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"Losing Rishabh Pant was a turnaround moment" - Cheteshwar Pujara

Rishabh Pant was struck on his elbow and was later taken to the hospital for scans.
Rishabh Pant was struck on his elbow and was later taken to the hospital for scans.
Modified 09 Jan 2021, 15:28 IST

Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara believes the wicket of left-hander Rishabh Pant was the turning point of Team India's first innings on Day 3 of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

Team India had resumed Day 3 on 96-2, and the onus was on Cheteshwar Pujara and stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane to take the game forward. Although the visitors lost the wicket of Rahane and then Hanuma Vihari through a careless run-out, Pujara believes Team India were in control till he and Rishabh Pant were at the crease.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant had added 53 runs for the fourth wicket and looked relatively comfortable against the Australian quicks. However, the southpaw played a lazy shot and edged one to the slips. That opened the floodgates for the hosts, and the visitors began to crumble like nine pins.

From 195-4, Team India were bowled out for just 244, handing the hosts a significant lead of 94 runs.

In a video conference after the end of the day's play, Cheteshwar Pujara explained how Rishabh Pant's wicket shifted the momentum in Australia's favour.

"If you look at the way our innings was progressing, we were in trouble when Rishabh got out, apart from that, till then we were in a comfortable position. We were 180/4 but things turned once Rishabh (Pant) got out, and then I got out. We did not score too many after that. I thought losing Pant was a turnaround; our aim was to get to around 330-340, but we missed out there," Cheteshwar Pujara said.

Both Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja are important members of the team: Cheteshwar Pujara

Along with Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja was also injured, with the latter getting hit on his thumb.
Along with Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja was also injured, with the latter getting hit on his thumb.

Things went from bad to worse for Team India, as both Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja were taken to the hospital for scans after the first innings. Pant had copped a blow on his elbow off the bowling of Pat Cummins while Jadeja was struck on his elbow by a thunderbolt from Mitchell Starc.

It meant that neither Rishabh Pant nor Jadeja took the field for the visitors in Australia's second innings. While Team India had Wriddhiman Saha available to do the glovework, there was no alternative to Jadeja's bowling.

After dominating the Australian batsmen in their first innings with figures of 4-62 and a brilliant run-out, Jadeja proved his value for the visitors. With the pitch wearing down, the all-rounder's ability to make optimum use of the rough would have been very handy for the visitors.

Cheteshwar Pujara doesn't yet know the extent of the injury to both players. However, he believes that Team India need to stand up and put on a spirited display on Day 4, with or without Rishabh Pant and Jadeja.

"Well when Rishabh got hit, I was not aware as to how bad it was. I don't know about the results of his scans, will know about it later. Both Pant and Jadeja are important members of the team, whatever happens with them, I still feel we will have to put on a good show tomorrow," Cheteshwar Pujara asserted.

At the end of Day 3, the hosts are sitting comfortably in the driver's seat with a lead of 197 runs, which is already looking daunting. With both Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne looking solid at the crease and having already added 68 runs for the third wicket, things are looking ominous for India.

With Jadeja unlikely to bowl on Day 4, Team India will require an inspirational bowling performance to keep themselves in contention. The visitors will also need to put up a better show with the bat in the second innings to salvage something from the Test.

Published 09 Jan 2021, 15:28 IST
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