India have taken the Sydney Test down to the wire as the injury-ridden visitors continue to defy the Aussies. The side rebuilt following the departures of Pant and Pujara, and have everything to play for in the final session. With an injured Vihari and Ashwin still at the crease, there is a chance that India can still win, or at least draw this one.
Australia had a much better afternoon session after struggling in the morning. The hosts will be happy to see the back of Pant and Pujara after the duo got them panicking with their century stand. With doubts about Ravindra Jadeja’s fitness, the Aussies will be confident when it comes to wrapping up the tail after they come back from Tea.
Brief scores: India 280/5 (Rishabh Pant 97, Cheteshwar Pujara 77; Josh Hazlewood 2/26, Nathan Lyon 2/101) and 244 all out trail Australia 338 all out and 312/6 d (Cameron Green 84, Steve Smith 81; Navdeep Saini 2/54, Ravichandran Ashwin 2/95) by 127 runs
India started the post lunch session cautiously, as they continued to chip away at Australia’s lead. Cheteshwar Pujara reached 6000 Test runs with a nudge off Mitchell Starc, becoming the 11th Indian to do so. He then brought up his half-century with a classy boundary against Nathan Lyon.
Rishabh Pant, on the other end, made a solid case for his place as a pure batsman in the side, as he continued to take on Australia’s bowlers. The youngster didn’t shy away from going down the crease as he raced into the 90s.
Pant's departure halts India's charge
The aggression which earned him the plaudits in the morning proved to be his downfall, as he succumbed for 97. The India batsman took on Nathan Lyon for one shot too many and the Aussie spinner finally got his man after seeing him get dropped twice in the previous session.
Pant’s wicket couldn’t have come at a worse time for India, as a visibly nervous Hanuma Vihari got exposed to the new ball. The struggling batsman took 18 balls to get off the mark.
Cheteshwar Pujara at the same time showed great match awareness and shifted gears to do the bulk of the scoring. The highlight was when Pujara scored a hat-trick of fours against Australia’s Pat Cummins.
Injuries have been a recurring theme for India this series, and fans held their breath after Hanuma Vihari pulled up his hamstring while taking a single. Although the batsman continued after getting his thigh strapped, the stoppage seemed to break Pujara’s concentration.
The India No.3 played the wrong line and the ball stayed low too as Hazlewood rattled the stumps and Pujara's defiance finally came to an end.
The departure of the two set batsmen halted India’s charge. With Vihari struggling to run between the wickets, he held on to one end. Ashwin kept Australia’s bowlers at bay till tea as well, as the Sydney Test went into the final session.
India will be keen to regroup at the break, as they figure out their batting strategy for the final session. Australia will have their tails up after dismissing Pant and Pujara and will look to wrap up the tail post tea.Published 11 Jan 2021, 10:33 IST