Millennium Post

Twin strike puts India on top

India gained firm control of the second cricket Test against Australia despite crashing from 387 for one to 503 all out in reply to the visitors’ first innings score of 237 for nine declared at Uppal on Monday.

By stumps on the third day, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin pushed the Australians down the slippery slope by bowling David Warner (26) and Phil Hughes (0) round the legs as Aussies finished the day at 74 for two. The visitors still need 192 runs to make India bat again in the match.  Ed Cowan (26) and Shane Watson (nine) will resume the long haul on the fourth day.

Earlier, Cheteshwar Pujara (204) scored his second double century and Murali Vijay hit 167 and their 370-run stand fell 12 runs short of the existing record for the second wicket against Australia set by England’s Len Hutton and Maurice Leyland in 1938.

Pujara struck 30 fours and a six in his 341-ball innings while Vijay struck 23 fours and two sixes during his 361-ball stay. Debutant offspinner Glenn Maxwell finally found some assistance from the pitch as well as his colleagues in the field to break the Pujara-Vijay stand and also run through the middle-order by removing skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (44), Ravindra Jadeja (10) and Virat Kohli (34). Left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty (3-131) wrapped up the tail. Maxwell got one to bounce and turn sharply to force Vijay to fend and offer a simple catch to backward short-leg.

Pujara got to his double century in style, charging down to Maxwell and flicked the ball through mid-on and mid-wicket for four. He punched the air and hugged Tendulkar as the stadium gave a standing ovation to the Rajkot boy. But Pujara couldn’t carry on and in the next over his hook off James Pattinson saw Xavier Doherty taking a brilliant diving catch at long leg. Things got worse in the second session as the last seven wickets fell for 110 runs and India had to settle for a 266-run lead after looking like heading for much more.

Sachin Tendulkar (7) fell in the second over after lunch as he tried to play James Pattinson (2-80) down the leg but his edge ended up in Matthew Wade’s gloves. The Australians made a strong appeal for a caught behind and an unsure Marias Erasmus after consulting the third umpire raised his finger.

Dhoni and Kohli then joined forces to stabilise the middle-order but the 56-run stand ended when Dhoni failed to clear mid-off where Doherty juggled to take the catch in his second attempt. Jadeja followed soon, this time with Maxwell taking an excellent catch off his own bowling.
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