Sydney: Rookie batsman Lokesh Rahul struck his maiden half century as India fought hard to reach 122 for two at lunch on the third day of their fourth and final cricket Test against Australia here on Thursday.
At the break, opener Rahul (50 batting off 164 balls) and skipper Virat Kohli (16 batting) were at the crease as the visitors still trail by 450 runs in their first innings. Australia had declared their first innings at 572/7.
The 22-year-old Rahul, playing in his second Test match, got two reprieves. He first survived a run-out chance when on 42 and then Australian captain Steven Smith dropped a catch when the Indian opener was on 46.
The morning began with Rohit Sharma (53 off 133 balls) and Rahul at the crease as India started off from their overnight score of 71/1. They needed to bat for time as well as keep the runs ticking.
While they were successful at the first part, runs came in a trickle as the Australian bowling attack bowled with patience on an easy pitch. They held a tight line and length and gave very little for the Indian batsmen to play against.
Only 19 runs came off the first hour of play which saw 15 overs bowled. Only three boundaries came in that run of play, two off the bat of Rahul and one from Rohit. However, if the first hour was a little dull, there were many interesting things waiting to happen in the second part of this morning session.
It started with Nathan Lyon's (1/39) introduction into the attack as he got the ball to bounce and turn, using the rough marks to his advantage. In the 44th over, he had a close shout for a catch against Rahul (on 42 then) turned down, despite the replays showing that the batsman might have had a feather-nick to Joe Burns at short leg. It did not matter much as he got Rohit on the fourth delivery of that over.