India on course for a big win in second Test

Hyderabad: Cheteshwar Pujara struck his second Test double century to ensure a huge first-innings lead as hosts India took a stranglehold of the second Test against a hapless Australia here on Monday.

Pujara’s masterly knock of 204 and his record 370-run partnership with Murali Vijay (167) helped India pile up a commanding 503, giving the hosts a lead of 266 runs on the third day.

Such was the impact of the Pujara-Vijay effort that India managed to cross the 500-run mark despite losing their last nine wickets for only 116 runs.

With a huge cushion under their belt, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed David Warner (26) and Phillip Hughes (0) in quick succession as Australia finished the day at a shaky 74 for two in their second innings.

Both Warner and Hughes were guilty of trying to sweep Ashwin deliveries, which pitched on the leg-stump before disturbing their stumps.

At the close of play, Australia required another 192 runs to avoid an innings defeat, and MS Dhoni and company going 2-0 up in the four-match series seemed inevitable.

While Sunday belonged to Vijay and Pujara, the duo did its bit on the third day as they frustrated a lacklustre Australian attack which looked clueless and waiting for the batsmen to make mistakes.

While Vijay hit 23 fours and two sixes in his 361-ball knock, Pujara’s splendid knock, in 341 balls, was laced with 30 fours and a six.

Pujara reached his double hundred when he came down the track to whip Glenn Maxwell through the mid-wicket boundary.

The duo eclipsed the 34-year-old second wicket partnership record of 344 runs set by Sunil Gavaskar (182) and Dilip Vengsarkar (157) against the West Indies at Kolkata in 1978.

In the morning, it took nearly 25 overs for Australia to get a breakthrough as Vijay gloved an off-break from Maxwell to Ed Cowan at backward short-leg, giving the debutant his maiden Test wicket.

With the pitch getting slower, James Pattinson’s bouncers were also losing their sting, even as Pujara completed another personal landmark of reaching 1,000 Test runs.

Pujara became the second fastest in terms of innings to reach the landmark in 18 knocks – second to Vinod Kambli, who had made it in 14 appearances.

Once the Pujara-Vijay partnership was broken, India lost wickets in a heap, with the last six batsmen falling for only 43 runs.

Skipper Dhoni played a cameo, smashing 44 off 43 balls while adding 56 runs for the fifth wicket with Virat Kohli (34).

But the lower middle-order batsmen were snapped out in a jiffy. Debutant all-rounder Maxwell was the most successful bowler, grabbing four for 127. (PTI)