Ajinkya Rahane stood tall amid the ruins in his comeback game as he showed remarkable skill and courage against a hostile Australian pace attack to take India to 260 for six at lunch on day three of the World Test Championship Final here on Friday.
India remained behind in the game despite the resilience of Rahane (89 batting off 122). Giving him much-needed support was Shardul Thakur (36 batting off 83), who survived two nasty blows on his forearm and was dropped twice.
India, who resumed the day at 151 for five in response to Australia's 469, need 10 runs to avoid follow-on. It was commendable that India managed to score 109 runs in 22 overs bowled in the session on Friday.
The way Scott Boland and Pat Cummins got the ball to kick off length in the first hour, one could sense a wicket off every ball.
Boland ripped through the defences of K.S. Bharat on the second ball of the day as the Indian wicketkeeper had no answer to a delivery that jagged back in sharply from length.
Cummins looked equally threatening from other end and hit Thakur's forearm on back-to-back balls with extra bounce, requiring physio's intervention.
Like Thakur, Rahane too had luck going his way as he dropped David Warner at first slip when he was on 72.
After getting a few streaky boundaries, Rahane got his fifty with a spectacular six off Cummins over fine leg. The Australian skipper angled one into his body and Rahane made room to pull it for a maximum.
His best shot of the morning was a cover drive off Cameron Green and it came after a thick edge that flew over the slip cordon, showing that one had to take his chances on this wicket.
The final moments of the session were full of action. Rahane got consecutive fours off Nathon Lyon via a back-foot punch and a crisp drive through the cover.
The last over before lunch saw Thakur being adjudged lbw but it ended up being a no ball from Cummins. The Aussie skipper had also overstepped after trapping Rahane in front of the stumps on day two.