Boxing Day Test: Absorb pressure like Pujara and Virat, Cummins tells Oz
Pujara batted for nearly seven hours and faced 319 deliveries in making 106, while adding 170 for the third wicket with Virat Kohli, who made a sedate 204-ball 82
Cheteshwar Pujara's painstaking century on the first two days of the third Test might have been castigated in certain quarters, surprisingly by former international players, too. But the value of the India No. 3 batsman's 17th Test ton is becoming more and more magnified as the game moves towards its climax.
Pujara batted for nearly seven hours and faced 319 deliveries in making 106, while adding 170 for the third wicket with Virat Kohli, who made a sedate 204-ball 82. With Australia facing a stiff fourth-innings target on an unpredictable surface, Pat Cummins said the template for batting on this track had been set by the Pujara-Kohli duo.
India are already 346 runs to the good with five wickets in hand, though they did stumble in the second innings to 54 for five after Cummins picked up four for 10. "What we saw from India's first innings, we saw the temperament of Pujara and Virat and how they paced their innings," the Aussie speedster said yesterday. "They absorbed pressure because on this kind of wicket, it is hard to score runs. You have to face a lot of balls to get big scores and it is probably one of those wickets where you do the hard work early. Keep absorbing pressure and score later, but evidently it did not work for us today."
Australia were rolled over for 151 as they replied to India's 443 for seven declared, exposing their fragility in the enforced absence of the suspended pair of Steve Smith and David Warner. "It was obviously not ideal," Cummins acknowledged of the batting effort. "We turned up thinking of a good first-innings score and being right in the game. This is a young batting group and they are working hard. They are trying their best, but it is just one of those things. Today it didn't come off.
"It's always going to be hard missing two of your best players. We've known for nine months [of the unavailability of Smith and Warner]. Others have to stand up. It probably highlights the class they've had in previous years but we've got find to find a way. Everyone here is good enough. They've done it at the level below, all of them are the best [Sheffield] Shield players and most of them have done it for Australia before. The wicket feels pretty good still, so everyone feels like in the second innings they can face more balls and get going."
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