Cheteshwar Pujara appeared in sublime touch on Saturday as he notched his 11th century in Test cricket to guide India closer to Australia's first innings total of 451. The hosts ended the third day's play at 360/6, trailing the visitors by 91 runs in the third Test, being played at the JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi. Pacer Pat Cummins was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors as he picked up four crucial wickets, including that of India captain Virat Kohli, on Saturday.
India resumed the day at 120/1 with Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease. Lokesh Rahul had scored a splendid half-century on Friday before getting out for 67 just before stumps.
Vijay and Pujara batted really well in the morning session to add 102 runs for the second wicket with the former scoring his 15th half-century in Tests. But Vijay tried to go for a big one just before tea to be stumped for 82 with India going to lunch for 193/2.
Pujara continued his onslaught to bring up his half-century and then his 11th Test hundred but kept running out of partners.
Kohli (6), Ajinkya Rahane (14), Karun Nair (23) and Ravichandran Ashwin (3) all departed cheaply or after getting starts and it was left to Pujara to handle the Indian innings from the other end.
Kohli, who turned out to bat at his regular No.4 spot laying to rest any injury concerns, could only last 23 balls before edging a catch to his opposite number Steve Smith at second slip.
The star batsman had injured his right shoulder after an awkward fall while fielding during Australia's innings on Thursday and stayed off the field for 400 minutes before taking crease.
But Pujara did not let the momentum slip in his 47th match as the hosts went to tea at 303/4, still trailing Australia by 148 runs in their first innings with Nair batting alongside Pujara.
While India lost Kohli and Rahane in the second session, Nair and Ashwin got out in the last stint of the day.
Cummins, who is playing only his second Test and that too after a gap of six years, was on target right from the start to pick up four wickets and being Australia's main bowler on Saturday.
The absence of the injured Mitchell Starc really bothered Australia on Saturday as fast bowler Josh Hazlewood and spinner Steve O'Keefe could only manage a wicket each. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon went wicket-less on Day 3.
India ended on 360/6 with Pujara and wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha batting on 130 and 18 respectively.
The four-match series is evenly poised at 1-1.
(With inputs from AFP)