Australia should bat like classy Cheteshwar Pujara: Marnus Labuschagne
All-rounder Labuschagne wants Aussie batters to spend more time on the crease just like ton-up Chesteshwar after his unbeaten 130 guides India to 303-4 on Day 1
In his four previous Test innings, all against Pakistan in the UAE last October, Marnus Labuschagne has batted in the middle-order, between Nos. 5 and 7. When he walks out to bat, perhaps at some stage on Day Two of the fourth Test against India, it will be at No. 3, a position he has occupied for no little time in the Sheffield Shield for Queensland.
Born in Klerksdorp, South Africa and the pronunciation of whose name has been a topic of much mirth in Australia, Labuschagne had a fantastic ringside view of how his India counterpart went about building an innings on Day One. For close on six and a half hours, Cheteshwar Pujara (130 not out) put on a masterclass at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), easing to his 18th Test hundred and his third this series.
Pujara took his time early on, giving the bowlers the respect they deserved with the new ball. Once he went past his half-century, he changed gears effortlessly before holding back with stumps imminent. It's a template Labuschagne hopes to copy when it is his turn to front up to Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav.
"He was very classy, wasn't he?" Labuschagne said after the first day's play. "His time, patience around the crease and just the way he batted was very good. I think it's something I personally can take a lot from. He batted a lot of time and that's something he's done through this whole series. That's what we're going to need to do and all our batters are going to need to step up and put a big score on the board."
To his fortune, good or otherwise, his first bowl in a Test match in Australia was also to Pujara. One of the factors that influenced Labuschagne's selection to the XI ahead of Mitchell Marsh is his ability to bowl leg-spin, but Pujara took him apart in the first over, with three fours in six deliveries. Now, he is looking ahead to batting at No. 3 and leaving a bigger impression. "It's exciting to get that opportunity and one I am hoping to make count," he said.
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