Yesterday, it was Steve O’Keefe and today it was Australian skipper Steven Smith who stepped up for the team as the right-handed batsman, who is playing at his second home ground i.e. Pune, slammed a ton to help Australia set a daunting target of 441 in front of the confident home team.
It was a day for Australia where they struggled against the spin of the Indian team but never ever looked like giving away a wicket, which was the case with the Indian batting line-up yesterday.
Smith led the charge from the front, setting a perfect example of how a captain should play. Before getting out on a score of 109, Smith had already ensured a lead 400+ for his team, which will prove too heavy for the home team.
The visitors started the day quite well and continued to extend their lead before losing two wickets in a matter of 61 more runs. Both Jadeja and Ashwin were troubling the batsmen but weren’t able to click the right button, which could give the end result in form of a wicket.
Finally came the moment when they got a wicket of Steve Smith, who was finally trapped in front of stumps by Ravindra Jadeja. Australian tailenders added 39 more runs to the team’s total, thus asking India to chase a huge total of 441 in the end.
During the session, the hosts were denied an obvious dismissal in the form of Matthew Wade, who nicked a delivery of Umesh Yadav to wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha. The Indian team, in unison, went for a vociferous appeal, which umpires Richard Kettleborough turned down, much to the disappointment of Virat Kohli – who by then had no reviews left.
It will be an arduous task for the Indian team to chase this huge total. The way India batted in the first innings; one can easily doubt the capability of the home side but still, there are some dark hopes that the home side might pull off this contest.
All eyes will again be on Steve O’Keefe, who will be looking to continue his dream run in sub-continent.