Wriddhiman Saha and Cheteshwar Pujara were brilliant during the fourth day of the Test match against Australia in Ranchi on Sunday. Saha's third Test ton and Pujara's brilliant knock of 202 runs, helped India take a healthy 152 runs lead after Virat Kohli declared the innings at 603 runs.
India bowlers had eight overs on the final session to make some in-roads into Australian batting line-up, and Ravindra Jadeja did the job for India, dismissing the dangerous David Warner and night watchman Nathan Lyon to put India in strong position.
In the morning session, after having declared out leg before wicket, Saha went for a review and the decision was overturned in his favour. From there on, Saha (117, 233b, 8 x 4, 1 x 6) looked solid, scoring runs against both seamers and spinners with equal ease. The wicket-keeper batsman looked to rotate strike and did not allow the Australian bowlers to settle.
Though the pitch did not offer much purchase for the Australian bowlers, it doesn't take the credit away from Saha's brilliant innings. On the other side, Pujara 202 (525, 21 x 4) showed his guts, grit and gumption in fending off the Australian attack. Pujara has also broken Rahul Dravid's (495 balls) record of playing the most number of deliveries in a Test match.
Pujara's sound technique came in real handy. Pujara, who stayed at the batting crease for 665 minutes, charged down the pitch against the spinners not allowing them to exploit the rough and played with a straight bat against the pacers.
The right-hander started Day 4 on 130 runs, and added an important 72 runs before being dismissed on the final session of the day. A few overs after Pujara's dismissal, Saha also lost his wicket in the process of upping the ante.
Jadeja (54, 55b, 5x4, 2x6) played some good shots in the end to help India cross 600 runs in the first innings, helping India take a lead of 152 runs.
With just eight overs left, India started with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, with both spinners getting some decent help from the wicket. There were plenty of oohs and aaahs emanating from the animated close-in fielders. The left-arm spinner looked a huge threat and beat Matt Renshaw couple of times, and managed to get through Warner's defense to send him back to the pavilion.
Nathan Lyon came as the night watchman, but he could not stick around much as Jadeja clean bowled him for two runs. That was the final action of the day, and India walked off the field full of confidence, and will start the final day as favourites to in the match. Day 5 is going to be all about survival for Australia batsmen. India, on the other hand, will look to take eight more wickets and go 2-1 up in the four-match series.
Scores: First innings: Australia: 451 all out in 137.3 overs.
India: 603/9 in 210 overs, declared
Overnight India's score: 360/6 in 130.0 overs
Second innings: Australia: 23/2 in 7.2 overs, trail by 129 runs
Batting in the middle: Matt Renshaw (7, 21 b, 1x4)
Bowling: First innings: Australia: Josh Hazlewood 44-10-103-1; Pat Cummins 39-10-106-4; Steve O'Keefe 77-17-199-3; Nathan Lyon 46-2-163-1; Glenn Maxwell 4-0-13-0.
Second innings : India: R Ashwin 4-0-17-0; Ravindra Jadeja 3.2-1-6-2.
Fall of wickets: First innings: India: 527/7, Pujara (193.2 overs), 541/8, Saha (196.1 ov), 595/9 Yadav (208.2 ov)
Second innings: Australia: 17/1, David Warner (5.1 overs); 23/2, Nathan Lyon, (7.2 overs)