Cricket

3rd test: Pujara hits 130 as India trails Australia by 91

(AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

By CHETAN NARULA

Associated Press

RANCHI, India (AP) Cheteshwar Pujara hit an unbeaten 130 Saturday as India reached 360-6 at stumps on day three of the evenly balanced third test against Australia. With four first-innings wickets left, India trails Australia by 91 runs.

Wriddhiman Saha was 18 not out after adding 32 runs with Pujara for the seventh wicket at Ranchi's JSCA International Stadium Complex.

After tea, Australia choked the runs at Pujara's end and applied pressure at the other in order to sneak some wickets.

The tactic worked. Only 23 runs came in 14 overs in the hour after the break, with the loss of Karun Nair (23). Josh Hazlewood (1-66) bowled him with a delivery that darted in through the gap between bat and pad.

The ploy continued as only seven more runs came in the next 30 minutes with Pat Cummins (4-59) using the bounce to good effect once again.

Ravichandran Ashwin (3) continued his poor run, as the sharp bouncer kissed his glove and was caught behind off Cummins in the 116th over.

Pujara and Saha took India past 350 in the 126th over.

Earlier, Pujara struck his 11th test hundred but Cummins was the real star of the second session. He had Virat Kohli (6) caught at second slip immediately after taking the second new ball.

"Pujara has the game for this. He takes a lot of pressure and you can depend on him. It allows you to play naturally," said Murali Vijay, who scored 82 and put on 102 for the second wicket with Pujara.

In what has been an acrimonious series, there was more controversy when Glenn Maxwell appeared to mock Kohli after a tumbling fielding effort at the boundary. It was similar to the effort put in by Kohli on day one, which injured his right shoulder and kept him out of the field for much of the Australian innings.

"We are just concentrating on how the game is proceeding. But the players are aware of what is happening on the field," Vijay said. "Whatever they are doing, we are taking it sportingly. They have a second innings to go as well, so we hope they will take it sportingly then as well."

Cummins also broke the 51-run dangerous partnership for the fourth wicket between Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane (14).

"Last night he bowled particularly well and backed that up today. He produced some great balls to get wickets today," said Australian assistant coach David Saker.

In the morning session, Vijay scored his 15th test half-century to propel India from an overnight 120-1. He was out stumped off Steve O'Keefe (1-117) in the last over before lunch.

"The game is evenly poised," Vijay said. "We will try to get closer to their total and attempt to extend (the) lead from there. We have a good game in hand."

Australia scored 451 in its first innings, thanks to Steve Smith's 178 and Glenn Maxwell's 104. Ravindra Jadeja picked up 5-124.

The four-match series is level at 1-1. Australia won the first test at Pune by 333 runs, and India leveled with a 75-run win in Bangalore.

Updated March 18, 2017