Cricket

India chipping away at Aussie lead

2017-03-17 15:37
Steve Smith (AP)

Ranchi — India made a confident start in the first innings of the third Test against Australia on Friday, reaching 120-1 by the close of the second day after Australia was dismissed for 451 thanks to a big unbeaten century from skipper Steve Smith and a maiden Test hundred from Glenn Maxwell.

Lokesh Rahul scored his fourth half-century of this series as India finished the day still 331 behind.

At the end of play, opener Murali Vijay was unbeaten on 42, while Cheteshwar Pujara was 10 not out.

After tea, Rahul, with 67, and Vijay took their opening stand to 91 runs. It was their highest partnership in ten innings together.

Rahul reached his fifth Test half-century off 69 balls, and was the aggressor in the opening stand. He hit nine fours and faced 102 balls.

Vijay dug in for the long haul from the very beginning and faced 112 deliveries

Pat Cummins dismissed Rahul with a sharp bouncer in the 32nd over. The batsman had nowhere to go against a quick and rising delivery, and it nicked his glove on its way to the wicketkeeper.

Pujara and Vijay then added 29 for the second wicket, and never looked in any particular bother.

Earlier, Glenn Maxwell (104) scored his maiden Test hundred and extended his fifth-wicket partnership with Smith to 191 runs. Smith also added 64 with Mathew Wade (37) as the visitors notched up a challenging first-innings' total.

From an overnight 299-4, it was literally a bat-breaking start to the day. Maxwell's willow broke in half off the first ball he faced from Umesh Yadav.

"Going to sleep at 82 not out, I thought about it all night," said Maxwell.

"There were 300-400 scenarios in my head, and most of them weren't good. So much emotion fell out of me as I got to that hundred. It is as special a moment I have had in my career and hopefully it's not the last," Maxwell said after the day's play.

"I wanted to make this opportunity count. When I was told I was playing this test, there was a lot of emotion in that moment as well. I just remember going home that night and just being so excited to put on the cap the next day," he added.

Maxwell is only the second Australian batsman after Shane Watson to score hundreds in all three formats.

Australia were bowled out for 451 in their first innings with Steve Smith scoring an unbeaten 178. He batted for a mammoth 512 minutes, facing 361 deliveries, and hit 17 fours.

Ravindra Jadeja (5-124) was the standout bowler for India as he took his eighth five-wicket haul in Test cricket. Umesh Yadav returned figures of 3-106.

"I think 451 is a par score on this wicket. It is still quite good for batting. It is very easy to score here and the singles are coming readily so you can rotate strike. The outfield is very quick too," said Yadav.

Smith had struck his 19th Test hundred on day one, and rescued the visitors from 140-4 after they won the toss and opted to bat.

Australia won the series-opener at Pune by 333 runs, and India leveled with a 75-run win in Bangalore. In both matches, the pitch has played a significant role in the outcome.

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