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"I don't think Cheteshwar Pujara at all is the culprit" - Tom Moody

Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara
Modified 09 Jan 2021, 23:17 IST

Former Australian all-rounder Tom Moody believes that Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara was at no fault whatsoever for his patient batting approach on day three of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

The 55-year-old stated that Cheteshwar Pujara's primary role in the team is to blunt the new ball and wear down the Australian bowlers. Cheteshwar Pujara did what was asked of him, occupying the crease for 176 balls during his innings of exactly 50 runs.

Moody stressed that it was the responsibility of stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari to play with a bit of freedom and keep the scoreboard ticking while Cheteshwar Pujara continued to play his natural game. However, neither managed to put pressure on the Australian attack, managing to score a combined 26 runs off 108 balls.

Speaking to ESPNCricinfo, Tom Moody explained why it was unfair on Cheteshwar Pujara to expect him to change his natural game, saying in this regard:

"I don't think (Cheteshwar) Pujara at all is the culprit in this case, generally in his career he has played his brand of cricket, and it would be unfair for the team to be asking him to be playing something which is totally out of his natural style."

Moody further said in this regard:

"I will put it down to Rahane and Vihari, who came in and scored 4 off 38 balls. To me, both these players needed to get the game moving, understanding the role that Cheteshwar Pujara has done not only in this series but every other series that he has played Test cricket for India."

"Occupation of the crease was not the right game-plan for India," says Tom Moody

The Indian batsmen let the Aussies stick to a disciplined line and length by not trying to attack them
The Indian batsmen let the Aussies stick to a disciplined line and length by not trying to attack them

Tom Moody thinks that Team India will not win the SCG Test if their only plan is to bat for long periods and wear down the opposition bowlers. Cheteshwar Pujara apart, Moody feels that the visitors need to show more intent and pounce on every scoring opportunity.

He wants Team India to remember the way they won the Boxing Day Test, where the visitors batted positively and looked to score runs. Moody believes that while Cheteshwar Pujara must continue to play his natural game, the rest of the Indian batsmen must try and dominate the opposition bowling attack.

"It's got to be an understanding in a team environment, that look for us to compete and build on the momentum that we had in Melbourne ... we got to be aggressive," Moody asserted.

The former player, however, lambasted the visitors' game-plan of occupying the crease for long periods but not putting up enough runs on the board.

"... the occupation of the crease was not the right game plan, if that's what they were trying to do, is just to put the Australians on the field for as long as possible and wear them down because I didn't see that way India going to win this Test match," Moody further added.

With a lead that has already mounted to 197 runs, the hosts are in pole position to win the SCG Test. Their two best batsmen, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne are at the crease. Ominously for India, the duo has already added 68 runs for the third wicket and looks good for more.

As Ravindra Jadeja is unlikely to bowl in the Australian second innings owing to a dislocated left thumb, a depleted Indian bowling attack will need to find inspiration from somewhere and pick up early wickets on day four to remain in contention in the Test.

Published 09 Jan 2021, 23:17 IST
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