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Marsh, Handscomb show grit as Australia reduce deficit (Tea Report)

20 March 2017, 01:12 | Joan Schultz

Enroute to his double century, Cheteshwar Pujara hit 21 boundaries but most importantly spent more than 600 minutes at the crease.

Australia were 59 for two, having lost two wickets in eight overs yeaterday, when the match shifted momentum towards the Indian dressing room.

India had been under tremendous pressure - 328 for 6 replying to Australia's 451 - when Saha walked in. There was more misery waiting when they came out to bat. Saha's third century came in his 34th innings, compared to Dhoni's 62.

"In that game, Puji backed me and encouraged me to play my shots and be positive", Saha said. "It will be a good challenge for the group to put it into practice tomorrow and we've got to do that and to deliver on the big stage".

"But once the ball gets a little bit softer it plays pretty well, so there's no real demons in the track". Cheteshwar Pujara's store of patience and concentration ran to 11 hours and 525 deliveries. We'll see how they pull up and make a decision. It is already causing alarm for Australia, who have four southpaws in the top seven compared to India's zero. Perhaps the ball losing its hardness as it became old did not assist Ashwin and Jadeja much in this session. "Definitely run scoring was hard, they too bowled on very good areas", said Vijay.

Australia were reeling on 83 for four at the break, still 69 runs in arrears, and will need an extraordinary batting effort to prevent India from going 2-1 up in the four-test series.

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2 Players who have made more double-centuries against Australia than the two by Pujara. Saha also joined in the run-fest, completing his third Test ton. "[I take the help of] the batting coach [Sanjay Bangar], Raghu [India's throwdown coach], Anil [Kumble] bhai, the fast bowlers - my strength is to let the short ball go, that's what I work on".

This was the type of scenario Australia's brains trust had been dreading when they gambled on the highly talented but injury-prone Cummins.

210 Overs batted by India - their fourth-longest Test innings and the second longest in last 55 years.

The teams went in to Tea with Australia on 149/4.

Marsh and Handscomb refused to panic, combining for a calm and sensible stand of 86 that reduced India's lead to just three runs and also prevented India from taking a single wicket in the afternoon session.

There was more frustration nearing lunch when Saha, on 51, again had an lbw call overturned.



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