Pujara leads India's revival against Australia in second Test

Faisal KAMAL
1 / 3
India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara plays a shot as Australia wicket keeper Matthew Wade looks on during third day of the second Test at The M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on March 6, 2017

Australian seamer Josh Hazlewood Monday acknowledged the second Test hung in the balance after India's Cheteshwar Pujara hit an unbeaten half-century to lead the hosts' fightback on day three in Bangalore.

The hosts were 213 for four at stumps, leading Australia by 126 runs in their second innings after the tourists' hopes of building a big lead were undermined by an oustanding bowling performance from Ravindra Jadeja.

Pujara on 79 and Ajinkya Rahane on 40 were batting at close of play. Hazlewood claimed three wickets.

The pair put together a stubborn 93-run partnership for the fifth wicket to lift India from a wobbly 120-4 at Bangalore's M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

"It feels pretty level at the moment. They fought back really well in that last session," Hazlewood told reporters.

"Credit to the two guys out there. They stuck to their plans and scratched away for quite a bit of amount of runs," Hazlewood said after India scored 91 runs in the last session without losing a wicket.

Pujara led the way with his controlled knock as he kept a persistent Australian attack at bay, prompting skipper Steve Smith to rotate his bowling options.

Rahane was equally resolute in his resolve to give the visitors a daunting fourth innings chase. He hardly played a loose shot during his 105-ball stay.

The 29-year-old Pujara, who recorded his 14th Test fifty in his 46th Test, capitalised on a dropped chance by Smith at first slip off Nathan Lyon when he was on four.

Off-spinner Lyon, who had grabbed a career-best Test haul of 8-50 in the first innings, went wicketless on a day when Indian spinner Jadeja claimed six wickets.

Hazlewood though praised his team's spinners after Lyon gave away just 69 runs in his 27 overs and Steve O'Keefe got the key wicket of opener Lokesh Rahul (51).

- Kohli's big wicket -

"I think the spinners bowled really well again," he said.

Hazlewood rattled the Indian top-order with his three wickets, including the prized scalp of skipper Virat Kohli in the afternoon session.

Hazlewood trapped Kohli lbw for 15 with a shooting inswinger and a review did not help the star batsman as he walked back to a stunned silence.

"I think it's hard work scoring runs on these couple of wickets. So you just have to stick to your plans against him and we've been quite successful," said Hazlewood on keeping Kohli down to just 40 runs in his four innings of the series so far.

India's move to promote all-rounder Jadeja up the batting order also backfired when the left-hander was bowled by Hazlewood for two to leave the hosts reeling at tea.

India's troubles began when opener Rahul fell to left-arm spinner O'Keefe after hitting his third Test fifty.

Rahul, who top-scored with 90 in India's first innings, put on 45 with Pujara after Abhinav Mukund (16) was bowled by Hazlewood early in the lunch session.

O'Keefe lured Rahul into a drive outside off stump and a diving Smith took a brilliant one-handed catch at first slip.

In the morning session, left-arm spinner Jadeja returned with figures of 6-63 to help dismiss Australia for 276 in their first innings, a lead of 87.

India's batting coach Sanjay Bangar praised the team's ability to bounce back, insisting it remains a tough battle between two top sides.

"We fought really well over the past two days after having a setback of not scoring enough runs (189) in the first innings," Bangar said.

"All in all it is very hard Test match. What lies ahead could be exhilirating stuff. If India can put up a better show with the bat for the next two sessions we are likely to have our nose ahead."

Australia lead the four-match series 1-0 after humbling the hosts in the first match in Pune.