Australia had a dominating outing against India in the ongoing Sydney Test as they bundled out the visitors for 244 on Day 3, securing a handy first innings lead of 94 runs.
Right-arm pacer Pat Cummins was the wrecker-in-chief for the hosts, taking 4 wickets for 29 runs. Shubman Gill (50), Cheteshwar Pujara (50), Ajinkya Rahane (22) and Mohammed Siraj (6) were his victims.
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Speaking after the day’s play, Cummins said Australian bowlers came into this series determined to make life “as hard as possible” for Pujara, who has coped criticism for his ultra-defensive approach in the series so far.
Pujara took 176 balls to score his 50 runs in India’s first innings at SCG.
“Today I got a bit of assistance from the pitch. But he (Pujara) is someone you know you are going to have to bowl a lot at,” Cummins said during the virtual post-day press conference, as quoted by PTI.
“We got our head around that this series, for him to score runs, we are going to make it as hard as possible, and whether he bats for 200-300 balls, we would just try and bowl good ball after good ball, challenge both sides of his bat, and fortunately, so far it has worked,” he added.
Cummins was asked about Pujara’s slow scoring rate and the pressure it puts on other batsmen.
“It’s one of those things. You know he (Pujara) is going to hang around. As long as you are controlling the scoreboard. At one stage he had been out there for 200 balls or 150 balls and I looked up there thinking they are still 200 away from our first-innings total.
“So, that fell a long way away and if we continue bowling well, you’re not overly bothered.”
“I think having Greeny (Chris Green) in there as a bowling option as well helps so we’re not having those big 20-over days,” he said.
Batting in the second innings, Australia lost David Warner (13) and Will Pucovski (10) cheaply but the duo of Marnus Labuschagne (47*) and Steve Smith (29*) added an unbroken 68-run stand for the third wicket to put the home team in a commanding position.
Australia eventually finished the third day on 103/2, extending their overall lead to 197 runs.
“I think, at the start of the day, I was kind of hoping that we wouldn’t end the day still having to bowl, so to be having 200 lead with eight wickets in hand on a wicket that is deteriorating pretty quickly, great result,” Cummins said.
“I think they are a good side, I am sure they are going to bounce back but in terms of getting the bowlers back out there for another day, they have now bowled for three days in a row, those kinds of things do add up,” he further remarked.
Cummins said the hosts would look to take the lead beyond 300 runs at least.
“The big thing is to keep that lead get up over 300-odd and hopefully the wicket keeps deteriorating and make that a really tough total to score on day four and five,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)