Cheteshwar Pujara's 130* has kept India in the hunt in the 3rd Test (Courtesy: AFP)
Cheteshwar Pujara’s 130* has kept India in the hunt in the 3rd Test (Courtesy: AFP)

The day began with visuals of Virat Kohli batting in the nets. The first session was about a padded-up Kohli’s reactions from the dressing room. The second session was about Kohli’s dismissal. Despite spending less than two of the six complete sessions on the field, it was still all about Kohli. Amidst the usual Kohli hullaballoo, two men who stood tall for their respective sides were Cheteshwar Pujara and Pat Cummins, purely for cricketing reasons. Full cricket scorecard: India vs Australia, 3rd Test at Ranchi

At stumps on Day Three, India are 350 for 6, still trailing Australia by 130 runs. Pujara is batting on 130 while Wriddhiman Saha is holding the fort with a resolute 18. Here’s Suvajit Mustafi, fishing out the highlights from the third day’s play.

Vijay’s happy 50: Murali Vijay made his 50th Test momentous by slamming his 15th Test fifty. While his batting average is a shade above 40, his average against Australia is above 57. Vijay made his debut against Australia in 2008-09 season. 2 years later, he scored his first hundred against the same side. In the 2012-13 season, he staged a memorable comeback against the same side. And now, he played another fine knock against them in his milestone Test.

Slow and steady start: Let me be very blunt with the words. The first hour of the day’s play was boring. India had scored only 26 runs in the first 70 minutes (17 overs) of play. It was towards the lunch when both the batsmen, especially Vijay showed urgency with the scoring.

India eventually scored 73 from 30.4 overs in the first session before Vijay committed hara-kiri had a brain-fade moment.

A three-figure goes begging: Vijay, clearing the boundaries at will, decided to loft Steve O’Keefe out of the park with three balls to go before the lunch. Only Vijay knows the answer to the why. Post the day’s play, with his usual casual demeanour, he labelled it a ‘poor shot’. Yes, it was. He was stumped for 82. It could have been a hundred. A well-deserved one. ALSO READ: Cheteshwar Pujara shines with a terrific 130* in attritional day

Vijay and Pujara clocked their sixth hundred partnership this season. Their partnership average reads 68.40, and this season it is almost touching hundred. But before Vijay fell, there was drama aplenty…

DRS drama: Australia lost both their reviews when they appealed for an LBW. Nigel Llong, the third umpire, felt the ball kissed the bat’s edge before making its way to the pad. However, another angle made it debatable and it seemed that ball had just grazed the pad. Chris Gaffeney’s on-field decision stayed.

In the following over, Vijay was appealed for bat-pad off Nathan Lyon’s bowling and Australia had no reviews left. It was adjudged ‘not out’. In between, Kohli who was very animated in the dressing room, decided to poke at the Australian woes. He came out of the dressing room and clapped joyously.

Kohli’s stay in the middle: Amidst huge roars, Kohli walked out to bat in the second session. The clips of his net practice had gone viral by then. However, he spent more time at the nets than in the Ranchi pitch.

After Australia had taken the second new ball, Kohli edged a fuller delivery from Cummins to Steven Smith, out of all, at slips. The ball prior to that, Glenn Maxwell had made a fantastic save (Kohli-like that got him injured) at the boundary. After that, Maxwell was seen mocking the Indian captain by placing a hand on his shoulder. It seemed he had done it in jest, but in social media it got blown out of proportion. He could have avoided that though.

Things got uglier on the social media space when photos of Smith teasing Kohli post his dismissal started doing rounds until some sanity prevailed and the real thing came into fore.

 

Kohli departed for 6. He now has 46 runs from 5 innings in this series. In these desperate times of serenity and salvation, there was a wannabe Gandhi spotted in the stands.

Rahane’s ‘brain-fade’ moment: He is the vice-captain of the side. The need of the hour for Rahane was to stand there at the wicket alongside Pujara. Rahane once again gave a peek to his inconsistent run. Out of all the shots, he employed an upper-cut to Cummins, only to find Matthew Wade’s gloves.

Pujara’s meditation: Sanjay Manjrekar, in the commentary box, called Pujara’s resistance as ‘meditating with the bat’. It was no less. Pujara was rock-solid. He batted the entire day, playing 328 deliveries for his 130.

Despite losing Kohli, Rahane, Karun Nair (brilliantly cleaned up by Hazlewood) and Ravichandran Ashwin cheaply, Pujara stood firm at one end, and will be key to India’s fortune on Day Four. He played the waiting game and if the bowler erred, he did not fail to capitalise.

Cummins’ show: He was 18, and it was five-and-half years back when he played his only Test. He picked seven wickets before disappearing in the oblivion due to injury. Like Maxwell, Cummins too lunged into his Test comeback. He dismissed Rahul and Ashwin with absolute snorters. His pace and bounce troubled the Indians. Kohli and Rahane fell due to their mistakes, but Cummins deserves the credit for altering the lengths according to situation.

He even got the ball to reverse, and at a good pace. A five-for is something he will eye. He deserves it.

Jharkhand’s loss, Ranchi’s gain: A gripping Day Four is on the cards. We can expect a packed house. Not just because it is Sunday. There is a chance of MS Dhoni landing up at the stadium.

The Dhoni-led Jharkhand crashed out of the Vijay Hazare Trophy against the Manoj Tiwary-led Bengal side in the semi-final. Dhoni’s 62-ball 70 could not help Jharkhand cross the lines. With his side out of the tournament, Dhoni is expected to be back in the city. So Jharkhand’s loss seems like it’s capital city’s gain.

Irrespective of the match situation, Dhoni in the stands is a good enough reason for the crowd to flock at JSCA International Stadium Complex.