A record breaking performance from the Indian batsmen, followed by two quick strikes at the fag end of the fourth day's play, means India find themselves in a commanding position in the third Test match against Australia at Ranchi.
India replied to Australia's first innings total of 451 with a mountain of runs. The home team’s charge was led by Cheteshwar Pujara and useful contributions from Wriddhiman Saha and Ravindra Jadeja.
Pujara, 130 at the start of the fourth day's play, gave Australia no chances whatsoever and brought up his third double century in Test cricket. Incidentally, he has two centuries in Test matches against Australia – and he has converted both those hundreds to double centuries.
Pujara's 202 shattered the record books during the course of his marathon knock. He walked out to bat in the 32nd over and stayed at the crease until the 194th over. During his stay in the middle, he consumed 525 deliveries – or 87.3 overs – which is the longest any Indian batsman has ever batted. In fact, Pujara became the first Indian to bat for more than 500 deliveries in a Test innings.
As a result of his double hundred in Ranchi, Pujara has now become the highest run-getter in Test matches this season.
If Pujara stood like an impenetrable fort and appeared to be batting as if he was in a trance, at the other end Wriddhiman Saha kept himself busy and helped himself to a third Test hundred.
Together, the pair added 199 runs which is India's highest seventh wicket partnership in Test matches against Australia. When the pair got together, India were 328-6 – still 123 runs behind Australia's first innings total. By the time they were separated, India were 76 runs ahead and in a position from where they could call the shots.
There was no respite for Australia even after Pujara and Saha were dismissed. Ravindra Jadeja then took control of proceedings and helped himself to a half-century. When the Indian captain declared his team’s first innings closed, Jadeja remained unbeaten on 54 – scored from 55 balls, decorated with four boundaries and two hits over the fence.
Jadeja – courtesy his half-century here and his 5-wicket haul earlier in the match –became only the fourth Indian cricketer to do the innings double of scoring 50 runs and taking 5 wickets in Tests against Australia.