Murali Vijay hit his 15th half-century on Day 3 of the third India vs Australia Test in Ranchi.
Australia snared the vital wicket of Murali Vijay on the cusp of lunch to spoil a good session for India as the hosts reached 193/2 at the first break on the third day of the third Test here on Saturday. Cheteshwar Pujara was unbeaten on 40.
India added only 73 runs to their overnight score of 120/1 but with Virat Kohli waiting impatiently inside the dressing room, this session was more about preparing a base to go after Australia. Vijay’s wicket though spoiled almost a perfect session. After toiling unchanged for 12 overs from the pavilion end, Steve O’Keefe changed ends in the 69th over to reap his reward second over into his spell.
Vijay clearly had the edge over O’Keefe after sweeping him through midwicket for a boundary in only his previous over. He had even lifted the left-arm spinner for a huge six over long-on in the second over of the day by jumping down the crease. But trying the same with minutes to go for lunch was Vijay’s pitfall. Vijay again skipped down the crease but O’Keefe’s delivery went straight between his pad and bat to lead to an easy stumping.
This was the leanest session in terms of runs so far in the Test but India were probably looking to score more quickly in the afternoon session. Not starting with two pacers perhaps wasn’t the best tactic from Australia. With Josh Hazlewood bowling straight but not express, all Pujara and Vijay had to do was play close to the body.
Earlier, O’Keefe had managed to convince his captain Steve Smith to get a review on an lbw appeal against Pujara in the 58th over. The ball didn’t turn as much but Pujara was probably saved by the inside edge, leaving Australia with no more reviews and still 22 overs to go before it got topped up. When the decision was confirmed, Virat Kohli couldn’t hide his excitement as he came out on the dressing room balcony to cheer for Pujara.
Both Vijay and Pujara looked comfortable as Australia didn’t try to push their button too much. O’Keefe adhered to a strict corridor but there wasn’t much turn from the pitch to trouble Vijay or Pujara. Pujara was expectedly slower of the two but India were clearly in no rush. In between Pat Cummins tried going full throttle but couldn’t make much headway past Pujara and Vijay’s confident defence. Nathan Lyon was given seven overs before Hazelwood swapped ends to come back with O’Keefe who finally got the breakthrough Australia desperately wanted.