MELBOURNE, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Cheteshwar Pujara raised his second century of the series in a stubborn partnership with captain Virat Kohli as the pair pushed India to 277 for two at lunch in the heat of day two of the third test against Australia on Thursday.
Pujara was 103 not out and Kohli on 69, the pair having built an 154-run stand as Australia’s bowlers were condemned to a morning of toil on a lifeless Melbourne Cricket Ground wicket.
Having come together at tea on day one, Pujara and Kohli resumed at 215 for two in the morning, with the temperature already pushing 30 degrees Celsius (86F).
Kohli had been well-pinned down before stumps on the first day, going run-less for more than 20 deliveries.
Resuming on 47 on Thursday he was finally given a full, loose delivery by seamer Pat Cummins, and gratefully whipped the ball off his pads for three to bring up his 20th test fifty.
Cummins, who has troubled Kohli the most among Australia’s bowlers during the series, did his best to hit back at the skipper, beating his bat with a couple of unplayable deliveries.
Josh Hazlewood also induced an edge that flew wide of the slips but Kohli survived and later smacked the bowler for four with a sumptuous straight drive.
Australia continued to bowl tight lines but gained little assistance from the pitch, as India’s batsmen bided their time and pounced on looser balls.
Pujara began to attack off-spinner Nathan Lyon, roughing him up with an imperious cover drive for four, and later smashed a delivery to the long off fence to bring up his 17th test century.
Pujara also scored 123 in Adelaide to help India claim the series-opener.
Rubbing salt into the wounds, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh induced a leading edge from Pujara in the last over before lunch but the ball flew wide of the diving fielder at point.
With only two wickets produced by a world class attack in four sessions of cricket, Australia’s bowlers face further work in the searing conditions with the temperature tipped to reach 36 degrees Celsius.
The four-match series is poised at 1-1, after Australia won the second match in Perth.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury