Pujara double hundred gives India 152-run lead vs Australia

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Ranchi, India (AP) — A 199-run seventh-wicket partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha gave India a 152-run lead after they declared their first innings at 603-9 against Australia on Sunday.

Australia were put in for eight overs until stumps, a spell that cost them with the tourists at 23-2 when play ended. Matt Renshaw was unbeaten on 7 runs.

Ravindra Jadeja (2-6) bowled David Warner (14) in the sixth over with a delivery that turned in sharply after hitting the rough outside the left-hander’s off-stump.

He also bowled nightwatchman Nathan Lyon (2) in the last over of the day.

India's Cheteshwar Pujara, right, plays a shot during the fourth day of the third test against Australia in Ranchi, India, Sunday, March 19. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
India’s Cheteshwar Pujara, right, plays a shot during the fourth day of the third test against Australia in Ranchi, India, Sunday, March 19. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

“Obviously we want to save the game. It was tough to lose two wickets tonight. We have practiced different scenarios in Dubai and you need to do that when coming to India,” said Australian coach Darren Lehmann. “So tomorrow we have to put into practice what we did there and deliver on the big stage.”
The dismissals came after both Pujara (202) and Saha (117) reached their individual milestones post tea. First, Saha got to his third test hundred off 214 balls.

Then, Pujara scored his third double hundred off 521 balls. It was also his second double hundred against Australia, after 204 runs at Hyderabad in 2013.

Thereafter, the duo looked for some quick runs. The change in approach didn’t work with Pujara playing a loose shot, and getting caught at short mid-wicket off Nathan Lyon (1-163) in the 194th over.

In all, Pujara faced 525 balls and hit 21 fours, batting for a staggering 675 minutes.

Saha was out three overs later, caught at cover off Steve O’Keefe (3-199).

“When the ball gets softer, it plays better. So the batsmen will keep it in mind tomorrow. There are no real dings in the track as Pujara and Saha showed today. If India can bowl 10 balls like they did with one off the rough to Warner, then so be it,” said Lehmann.

Umesh Yadav (16), dropped early at mid-on off Josh Hazlewood (1-103), added 54 runs with Ravindra Jadeja (54 not out) for the ninth wicket.

This partnership hurt Australia as Jadeja brought up his sixth test half-century off only 51 balls. In all, he hit five fours and two sixes.

Yadav was last man dismissed in the 209th over, as India declared shortly afterwards with a handy lead. Pat Cummins finished with 4-106.

Earlier, Australia went wicket-less in the first two sessions of the day. Starting at an overnight 360-6, Pujara-Saha added 75 and 68 runs respectively on either side of the lunch break.

“He played with so much patience, and always backed me to play positively,” said Saha. “Even in defence, I was playing positively. I am backing myself more now, and playing my shots. This is one of my best innings. Tomorrow, I think our bowlers can do the job if we bowl tight lines like Australia did. We already have two wickets.”