on. The duo added 32 runs in 22.3 overs and it didn’t help the team in any way.

Had KL Rahul been fit, there could have been a case of Vihari getting dropped as he didn’t show in any way that he was in control during his half an hour stay at the crease.

Pujara, at the other end, was bowled to an off-side field and he couldn’t find ways of scoring. Even the drive through covers or the one wide off mid-on didn’t fetch him boundaries. In the first 100 balls, he didn’t have a single boundary.

The only notable shot that he hit during the session was a backfoot punch through covers off Lyon, which got him a boundary.

It took an aggressive approach by Pant to give the Indian total some muscle going into the break. PTI

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