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India vs Australia | Pujara, Pant & Jadeja Put India in Command at Sydney

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: January 4, 2019, 10:00 PM IST
India vs Australia | Pujara, Pant & Jadeja Put India in Command at Sydney

Picture Credit: Twitter/BCCI

Cheteshwar Pujara first, Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja next.

One by one, India's batsmen piled on the misery on helpless and hapless Australia bowlers, making them toil for 167.2 overs before declaring on 622 for 7. Pujara scored 193, Pant was unbeaten on 159 while Jadeja scored 81, all but ensuring India will win their first ever series in Australia. And no team has ever lost a game after scoring 600 or more in first innings in Test history.

At stumps on the second day, Australia were 24 for 0 with Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja in the middle, trailing India by 598 runs.

India began the day on 303 for 4, which meant the only way Australia could have fought back was through some quick wickets in the first session. They did get one, when Hanuma Vihari was caught at bat-pad off Nathan Lyon, the third umpire sticking with the on-field call despite a review. The 101-run stand for the fifth wicket was broken, but bigger partnerships were to follow.

Pujara kept batting and batting, going past his 150. Pant too seemed to have got a hang of India's approach - keep batting, keep grinding. He was relatively sedate initially and gave good company to Pujara, taking India to 389 for 5 by lunch.

Pujara seemed set for a double-ton but was slightly jittery in the 190s. He was dropped by Usman Khawaja at slip off Lyon on 192, but one run later, came down the track to chip a return catch to Lyon. A marathon 373-ball effort had ended, and Pujara walked off to a standing ovation.

But that was certainly not the end of the torture for Australia's bowlers. Pant went past his half-century, and opened up in the company of Jadeja. The shots gradually began to come out, and Pant raced to his century off 137 balls. His first 50 had taken 85 balls, the next 50 came off 52. It was the first century by an Indian wicketkeeper in Australia.

At the other end, Jadeja was having some fun too. He took a special liking to Pat Cummins, who he slammed for a straight six, celebrated his half-century in typical talwar style. He even hit four fours in an over off Cummins to take India past 600.

With each passing ball, one almost felt bad for Australia's bowlers. For the second consecutive match, they were forced to take the third new ball. It only traveled faster to the boundary, as Pant played some audacious strokes. He even tried to reverse-scoop Josh Hazlewood, albeit he didn't connect.

The bowlers were tiring, and India could have gone on and on. A century was there for the taking for Jadeja. A double-ton, for Pant. Jadeja, though, fell 19 short when he stepped down and missed a Lyon delivery, prompting Virat Kohli to declare. It was Lyon's fourth wicket - a small consolation after bowling 57.2 overs. Hazlewood (35), Cummins (28) and Mitchell Starc (26) had plenty of work as well.

Australia then had a tricky 10-over period to negotiate. They should have lost Khawaja for nought, but Pant dropped a sitter after Mohammed Shami found the edge. It was a small blip on an otherwise brilliant day for India.
First Published: January 4, 2019, 12:35 PM IST

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