Pujara, Rahane keep India afloat in 2nd Test

Pujara, Rahane keep India afloat in 2nd Test

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India’s Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane run between the wickets as Australia’s Josh Hazlewood looks on during the second Test at Bengaluru. — Reuters
India’s Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane run between the wickets as Australia’s Josh Hazlewood looks on during the second Test at Bengaluru. — Reuters

BENGALURU — Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 93 to keep alive India’s hopes of a series-leveling win over Australia, giving the hosts a lead of 126 on a see-saw third day of the second Test on Monday.

India’s chances appeared slim when paceman Josh Hazlewood’s triple strike helped Australia reduce them to 120 for four before tea and the touring side looked favorites to take a 2-0 lead in the four-match series.

But Pujara and Rahane batted through the final session to ensure India will set them a decent target to chase on a difficult pitch. At close of play, Pujara was unbeaten on 79 with Rahane on 40 to take India, who lost the opening Test of the four-match series by 333 runs, to 213 for four.

ScorecardEarlier, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja took six for 63 as India fought back to dismiss the tourists for 276 in the morning session before Hazlewood’s haul swung the Test back in Australia’s favor. The paceman struck in the first over after lunch to send back opener Abhinav Mukund and returned late in the session to dismiss India captain Virat Kohli in a huge setback for the home side.

India promoted Jadeja up the order to make a left-right batting combination but he scored just two before the 26-year-old Hazlewood clean bowled him. Mukund’s first Test in almost six years ended on a sorry note as his off-stump was uprooted for 16 following a first- innings duck.

Fellow opener Lokesh Rahul completed his second fifty of the match before he fell for 51 to left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe, Australia captain Steve Smith completing a flying, one-handed grab at slip.

Pujara, who was dropped on four by Smith off Nathan Lyon, and Kohli initially batted without much trouble before the latter was given out lbw for 15. Kohli reviewed the decision immediately and despite several replays, it could not be determined if he had hit the ball before it struck his pad and the umpire’s decision was upheld.

The day started with Australia resuming on 237-6, a lead of 48, and the tourists added 32 runs before losing their last four wickets for seven runs.

India were looking to race through Australia’s lower order but left-handers Matthew Wade and Mitchell Starc kept them at bay for the first 45 minutes.
The Australians dealt well with the threat of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin before Starc perished for 26, holing out to a brilliant catch from Jadeja on the deep mid-wicket boundary to trigger a collapse.

Kohli finally brought on Jadeja in the ninth over of the day and the left-armer Jadeja trapped Wade leg before for 40 and repeated the feat with his next ball to Lyon to complete his seventh five-wicket haul in tests.
Hazlewood denied Jadeja (6-63) his hat-trick but soon became the 28-year-old’s sixth victim.

BCCI ex-chief apologizes over court contempt

The Indian cricket board’s former president Anurag Thakur gave an “unconditional apology” Monday to the Supreme Court which had ordered his dismissal from the game’s most powerful body in January.

Thakur faces a court petition later this month for allegedly obstructing the implementation of a series of recommendations from a panel led by a retired judge to reform the administration of the board.

But at a session of court where the date for the full hearing was set for April 17, Thakur’s lawyer P. S. Patwalia read a statement in which his client “tendered my unconditional and unqualified apology”. “I had not intended to file any false information,” the statement added, which was delivered by Patwalia as Thakur sat alongside him.

Thakur was dismissed at the start of the year after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) consistently stalled on implementing the reforms proposed by a former top judge, Rajendra Mal Lodha, and which had been endorsed by the court. The proposals included setting age and term limits on office bearers within the board.

India’s Supreme Court has since appointed a top anti-corruption troubleshooter, Vinod Rai, as head of a team to oversee the running of the powerful cricket board.  Cricket’s massive popularity in India has helped the BCCI become by far the wealthiest of all of the sport’s national boards, netting massive money from sponsorship and TV deals.

But it has also been embroiled in a series of scandals, including accusations of corruption and match-fixing that tarnished the Indian Premier League (IPL) — the board’s lucrative Twenty20 competition.

A corruption and match-fixing scandal in the sixth edition of the IPL in 2013 brought about the downfall of the board’s then-president Narayanaswami Srinivasan after his son-in-law was accused of betting on matches.

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