HUBLI: Cheteshwar Pujara’s third first-class triple century allowed India ‘A’ to assume control of the third and final unofficial ‘Test’ against West Indies ‘A’, and took the hosts closer to equalizing a series they trail by a one-match deficit.
Pujara resumed on an overnight 139 and had swelled his tally to an unbeaten 306 when he decided to declare on 564/9 – for a first innings lead of 296 and almost four sessions in which to bowl out the visitors. West Indies ‘A’ were 116/3 at close, a deficit of 180, with the home side’s pacers – Zaheer Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni and Ishwar Pandey – picking up one apiece.
But the day belonged to the Indian captain, for an innings that was played out in distinct phases. Pujara accumulated 60 in the first session, received a life on 198 when he was dropped by Ashley Nurse at slip in the last over before lunch, and hit top gear after resumption as he smashed 107 of the 142 scored in the middle session. The Saurashtra batsman’s last 71 runs came off just 55 balls and he thoroughly dominated a series of lower-order unions, his partners at the other end happily consigned to watching Pujara at work.
When on 299, Pujara tided over a huge appeal for leg-before from left-arm pacer Delorn Johnson. But a magnificent cover drive later, the 25-year-old was on his third first class triple ton. He became only the second Indian (after Ravindra Jadeja) and ninth batsman overall to have scored three first class triples. The declaration arrived soon and India’s bowlers kept up their part of the bargain.
Zaheer and Pandey trapped the openers Kieran Powell (6) and Kraigg Brathwaite (26) leg-before, and Kulkarni bowled the first-innings hero Leon Johnson (1) to reduce the visitors to 57/3. Narsingh Deonarine and Assad Fudadin retaliated with an unbroken 59-run stand for the fourth wicket, and at close West Indies 'A' trailed by 180, seven wickets and an entire day of survival ahead of them.
Brief scores: West Indies 'A' 268 and 116/3 (Deonarine 44*, Fudadin 36*) vs India 'A' 564/9 decl. in 150 overs (Gambhir 123, Pujara 306*, Nurse 3/106).
Also read: Day 1
Also read : Day 2