Australian bowler Steve O'Keefe. Pic/PTI
Pune: At 2.10 PM on Saturday, when umpire Nigel Llong removed the bails and said 'time for tea', there was a big queue in the stands to get out of the MCA stadium.
On a day that witnessed the biggest crowd of all the three days of the first Test between India and Australia here, nearly half of them had left the ground after the second session on Day Three. Thats' because the hosts were hopelessly outplayed.
Once India had conceded a 155-run lead on a dry turner, and Australia had piled on 285 in the second innings runs, riding on skipper Steven Smith's hundred, the contest was as good as over. The only point of interest was if Virat Kohli and his men could better their first innings performance. They managed to score two runs more, but lasted for 6.2 overs less; Steve O'Keefe picking up his second six-wicket haul of the game in the process.
Australian bowler Steve O'Keefe celebrates his six wickets during the first test match. Pic/PTI
O'Keefe and Nathan Lyon consistently hit that in-between length, where a batsman is not quite sure whether to play forward or back. However, one would have expected the Indian batsman to handle it, having been bred on similar tracks. But barring KL Rahul in the first innings, no one was able to score a half-century. Only four Indian batsmen managed to get into double figures in the second innings; Pujara's 31 being the highest. Compare that with Smith (109), who scored two more runs than the entire Indian batting unit in the second innings. Smith was decisive with his footwork, and took singles to get off strike at every opportunity.
The first job at hand for the hosts on Day Three was to bowl Australia out as early as possible. And although they managed to get the six remaining Australian wickets in the first session, it came at a cost of 142 more runs.
Surviving for more than 200 overs on this track was never going to be easy, and India's best chance would have been to bat positively. But none of the batsmen lasted long enough to put any pressure on the opposition spinners.