1st Test: India extend lead to 275 after Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane fifties
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane put on 87 in 30.5 overs. (Image: BCCI)

An extended morning session went India’s way, mostly, with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane batting them towards a lead of 275 by lunch on day four at Adelaide Oval. Nathan Lyon‘s removal of Pujara for a superb 71 and Rohit Sharma for 1 before lunch took some shine off the good work, but at 260/5 and with five sessions left in this Test, India have a platform from where they can push for quick runs before tea with Rishabh Pant bullish at the crease.

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Adopting the same approach as they did on the third evening, Pujara and Rahane played for time while adding singles and the occasional boundary to frustrate an oddly off-colour Australia  in a stand of 87 in 30.15 overs. From an overnight 40, Pujara duly raised his fifty – the first time in 65 Test matches he has managed this – and in facing over 200 balls for the second time in this Test, he illuminated the road for his team-mates for the rest of the summer.

Never before had he faced as many as 450 balls in an away Test.

Pujara and Rahane saw out the first hour and a half without fuss. In that time, they added 58 runs in 18 overs. The Australian quicks lacked a bit of bite, blunted no doubt by the watchful approach of the batsmen. Lyon, as on day three, looked the likeliest to strike and for the third time in the Test, had an umpire lift his finger in his favour.

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Rahane was quick to review the decision for bat-pad, and it proved the correct decision. Lyon looked miffed, while Nigel Llong stood stone-faced. As you would expect from a bowler who had three decisions go his way on the field, only for each review to go against him. Egged on by a vocal Tim Paine behind the stumps – “bowling, Nathan” “well done, GOAT” – Lyon plugged away with teasing lines and the odd bit of bounce, but Pujara and Rahane resisted.

The new ball was taken without haste, Mitchell Starc managed some inswing but Rahane punched the ball down the ground for four. Starc went wide and Pujara sliced four over gully. Back to spin went Paine, and the harder ball brought the breakthrough. Lyon finally got his man on 71, the reward of a series of spinning dot balls that had Pujara fending and padding away. Off the last ball of the over, the edge was produced as Pujara shovelled the ball with his pads and short leg gobbled it up.

One brought two, as Rohit lunged forward and got an edge off Lyon to be well taken by Peter Handscomb at silly point. Enter Pant, who heaved his first ball over mid-on for two.

With a pulled boundary off Josh Hazlewood, Rahane reached his half-century off his 111th ball faced, atonement for failing in the first innings.

Lunch: India 250 & 260/5 (Pujara 71, Rahane 57*) lead Australia 235 by 275 runs