Marsh, Handscomb keep Australia's hopes alive in Ranchi

Doug Mendoza
March 20, 2017

The top-ranked Test nation declared at 9-603 on Sunday.

So, the credit must go to Australia's bowling, and Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha did quite brilliantly to show the kind of patience they did, when throwing away their wickets would have been a lot easier.

Handscomb's best previous score in the series had been 24 but he was completely composed as he raised his third test half century.

"They [Handscomb and Marsh] backed their defence for long periods of time and to see the game out for as long as they did was an outstanding performance".

Contrary to Pujara's efforts, most of the other Indian batsmen lost their wickets as a result of sheer lapse in concentration. Jadeja, operating over the wicket, pitched the ball just about enough on leg, which Smith tried to pad.

When Pujara and Saha were batting well in tandem, the Aussies needed a spark of brilliance on the field to lift themselves up in tough conditions.

Left-arm spinner O'Keefe bowled a staggering 67 overs for his one wicket, highlighting the tourists' struggle on the penultimate day. "I'm sure they're hurting a little bit in their change room".

Tensions are already running high.

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For the Australian squad the day remained fruitful with Cummins taking four wickets and Hazelwood one.

Australian skipper Steve Smith on Monday (March 20) said they were a few runs short in the first innings against India in the third cricket Test match here.

But Pujara, who scored a sublime 202 along with Saha's 117, was up to the task and used the classic retort to the touring tearaway when he was confronted on day four. Handscomb looked solid in his unbeaten 44 from 115 balls (3x4), while Marsh was equally resolute in his 127-ball 38.

210 Overs batted by India - their fourth-longest Test innings and the second longest in last 55 years.

Next in, Rahane looked good during his brief stay but failed to repeat the kind of partnership which he and Pujara displayed to save the second Test in Bengaluru.

Australia will have plenty of exhausted legs in the pavilion, with Steve O'Keefe having sent down a mammoth 77 overs, returning a manful three for 199, while seamers Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins bowled 44 and 39 respectively.

Speaking after the match, Kohli said the hosts had given it their all and the series was now set for a riveting finale, with Test cricket's two top-ranked teams due to resume battle in Dharamsala next Saturday.

O'Keefe finally made the breakthrough the ball before the lunch break, tempting Vijay to wander down the pitch before missing a straight ball to allow Matthew Wade to smartly whip off the bails. It's comfortably the most important innings of his short career.

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