"It Is Not Enough But...:" Cheteshwar Pujara's Cautious Optimism Despite Australia Chasing Just 76
Nathan Lyon's eight-wicket haul helped Australia skittle out India for 163 runs in the second inning, leaving the visitors just 76 runs away from a win in the third Test
At the end of second day's of play in the ongoing third Test against Australia in Indore, India batter Cheteshwar Pujara said that the surface was difficult to bat on and one needs to trust their defence, get to the pitch of the ball and judge the length early. Nathan Lyon's eight-wicket haul helped Australia skittle out India for 163 runs in the second inning, leaving the visitors just 76 runs away from a win in the third Test at the Holkar Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
"It is a tough pitch to bat on. It is not easy and you need to trust your defence, you need to make sure to get to the pitch of the ball and try to judge the length early," said Pujara after the end of the day's play.
He said that though a target of 76 runs is not enough, there is still a chance to win for India and added that a right balance between attack and defence is needed on such pitches.
"I know it is not enough but still, there is a chance (to win). You need to do that on such pitches, if you keep defending then there is one ball which will bounce and hit your glove, you need to find the right balance between attack and defence. Whenever I got a loose delivery I tried to put it away. When he (Lyon) bowled round the wicket, his line changed a bit, he was bowling middle and leg-stump line rather than on off-stump, I just wanted to rotate the strike," said the middle-order veteran.
"I wanted to hit it to square leg but because of the slowness of the surface, it took the ball to leg slip. It was a brilliant catch by Smith. Bit disappointed, the way things were coming along.. a partnership with Axar, we could have gotten a few more. I am learning few more shots and if there is a situation or demand then you get few quick runs, I have been working on that and I am confident that whenever it is needed I can play the (big) shot," concluded Pujara.
India could only bat for 60.3 overs in the second innings of the third Test, with Pujara waging a lone battle for the hosts before a rampant Nathan Lyon took eight wickets for just 64 runs.
The hosts resumed their innings on 79/4 after Tea with Cheteshwar Pujara on 36* and Shreyas Iyer still to open his account, trailing by 9 runs.
India started the session positively with Iyer smashing a six while Pujara whipped the ball for a boundary off Matthew Kuhnemann in the second over after lunch.
Iyer took the attack to the Aussie bowlers, putting them under pressure with aggressive shots turning the momentum towards the host.
The right-hander clubbed Nathan Lyon for two consecutive boundaries and launched Kuhnemann for a thunderous six over mid-wicket and a boundary in the next over, bringing the Aussie bowlers under the pump.
Pujara and Iyer were flourishing in the third session but Steve Smith brought Mitchell Starc into the attack after Kuhnemann leaked runs.
The move worked wonders for the visitors as the pacer was able to get rid of Iyer. The right-hand batter played an aerial shot towards mid-wicket but Usman Khawaja pocketed a brilliant catch to draw curtains on the batter's innings.
Iyer played a quick-fire cameo of 26 from 27 balls, stitching a 35 run-stand with Pujara for the fifth wicket.
Srikar Bharat followed cheaply adding just three runs to the total. Lyon bowled a peach to beat the batter's outside edge and hit the top of the off-stump dismissing him for 3(8).
Ravichandran Ashwin and Pujara did provide resilience to the visitor's rampant attack to stitch a 22-run-stand for the seventh wicket.
India's crisis man Pujara brought up his half-century, waging a lone battle against the Aussie bowlers, holding up one end.
However, the wickets continued to fumble and Ashwin fell to Lyon for 16(28). The wicket brought up the spinner's fifer in the second inning, reducing India to 140/7.
A freak catch from Steve Smith saw the back of Pujara after a superb knock from the Saurashtra batter. The right-hander played a resilient knock of 59 runs.
It was one-way traffic from thereon as the hosts lost their last two wickets inside eight runs. The Aussie bowlers bundled out the hosts for 163 runs, needing 76 runs in the second innings for the victory.
Nathan Lyon registered his best figures in India scalping eight Indian batsmen and giving away just 64 runs.