Monday 11 December 2017 / 10:25 PM

PUJARA AND JADEJA TURN THE SCREWS ON AUSSIES

Australia face a mammoth task to save the third Test against India in Ranchi after a gruelling weekend in the field.

The tourists trail by 129 with eight second-innings wickets remaining after India declared on 9/603 – featuring a magnificent double-century from Cheteshwar Pujara – in response to Australia’s 451.

Ravi Jadeja did some major damage to Australia’s chances late on Day 4, rattling the off-stumps of David Warner and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon to leave them in trouble at 2/23.

Steve Smith’s majestic 178 not out and Glenn Maxwell’s maiden Test ton underpinned Australia’s strong total, but Indian openers Lokesh Rahul (67) and Murali Vijay (82) set about eroding the lead on Saturday.

After a century stand from Vijay and Pujara, Virat Kohli’s poor series with the bat continued when Pat Cummins had the skipper out caught for 6. But despite modest contributions from Anjinkya Rahane (14), Karun Nair (23) and Ravi Ashwin (3) that left the hosts’ first innings evenly poised at 5/320, a 208-run partnership between Pujara and wicketkeeper Wriddinham Saha turned the Test dramatically in India’s favour.

Pujara was finally out for 202 after facing a record-breaking 525 deliveries, while Saha reached 117.

Jadeja upped the tempo with 54 not out off just 55 balls before Kohli called time on India’s 210-over innings. Cummins finished with 4/106, while Steve O’Keefe notched 3/199 from a colossal 77 overs.

Warner (14) started in trademark aggressive fashion with three boundaries before falling to Jadeja at the start of the sixth over and Lyon (2) couldn’t fulfil his nightwatchman duties, gone just two overs later.

The bad blood between the sides – or more specifically the Australian team and the fiery Kohli – reached a histrionic new high (or low, depending on your view of the teams’ behaviour) when the Indian captain gestured towards the visitors’ balcony with maniacal delight after Warner’s wicket.

Matt Renshaw (7 not out) and Steve Smith will start Australia’s uphill climb towards salvaging a draw on Day 5.

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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