Pujara-Rahane stand gives India a 126-run lead vs Australia

March 6, 2017
India's Cheteshwar Pujara, right, and Ajinkya Rahane leave the field at the end of day's play on the third day of their second test cricket match against Australia in Bangalore, India, Monday, March 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

BANGALORE, India (AP) — Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane combined in a 93-run stand for the fifth wicket to help India reach 213-4 at stumps Monday, giving the hosts a 126-run lead and the momentum in the second test against Australia.

Pujara was unbeaten on 79 and Rahane was not out 40 at the end of the third day.

Australia had all the momentum in the series until the last session on Monday, when Pujara and Rahane took a positive approach to both pace and spin, using good footwork to negotiate the bowling attack.

“The match is still hanging in the balance,” India assistant coach Sanjay Bangar said. “We need to bat two more sessions tomorrow, and get a few more runs. We have recovered from the setback of not putting on too many runs in the first innings.”

Australia won the first test by 333 runs at Pune and bowled India out for 189 on Day 1 at Bangalore despite losing the toss.

The Australians resumed on Day 3 at 237-6 and extended the first-innings lead to 87 before being dismissed for 276 in reply, with India’s left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja adding three wickets in the morning session to his three on Sunday and returning 6-63 for the innings.

Josh Hazlewood took 3-37 as India slumped to 120-4 in its second innings as Australia worked hard to limit India’s total in a bid to make for a comfortable run chase.

But Pujara and Rahane were resilient, and India survived a session unscathed for the first time in the series.

First, they helped India cross 150 in the 49th over. Pujara then reached his 14th test half-century off 125 balls. Overall, he faced 173 deliveries and hit six fours.

The pair rotated the strike with ease and their 50-partnership came up off 110 balls. They took took India past 200 — for the first time in the series — in the 68th over as the lead started swelling on an uneven wicket.

Their partnership was the highest of this series to date.

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