Tuesday 22 October, 2019

India inflict further pain on Australia as Pujara and Pant star

India centurion Rishabh Pant.

India centurion Rishabh Pant.

India charged towards their first series victory in Australia after Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant inspired a complete day of dominance as the tourists reached 622 runs in Sydney on Friday.

Having already retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, India moved a step closer to a series victory thanks to Pujara's masterclass of 193 and Pant's unbeaten 159 at the SCG on day two of the fourth match.

Australia toiled fruitlessly in the Sydney heat and were completely outplayed by India, who declared on 622-7 after a 204-run partnership between Pant and Ravindra Jadeja (81) was ended in the final session.

Having fielded for almost two full days, Australia navigated a tricky 10-over spell late in the day via Marcus Harris (19 not out) and Usman Khawaja (5no) to reach 24-0 at stumps, still trailing by 598 runs, albeit fortuitously after Khawaja was dropped by Pant.

It was another energy-sapping day for Australia in the field as India heaped further misery on the beleaguered hosts, who only managed one wicket in a lopsided first session.

Hanuma Vihari's dismissal to Nathan Lyon (4-178) for 42 inside the first hour of play was the only wicket to fall as he and Pujara put on 101 runs after India resumed on 303-4.

Pujara had brought up his 150 with a boundary through covers before Vihari looked on in disbelief when his review of a catch failed to save him despite replays seeming inconclusive.

India were never in real danger, though Pujara was fortunate to survive on 192 when Khawaja – fielding at first slip – dropped him after stretching to his right to get a hand to the outside edge.

Lyon, however, finally dislodged Pujara caught and bowled as the in-form India batsman left the field to a standing ovation having taken his series tally to 521 runs.

Pujara's dismissal reduced India to 418-6 but Pant and Jadeja kept the scoreboard ticking over against Tim Paine's Australia, who simply had no answer with the ball.

Lyon, Mitchell Starc (1-123), Josh Hazlewood (2-105) and Pat Cummins (0-101) were picked apart as Pant scored his second Test century and first against Australia with a boundary following the tea break.

Paine turned to Marnus Labuschagne (0-76) and even Khawaja (0-4) and Travis Head (0-20) in an act of desperation to find a breakthrough but there was no stopping Pant becoming the first India wicketkeeper to score a hundred in Australia from just 137 deliveries.

Virat Kohli appeared to be flirting with a declaration during the afternoon and he finally called his batsmen off the ground when Jadeja was bowled by Lyon.

Scores in the match so far: India 622-7 declared, India 24-0.

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