Ravichandran Ashwin put India on the road to wrap up the second Test against Australia by picking up two wickets in the final session, restricting the visitors to 74 for two at stumps. Australia trail India by 192 runs with eight wickets in hand and two days to play.
Opener David Warner started proceedings in Australia's second innings in his usual aggressive manner as he hit three successive boundaries off Ashwin in the second over. The Australians, however, survived a couple of dropped chances in the first 10 overs, both off the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni were the culprits, although both were tough chances.
Warner and Ed Cowan persevered and soon brought up their 50-run partnership. Warner was curbing his usual attacking instinct in a bid to preserve his wicket, while Cowan too proceeded at a slow rate.
India then picked up two quick wickets via Ashwin. The Chennai boy bowled Warner (26) around the legs as the Australian opener went to sweep him. Warner would be disappointed with the mode of his dismissal, especially since he was building a good partnership with Cowan. New man in Phil Hughes (0) then fell almost in similar fashion; replays showed that the ball hit his gloves before going on to dislodge the bails.
Shane Watson then joined Cowan in the middle as the duo went about in trying to stem the leak. They managed to take Australia to stumps without further damage, but have a herculean task ahead of them on Day Four if Australia want to save this Test.
Earlier, Australia took seven wickets in the post-lunch session to bowl India out for 503. Debutant Glenn Maxwell (four for 127) was the pick of the bowlers for Australia. The off-break bowler ran through the Indian middle and lower order along with fellow spinner Xavier Doherty (three for 131) to restrict India's lead to below 300.
James Pattinson got things rolling in the second session; the pacer sent Sachin Tendulkar (7) back to the pavilion moments after lunch, but not before a long consideration by the third umpire regarding a clean caught-behind. Tendulkar tried to work a delivery that angled down the leg to fine-leg, but missed as the ball carried to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade. Pattinson, though, immediately appealed for a caught-behind, and umpire Marais Erasmus decided to check with the TV umpire. S Ravi, sitting in the hot seat, detected a slight sound as the ball went past Tendulkar's bat and eventually gave him out.
With the score on 404 for four, Indian skipper MS Dhoni walked in and hit a quickfire 44 off 43 balls, including eight boundaries, before holing out to mid-off. Maxwell got his second wicket as Dhoni tried to clear mid-off, but got too close to the ball and mishit it. Doherty almost spilled it and took the catch on the second try after the ball hit him on the chest.
Following Dhoni's departure, India lost the rest of the wickets in a heap and collapsed from 460 for five to 503 all-out.
In the first session, Cheteshwar Pujara scored his second double century in Tests as he helped India bury Australia deeper in runs. India took lunch at 400 for three and were 163 runs ahead of Australia at the time.
Eighty-nine runs were scored in the morning session as Murali Vijay (167) and Pujara (204) continued to pile on the misery on the Australians. In the first hour of play, the Indians were a little watchful and played calmly, thereby reducing their run-rate to under three. But the pair continued to grind the Australian bowlers, who prepared themselves for another long day in the sun.
Soon enough, Vijay got to his first ever 150 in Test cricket. The Chennai lad got there by flicking Peter Siddle off the legs wide of mid-on. He took 332 balls, including 20 boundaries and two sixes. Pujara, meanwhile, on 187 not out, became the second-fastest Indian batsman to reach 1,000 runs in Test cricket. The 25-year-old got there in his 18th innings, which is four more than what Vinod Kambli took to reach the milestone.
Australia finally managed to break through the barrier of the mammoth, record second-wicket partnership as debutant Glenn Maxwell got his first wicket in Test cricket. Bowling around the wicket, Maxwell's delivery took an extra bit of bounce off the pitch as Vijay tried to work it off his legs. However, the Indian opener was foxed by the bounce and the edge carried to Ed Cowan at leg-slip.
The wicket broke an Indian record 370-run second-wicket partnership, moving past the previous best of 344 by Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar against the West Indies at Kolkata in 1978-79. It was also the second-highest Indian partnesrship ever for all wickets, falling 43 runs behind the 413 hit by Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy in 1956.
Pujara, still hobbling after hurting his knee while running on Day Two, then notched up his second double century of a short 11-match career, with none other than Sachin Tendulkar for company. However, he was to fall to James Pattinson soon after as he tried to pull the Australian quick over square. The ball took the top edge and flew to long leg where Xavier Doherty latched on to a superb catch. Pujara was gone for a superb 204 off 341 balls, most of which were scored with a limp.
Brief Scores: Australia 237 for 9 dec. and 74 for 2 (Ed Cowan 26*; Ravichandran Ashwin 2 for 42) trail India 503 (Cheteshwar Pujara 204, Murali Vijay 167; Glenn Maxwell 4 for 127, Xavier Doherty 3 for 131) by 192 runs.
First Published: March 4, 2013, 4:32 pm