Adelaide, Dec 8 (IANS) Skipper Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara came up with a steady partnership as India put themselves in a strong position after the third day of the opening cricket Test against Australia here on Saturday.
The visitors posted 151/3 in their second innings at stumps and have a lead of 166 runs. At the end of the day, Pujara was batting on 40 while Ajinkya Rahane was on 1.
Coming together after the fall of openers Lokesh Rahul (44) and Murali Vijay (18), Pujara and Kohli added 71 runs between them to give India a platform from which they now have the chance to win the Test.
Kohli, who lost his wicket to a somewhat careless shot in the first innings, employed a much more careful approach in his second essay.
The Indian captain was well on his way to what would have been a well deserved half-century when he was outfoxed by some extra turn from off-spinner Natha Lyon just before stumps. This is the sixth time Lyon has dismissed Kohli in the longest format of the game, the most in world cricket.
Kohli, who scored 34 runs off 104 deliveries, had tried to defend on the front foot. But the extra turn saw the ball take the edge of the bat before nestling in the hands of a delighted Aaron Finch at short leg.
Pujara, on the other hand, resumed from where he left in the first innings. The Saurashtra batsman, who was run out after posting a gritty century in the first innings, put on yet another tenacious batting display and looks set to register a big score.
For Australia, apart from Lyon, fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood also picked up a wicket each.
Earlier, India lost both openers after a steady start to reach 86/2 in their second innings and stretch their lead to 101 runs at tea.
At the breather, Pujara (11 not out) and Kohli (2 not out) went back undefeated after the fall of openers Vijay and Rahul.
After gaining a slender 15-run first innings lead, Vijay and Rahul gave the visitors a slow-but-steady 63-run start and more importantly denied the home pacers early inroads on a rain-affected day.
Despite the initial run-rate going at just over 1 run per over, both Vijay and Rahul didn’t attempt any silly shots and played the ball to its merit, until Rahul broke the shackles with a boundary by the 10th over.
The Bengaluru right-hander continued the onslaught by dispatching Pat Cummins for a massive six and a couple of boundaries even as Vijay struggled to find his feet.
The partnership soon flourished past the 50-run mark before left-armer Mitchell Starc got Vijay to drive a wide delivery outside the off-stump, only to find a thick edge that landed into the hands of Peter Handscomb at second slip.
The fall of Vijay brought in the first innings centurion Pujara, who started off in his trademark fashion before getting a life on 8 when a DRS review saved him from caught behind charge from off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
Rahul, on the other hand, failed to cash on the reprieve he got early in his innings, before being dismissed caught behind off Josh Hazlewood.
With just an over to go for the tea break, skipper Kohli joined Pujara in the middle and the pair saw the team to safety before heading to the dressing room.
During the truncated first session, Australia resumed the day at 191/7 but pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami soon cleaned up the remaining three wickets with the addition of just 44 runs to the overnight score.
Travis Head top-scored for the hosts with a gritty 72 before Shami struck twice consecutively to hand India a psychological 15-run edge.
India: 250 & 151/3 (Cheteshwar Pujara 40 batting, Virat Kohli 34, Lokesh Rahul 44; Mitchell Starc 1/18, Josh Hazlewood 1/25, Nathan Lyon 1/48) vs Australia: 235 (Travis Head 72, Peter Handscomb 34; Jasprit Bumrah 3/47, Ravichandran Ashwin 3/57).