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“KL Rahul (67) and Murali Vijay (82) batted beautifully but the partnership between Pujara and Saha is the best I have seen,” said Virat Kohli (above) © IANS

Ranchi: India captain Virat Kohli was on Monday effusive in his praise for Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha’s record 199-run stand, saying that it was the “best” partnership he has ever seen. Pujara (202) and Saha (117) steered India to 603 for nine against Australia and gave the team a substantial 152-run lead in the third cricket Test, which eventually ended in a draw. “KL Rahul (67) and Murali Vijay (82) batted beautifully but the partnership between Pujara and Saha is the best I have seen,” said Kohli at the post match presentation ceremony. “We never thought we would be able to take 150-run lead. Then yesterday two wickets fell and we thought we had a good chance. But credit to the two [Australian] batsmen Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb [for their 124-run stand for the fifth wicket and saving the match], they batted really well,” he added. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia, 3rd Test at Ranchi

Kohli said that his team got itself into a very good position where they could have enforced a victory. “We got ourselves into a very good position,” said Kohli. “Losing the toss here was never easy. Not being able to take the field [due to injury] was never easy for me and then watching the opposition get big runs was difficult. But we batted beautifully.”

Applauding his players’ desire to stand up and be counted, Kohli said: “Guys want to push the barrier, their physical limits, their mental toughness. Credit to Australia for playing out the draw, but we played ourselves into a position where we could have won.” Heaping praises on both Pujara and Saha, the skipper said: “When you play only one format, you are always extra determined to make it count. Pujara is very motivated, and he is really good at Test batting. This is the best I have watched him bat. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia, 3rd Test at Ranchi, Day 5

“Saha did it in West Indies, he did it in Calcutta as well, and here under pressure, he really stood up. You feel happy for him because he is such a wonderful guy. Always smiling, always happy for whoever achieves anything.” Jadeja also came in for a special mention from the India captain. “Jadeja is unbelievable. I have never seen anyone bowl so economically for so long ever. He knows his limitations and sticks to it.”

Kohli said that the team would continue to do what it has been doing in the fourth and final Test at Dharamsala. “Dharamsala, no different from what I have done here. We have given our best here, and as long as we keep doing that, I am sure we will get ourselves into winning positions,” he said. Smith: AUS left themselves bit short of first innings total vs IND in 3rd Test

Man of the match Pujara said he never thought that he would play out as many as 525 deliveries, which he faced during his double-century knock. “When Wriddhi [Saha] came in, we had a chat we needed a big partnership. I never thought I would play so many balls, but once I was in I knew I had to bat long to reach close to their total. I do get tempted to hit in the air, but you have to look at the bigger picture. There was a situation when we couldn’t afford to lose another wicket, so I had to restrict myself,” he explained.

Pujara also said that his and Saha’s partnership was “much-needed for the team”. “They scored 450, to come back, go past that total, and put them under such pressure was great. But Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb batted really well,” he said. Pujara, who spent more than 11 hours in the field, said he has been working hard on his fitness. “You get fatigued, but I have been working hard on my fitness, careful with my diet, and hoping to recover soon for the big Test coming up,” concluded Pujara.