Monday Mar 20, 2017
RANCHI: Cheteshwar Pujara said Sunday the spinners should win the third Test for India after his double century and a marathon partnership with centurion Wriddhiman Saha put the hosts on top against Australia.
After declaring their first innings on 603 for nine late in the final session on day four in Ranchi, the hosts rattled Australia with two strikes including the key scalp of David Warner (14).
Ravindra Jadeja disposed of both Warner and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon (2) in an absorbing final session of play.
The tourists, 152 behind on the first innings, ended the day on 23-2.
Before bamboozling the Australian batsmen with his left-arm spin, Jadeja also scored an unbeaten 54.
"I am very confident our spinners (Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja) will bowl really well. There is rough, there are cracks (on the pitch)," said Pujara.
The day belonged to Pujara (202) and Saha (117), who put on 199 for the seventh wicket to frustrate an Australian bowling attack that failed to take a wicket in the first two sessions.
Pujara recorded his third Test double-century in his 47th match and Saha posted a career-best Test knock to take India way past Australia´s first innings score of 451.
Pujara, who resumed the day on 130, hit 21 boundaries in an otherwise sedate innings which lasted for 525 balls -- the longest innings by an Indian Test player in terms of balls faced.
"I have the experience of scoring big runs in domestic cricket," said Pujara, who recently scored a century during a 300-plus stand with Saha in the final of a domestic competition.
"Experience matters a lot. When I was batting, I thought we just wanted to get close to their total... I could have played more shots but I had to control myself."
The 29-year-old -- whose top Test score is 206 not out against England in 2012 -- got to his double century with a flick to square leg off Nathan Lyon. He pumped his fist in a rare show of emotion as his teammates cheered from the balcony.
But he was out in Lyon´s next over, lobbing a catch to midwicket. He walked back to the pavilion to a standing ovation and a few handshakes from the opposition players.
Saha, who hit seven fours and a six, soon followed his overnight partner after falling to left-arm spinner Steve O´Keefe.
"This is the best among the three (Test hundreds) I have," Saha told reporters.
"We badly needed a partnership. Pujara has so much patience... he is always at the top of his game," said Saha, adding that "every Indian bowler would be effective" come day five.
Jadeja came in at number nine and played a useful cameo, putting on 54 for the ninth wicket with Umesh Yadav (16).
Pat Cummins claimed four wickets while left-arm spinner O´Keefe took three.
Australia´s coach Darren Lehmann said Steven Smith´s side has the mettle to last three sessions against the Indian spinners.
"Going to have to come up with a plan to combat Jadeja, but we´ve worked on that and you´ll probably see it tomorrow, I would think," said Lehmann.
"Once the ball gets a little bit softer it plays pretty well so there´s no real demons in the track.
"It´s a case of obviously applying ourselves, much like Pujara and Saha did today. We´ve done a lot of practice in those conditions so I´m really confident they can do the job," he added.
The four-match series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is tied 1-1.