Despite an inspired spell of bowling from Josh Hazlewood, and the pressure of stitching a better batting performance after three successful failures, India’s batsmen (Cheteshwar Pujara in particular) steered the ship towards safety, passing the match into a potentially absorbing fourth day.
The first session started with Ravindra Jadeja, who was under-bowled on the previous day, breaking the back of Australia’s lower order and ending with a six-wicket haul. Mitchell Starc and Matthew Wade, who started the day positively, collecting singles with ease and building on the lead.
After a flurry of wickets restricted the lead to 87, the Indian batsmen had to put up a sound response to stay in the hunt in the series. The start was provided by KL Rahul, who completed 1000 runs in Test cricket enroute to a half-century, but was undone by a sensational bit of catching by Steve Smith at first slip, kickstarting a chain reaction of quick wickets. It was left to the dependable duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to rebuild the innings, and they did it with aplomb.
After the day’s play, KL Rahul talked about his innings:
“It was a little bit easier to bat today. The pitch was a bit damp in the first innings, but today’s wicket was the best to bat on. I have played all my cricket here and I know on the
fourth day the pitch is going to do some tricks, so I wanted to cash in.
We did try to rotate the strike, and there was clear intent use our feet and rotate the strike. Their fielders were back, so scoring boundaries was difficult. It is disappointing to get starts and not converting them, but I am happy with the way I have contributed. The (Rahane-Pujara) partnership was excellent, and hope if they can continue. 100 more runs will be gold. On the fourth day, the cracks start picking up. The longer we bat it is going to be hard for Australia”.
Here’s how the cricketing fraternity reacted to India’s comeback:
Technique doesn't slow you down, it liberates you. Rahul showing it in B'lore. Kamaal Lajwaab Rahul. #INDvsAUS— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) March 6, 2017
Good to see @cheteshwar1 among the runs. There is something immensely likeable about him— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 6, 2017
Brilliant resolve from Pujara & Rahane. This pitch needed the old fashioned Test match grafting. And that's what they did. .— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) March 6, 2017
This is an exceptional innings from Pujara.Test match is about playing out sessions and Rahane&Pujara have kept India in the game.#INDvsAUS— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) March 6, 2017
Wow, what a gripping test, India showing their class in challenging conditions. Game on!! #IndvAus— Tom Moody (@TomMoodyCricket) March 6, 2017
Superb batting in final session by Pujara & Rahane, two players who make big difference to the team even if they hardly make headlines— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) March 6, 2017