#INDvAUS, 4th Test: Patient Pujara drives India after Rahul’s exit – Pujara, though, fell soon after Tea on Day 2.
Australia’s wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (L) watches as India’s Cheteshwar Pujara plays a shot during the second day of play of the fourth and last Test at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala on March 26, 2017 (AFP)
Lokesh Rahul threw away his wicket after scoring his fifth fifty of the series but Cheteshwar Pujara batted with characteristic calmness to steer India to 153 for two at tea on the second day of the fourth and final test against Australia on Sunday.
Pujara, who batted for over 11 hours in the drawn third test in Ranchi to score 202, was batting on 53 at the break with India still 147 behind Australia’s first innings total of 300 all out. Ajinkya Rahane, leading the home side in the absence of injured regular skipper Virat Kohli, overcame his initial jitters to remain 19 not out.
Pat Cummins and new ball colleague Josh Hazlewood oozed aggression in the morning session, especially when they hit the cracks on the pitch which offered wholesome bounce for them. Hazlewood was rewarded for constantly attacking the line outside the off-stump with Murali Vijay edging him to Matthew Wade to depart for 11.
In the paceman’s previous over, Vijay’s edge had fallen just short of wicketkeeper Wade. Rahul also had his fair share of luck. The right-hander, then on 10, edged Cummins but the ball brushed Matt Renshaw’s finger tips at first slip before racing to the boundary.
Rahul, who was hit on the index finger of his right hand by a Hazlewood delivery, left well, drove elegantly and slog-swept Steve O’Keefe for a six en route to his fifty. The second-wicket partnership was worth 87 runs and appeared ominous when Rahul lost his concentration after Cummins gave him a piece of his mind to which he responded by nodding.
On the very next ball, Rahul went for a wild hook, the bouncer hitting the toe end of his bat before finding David Warner at mid off. Rahul’s 60 also included nine boundaries. Rahane found himself in the line of fire and the otherwise dependable batsman made things difficult for himself by trying to pull and hook his way out of trouble.
The fourth ball he faced from Cummins did not offer the length but Rahane still went for the pull shot and was lucky as the top edge flew over the wicketkeeper’s head for a six. Pujara brought up his fifty with a boundary off Nathan Lyon. The number three batsman was solid in his defence and capitalised whenever the Australians bowled overpitched deliveries directed at his pads.