Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant beat the injury scare to his elbow to score a fifty as he stitched a solid partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara on Day 5 of the third Test at the SCG. Resuming their mammoth 407-run chase on the last day of the Test, India lost skipper Rahane early in the first session, forcing Pant to come out to bat. Pant scored 4 boundaries and three sixes en route to his half-century and at the time of publishing of this story, Pant stood unbeaten at 73 at lunch while a gritty Pujara had 41 runs to his name.
It was one of the most productive sessions for India in this Test series with 108 runs coming their way, largely due to Pant's counter-attacking display which did put the Australians in a spot. The session started with Lyon starting the day successfully trapping Rahane with a classical off-spinner's dismissal by tossing one up and it hit the rough while the Indian skipper tried to defend and the forward short leg Matthew Wade was in play. In a change of ploy, Pant was promoted above Hanuma Vihari, with the knowledge that survival won't help on this track and also the left-right combination needed to be in place.
Steve Smith (81 off 167 balls) missed out on a second hundred but rookie Cameron Green flayed a hapless Indian attack with a well-made 84 off 132 balls that had four sixes. They declared at the stroke of tea, having scored 312 for 6. Marnus Labuschagne (73 off 118 balls) once again batted positively during his second-century partnership of the match (103 runs) with mentor Smith, who employed a more cautious approach. The butter-fingered Indian fielders also didn't help the bowlers' cause as Hanuma Vihari, vice-captain Rohit, and Rahane missed regulation catches at square leg, slip and gully respectively. While Ravichandran Ashwin (2/95 in 25 overs) can take solace in the fact that he denied Smith a hundred with a successful review, he would be the first to admit that he was well below his best during the match.
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