The start of the day saw Australia looking to wrap up the last four wickets of India’s first innings. By tea there was even a bit of drizzle in the air and the overhead dullness must have been soaking into the Australians who hadn’t been able to take a single wicket in two sessions.
Eventually, having made 202, Cheteshwar Pujara chipped a gentle, tired catch to short mid-wicket. It was a success for Nathan Lyon, his first wicket since his 8-50 in the first innings of the previous Test. Pujara had added 199 runs for the seventh wicket with Wriddhiman Saha who, as so often happens after a big partnership, fell soon afterwards for 117 his third Test hundred.
“Pujara always backed me to play my shots,” Saha said. “Told me to be positive. I had the same approach here. I played in a positive sense so it came out well.”
Australia had sent down 210 overs by the time Virat Kohli declared at 9-603, the most they have ever bowled in an innings in Asia and more than they have had to bowl against any team since 1975.
“When you bowl 210 overs, I don’t think that’s happened too often, and India do that well - they bat long periods of time here in India,” Australian coach Darren Lehmann said. “If anything it heightens our first innings where we needed to bat a little bit longer but the bowlers worked really hard and I thought they were fantastic.”
Steve Smith didn’t turn to his part-time bowlers. Glenn Maxwell only bowled four overs while neither vice-captain David Warner nor the captain himself had a bowl. Nearly all the work was carried out by four players with Steve O’Keefe sending down 77 overs.
“I think captain’s call obviously,” Lehmann said. “We did speak about it, chopping and changing a little bit. The game was always on a knife’s edge so you always want your best spinners going.”
Kohli’s declaration ensured that his bowlers could have a few overs while the Australians’ minds were fatigued. It paid dividends. There were eight overs left for the batsman to face at the end of a gruelling two days in the field. There were a couple of close calls before Ravi Jadeja produced a beauty that turned and flattened Warner’s stumps.
Smith didn’t want part of the action and sent in Nathan Lyon as his night watchman. He did his job by protecting his captain from having to enter the fray with the crowd baying for wickets and India appealing for the every possibility of a dismissal. He succumbed to the first ball of the final over of the day with Jadeja again hitting the stumps.
Jadeja is clearly the danger for Australia having already taken five wickets in the first innings.
“(We are) Going to have to come up with a plan to combat Jadeja but we’ve worked on that and you’ll probably see it tomorrow I would think,” Lehmann said.
India finished the day on 2-23 and still trailing by 129 runs.
“There's no real demons in the track it's about us applying ourselves as Pujara and Saha did today,” Lehmann said. “They've (the Australian players) done a lot of practice in those sort of conditions, I am really confident they can do the job tomorrow. We will see how we go."