Sydney Test, Day 2: India in Command, Lead Australia by 598 Runs
Incredible performances by the batsman on the second day put India in the driver’s seat of the fourth and final Test against Australia in Sydney.
India declared their innings at 622/7 – their second-highest team total Down Under – on Friday, 4 January, after Cheteshwar Pujara (193) and Rishabh Pant (159*) smashed 150-plus scores while Ravindra Jadeja (81) contributed with a significant half-century. Incidentally, their highest team total of 705/7 declared, was also scored at this venue in 2004.
At Stumps, Australia had posted 24/0 and trailed India by a massive 598 runs. Earlier, Usman Khawaja was dropped on nought by Pant off Mohammed Shami (0-9) in the third over, and he was unbeaten on 5 runs, with Marcus Harris (19 not out) keeping him company.
Patient Pujara Bats On
The series top-scorer Cheteshwar Pujara missed out on what would have been a well-deserved double hundred, ending at 193 off 373 balls, adding 63 runs to his overnight score.
In the first session of the day, Pujara took his fifth-wicket partnership with Hanuma Vihari (42) to 101 runs. Vihari was eventually caught at short leg off Lyon in the 102nd over. There was the faintest blip on snickometer and the decision stayed in Australia's favour despite Vihari's DRS review.
Pujara batted on and reached his 150 off 282 balls. His slow grinding partnership with Vihari meant that only 32 runs came off the first hour of play. But he and Pant upped the ante in the second hour, adding another 54 runs later in the session.
Pujara crossed a few more milestones during this morning session.
- Firstly, he went past 153, his previous highest overseas Test score, against both South Africa (Johannesburg, 2013) and Sri Lanka (Galle, 2017).
- He also became only the third Indian batsman to score 500-plus runs in a Test series against Australia, after Rahul Dravid in 2003-04 and Virat Kohli in 2014-15.
- In doing so, he also batted 1200-plus deliveries thus far in the four matches, the most for an Indian batsman against Australia in a Test series, ahead of Dravid's 1,203 balls faced in 2003-04.
Post Lunch, India crossed 400 in the 123rd over with the dup bringing up their 50-partnership off 74 balls. In all, they added 89 runs for the sixth wicket.
Pujara got a life on 192 when Khawaja dropped him at slip off Lyon in the 126th over. But the 30-year-old batsman couldn't score his first overseas Test double hundred and offered a tired return catch to Lyon four overs later.
Pant, Jadeja Stand Tall
Ravindra Jadeja and Pant’s partnership was also slow off the blocks scoring at just about 3 per over for the first eight overs. But they slowly shifted gears after Pant reached his half-century off 85 balls. He put on 73 off 96 balls for the unbeaten seventh wicket with Jadeja.
Post Tea, the hosts simply waited for the declaration to come as India crossed 500 in the 149th over.
With his unbeaten 159, Pant set the record for the highest-ever score by an Indian wicketkeeper in away Tests, surpassing MS Dhoni’s 148 against Pakistan in 2006.
The Australian bowlers were also tormented by Jadeja (81) and the home team's desperation for a breakthrough resulted in even top-order batsman Usman Khawaja being pressed into the attack.
India continued batting on, seemingly a ploy to break the Australian spirit, with Jadeja scoring his 10th Test half-century off 89 balls.
Australia took their third new ball of the innings and Nathan Lyon (4-178) bowled Jadeja in the 168th over in search of his hundred and Virat Kohli called the batsmen in.
India, chasing a maiden Test series triumph on Australian soil, have an unassailable 2-1 lead after winning the opener in Adelaide by 31 runs and the third match in Melbourne by 137 runs. Australia won the second Test in Perth by 146 runs.