India resumed at 98-2 from Day 4 with 309 runs needed to win. It did not go well at the start. When Ajinkya Rahane struggled with his footwork. And edged straight to Matthew Wade at short leg.
That ended up in a dismal spell from the fill-in skipper on four. As Nathan Lyon gets his 1st wicket of the day. And 90th overall throughout his Test career. But it is India who won this session alone. Not only Cheteshwar Pujara blocks every good ball v the Australians. Pujara also lended his new partner the need for thrill. As well as topped up the runs when he feels like it.
That new man in the middle is Rishabh Pant. Having played through a painful elbow. It fortunately did not affect his ability to dismantle the bowlers. Even though Pant is hitting downtown using the white ball tactics. It is the movement that helped him gather the correct shots. As Pant used the bowler mentally. Before threw away these balls with superior placement. And can get away with the Australian fielding mistakes. It benefited his natural game with his quick half-ton.
India are on 206-3 with just under 200 runs needed to win. Pant still remains not out on 73. While Pujara may have blocked 173 balls for the majority. But doing his best to keep his wicket on 41. Australia only needs seven wickets to win. They do need to find a solution ASAP to get Pant & Pujara out. Before it is too late. They missed two good changes to get Pant out from Tim Paine behind him. It can not happen again to make them score runs.
Pant and Pujara stayed on a little longer with their usual approaches. But that stand came to a end by Australia. As Lyon once again took his 2nd scalp that denied Pant his possible 100 on 97. Maybe the right loft shot. But the balance is too far away where Pant reached for the ball. And knicked straight to Pat Cummins at point.
India are not out of the race yet on 250-4 with 157 runs needed to win. Pujara also scored back to back 50s. Even it takes a lot longer. Josh Hazlewood however finally got Pujara out on 77. Pujara was fuzzed by this straight ball delivery with spice by Hazlewood. And did nothing to move where it smashed the off stump. India are 280-5 with 127 runs to win as well as the series. Hanuma Vihari remains on 4. While Ravi Ashwin is on seven replacing Pujara.
The current pair held on with grit and determination until the very end. Both Vihari (23) and Ashwin (39) may not have the best batting strength. But they at least blocked as many balls as possible until the end of Day 5. And denied Australia the chance to win with no conclusion from both sides. But it does not mean a series winner is decided just yet. We will wait and see during the 4th & Final game starting on Friday in Brisbane.
The only strength Australia did well today is from the spin king Nathan Lyon. He bowled well with the reading of the batsman’s weaknesses. And used those areas to make them play a loose shot. So does the batting beforehand. Especially with Steve Smith rised from poor form in the first two Tests to a comeback 100. As well as debut 50s for both Will Pucovski (1st innings) & Cam Green (3rd innings).
But the quicks did not add much effort unfortunately. They lack the fire under their belly. At least to scare the rest of the India batting card. So does the areas they struggle as usual. None of that happen often throughout today. So does the missed changes on the field. And it cost the momentum going to the 4th Test. India may have a few in the treatment room right now. But it does not mean Australia is guaranteed to win this Test series.
India on the other hand played a inspiring battle of cricket. They did lose the toss this time. And had to watch the Aussies do their best in the middle. Making stroke after stroke which saw them struggle in return with the bat. Then it went from bad to worse when Rishabh Pant & Ravi Jadeja receive nasty blows. One on the elbow as well as another on the thumb.
But they came out of nowhere after they find out the 407 run target. And you got Pujara blocking like almost 150-200 balls in his spell. I mean that is incredible not because he wants to keep his wicket. He wants to lift the spirits up for India. That approach help his other partner Rishabh Pant take his turn. And this boy played around with oozes of shots everywhere that touched the rope. I got to say Rishabh was the saviour. Even though playing with a very painful elbow. I do not know how long Pant will recover. But India need him back ASAP for the 4th Test.