Cricket-Pant fireworks offer India a glimmer of hope in Sydney

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By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY, Jan.11 (Reuters) – Rishabh Pant has led the fight in Australia with a dazzling half-century to help India reach 206-for-three on the last day of the third test on Monday, but tourists will pick up their sleeves after lunch again 200 races in arrears.

India had started a sunny day at Sydney Cricket Ground on 98-2, chasing an unlikely 407 victory goal and were immediately on the back foot when Ajinkya Rahane was sacked in Game 2.

Pant’s 73 on 97 balls, however, gave them a glimmer of hope of securing a remarkable victory that would give them a 2-1 lead in the series before the final test in Brisbane. The wicket keeper was in serious injury doubt on Saturday after taking a nasty blow to the elbow, but showed no signs of straining as he slammed two huge sixes off Nathan Lyon to get to the edge of his third half -century.

Cheteshwar Pujara was the chalk of Pant’s cheese, contributing 41 races from 147 deliveries to a partnership worth 104 races at the break.

Australia were pinning their hopes on the Lyon spin off having a big impact on a deteriorating five-day wicket and wasted no time in sacking Rahane for four, with Matthew Wade taking the hook on an inside edge at the short leg.

The hosts will always be strong favorites to win, especially as Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is not sure to beat after breaking his thumb in the opening heats.

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