36th over: India 97-2 (Pujara 21, Rahane 19) Five dot balls from Starc, then Pujara plays a simple checked drive through cover for three. He’s so compact and controlled when playing those, and they rarely go to the rope because he doesn’t hit so hard that he’ll lose control.
I’m looking at stats and Pujara has currently faced around 13,350 balls in Test cricket. Since his debut in October 2010, there aren’t many who have faced more. Steve Smith, by about 100 balls. Che could pass him today. Kane Williamson by about 300. Azhar Ali by about 1000. Joe Root by 1300, and Alastair Cook by 4000-plus. Cook finished with 17, 534 balls faced in that span.
The ridiculous part there is that Cook retire… what, three years ago? And he still palyed 101 Tests in the span since Pujara debuted. Root played 98. No one plays as much as England, so the others are Azhar 77, Williamson 83, Smith 75, Pujara 81.
35th over: India 94-2 (Pujara 18, Rahane 19) More initiative from Pujara, who drops a ball to point and dashes for the run as Green has a long way to get down to the ball. Rahane strides into another Cummins length ball and drives on the up through cover for three. High-class shot but it’s risky, that’s the sort that he could easily get wrong. The sun has just come out at the Gabba, and you’d think that playing those drives might be more sensible a bit later once any early moisture has dried out. Then add another bye to the tally as Cummins goes too short again and this time a vertically rising Paine is able to get the very tip of his glove flap to the ball and slow it up to prevent it reaching the fence.
Glove flap. Baby, glove flap.
34th over: India 89-2 (Pujara 17, Rahane 16) Pujara cuts away for four again. Each scoring stroke seems notable from this long-innings player. He’s been quite active this morning, willing to take on certain deliveries. That ball from Starc around the wicket is angled in at him, short, and he just has to lean away from it and hold the bat in position, cross-bat style, to divert behind point. Then he glances a single and Rahane flicks a brace in front of square. Seven from the over.
33rd over: India 82-2 (Pujara 12, Rahane 14) Another little bit of fortune for the Indians, as Cummins bounces Rahane but the ball takes off, clearing Paine’s leap and going for four byes. Aside from that, Rahane defends.
The deficit on the first innings is now 287.
32nd over: India 78-2 (Pujara 12, Rahane 14) Starc to Rahane, edging through the same gap for four! A different shot this time, it’s a straighter ball and Rahane tries to play through midwicket. Gets a leading edge and it flies through exactly the same window in the cordon. Starc just smiles and shakes his head. Whaddyagonnado? He follows up with a single to mid-off, and the very next ball Pujara cuts for four! Now Che is away: a shot with a bit of flourish, swishing his wrists through the shorter ball outside off and placing it just behind point along the ground.
31st over: India 69-2 (Pujara 8, Rahane 9) Cummins rolls on, and he’s making Che Pujara play, which is the first step. Two slips and a gully for El Che, as well as the leg slip that the Australians like having in place. Rahane with the conventional off-side cordon. Another maiden. Pujara has faced 16 balls this morning without scoring.
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30th over: India 69-2 (Pujara 8, Rahane 9) Starc to Rahane, edged for four! A proper nick flying through the air, but into the gap between Green at gully and Wade at third slip. Rahane gets very lucky. Don’t know why he played that shot. He takes a big stride forward and pushes at a very wide ball, hard hands, on the up. No upside in that shot, except he wins the smile of fortune. He goes back to leaving from that point on.
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29th over: India 65-2 (Pujara 8, Rahane 5) Cummins goes a little shorter and Rahane pulls that firmly behind square for a single. The bowler follows up with some good zing to Pujara, getting the ball to lift and leap through to Paine behind the stumps. Pujara sees off four more balls.
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28th over: India 64-2 (Pujara 8, Rahane 4) Starc from the Vulture Street end, the left-armer bowling around the wicket to the right-handed Pujara, who unsurprisingly blocks out a maiden. Starc is less measured than Cummins, bowling a couple at the body, a couple wide of the stumps, a couple drawing a forward defence.
27th over: India 64-2 (Pujara 8, Rahane 4) Pat Cummins has the ball and he’s started with Stanley Street at his back. Rahane gets going quickly. doubling his score by punching through the covers for a couple of runs. A very restrained push at the ball. Cummins otherwise lands the ball tight on the line of off stump as you’d expect.
We’re close to getting underway. Players walking out. Lots of discussion about a few cracks opening up in the pitch. It will likely be a difficult opening hour with the bowlers fresh. Have at it.
And for those of you who like to see what some of your OBO accompanists look like, here’s me and Adam Collins at the Gabba with the remnants of last night’s thunderstorm glowering in the background, going through some of the detail from day two.
For your convenience, last night’s report from the wire service about what happened yesterday.
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It’s day three. The centre. The fulcrum point. The Wednesday of Test matches, whatever day of the week it comes. It’s a Sunday in real terms here in Brisbane and it’s a sticky overcast day. Let me tell you a bit about the heat in Brisbane. It’s close. It’s intimate. It comes and stands too close to you and breathes in your ear. The amount of moisture in the air means that the air wraps around you. Then, when the sun peeks through the cloud even a little, the Australian UV index means that it cooks you faster than the sun anywhere else. It heats up all that water, and your human self starts to cook inside your own confines like a chunk of meat in a sous vide bag. It’s a very physical place to be, you’ll never be unaware of your own body in this city.
That’s what the players face when they’re out in the middle in Brisbane. India will resume after an abbreviated start to their first innings, having lost the entire third session of the second day. They’re 62 for 2 responding to Australia’s 369 all out. Another big effort required from the senior pair, Pujara and Rahane, after Rohit Sharma looked a million bucks yesterday but sold his wicket at Cash Converters prices. Australia’s bowlers are out there warming up as I type. Might be a few sprinkles of rain about but nothing that will hold us up for long. Should be another good day.