The gap between World's top-ranked side and the No.5 Test team got accentuated to the hilt as India, powered by Pujara's vigilance and Pant's shenanigans that saw him become the first Indian wicket-keeper to register a hundred Down Under, pummelled the Australian bowlers into the dust by the close of the second day at the SCG.
With a batting line-up so unfazed, on a pitch so accommodating and against a bowling line-up so dispirited and tired, Virat Kohli decided to put an end to the host's misery by halting the Indian innings at 7-622, to have a crack at their beleaguered spirits with the ball.
And, even though Australia's physically and mentally exhausted openers made it stumps unscathed at stumps, they have an incredibly daunting mountain to climb when play resumes tomorrow, considering the fact that
After being bunted by Cheteshwar Pujara's vigil and perseverance on day 01, Australia needed early wickets to claw their way back into the game on the first morning.
It only came in the form of a good fortune when Nathan Lyon dismissed Hanuma Vihari for 42. So convinced was Vihari that the ball had rebounded from his left bicep that he immediately went on to go upstairs for a review. But, despite the visual evidence lent weight to Vihari's claim, a small spike on the Snickometer meant that the Andra all-rounder had to walk back to the pavilion.
That meant, after sending down a thankless 102 overs in the unrelenting heat at the SCG, Australia had claimed India's top-order. But, if they thought that would accelerate the innings', they were soon in for some schooling- this time, at the hands of the 21-year-old Rishabh Pant.
The 21-year-old via his pulsating strokeplay have given an account of his precious talent in the past but his 159 not out today showed there was more to his ability than just T20 slogger. Ably guided by Pujara, on the other end, Pant played the situation perfectly by milking the Australian bowlers for 1s and 2s and stitched a valuable 89-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Pujara fell tantalizingly close to his double hundred when he mistimed a drive straight to Nathan Lyon but Pant [159 not out] along with Ravindra Jadeja , who despite being tested by the short-pitch stuff, up the ante in the post Tea session to stitch a record 204-run stand for the seventh wicket [by a visiting side] as India became the first touring side to declare their innings on three consecutive occasions at 7-622.
By doing that, the visitors almost ensured that Virat Kohli will become the first Indian captain to win a Test series in Australia barring extraordinary turns of events, which, by the look of the Australians body language looks improbable.
India [d 7-622, Pujara 193, Pant 159*, Hazlewood 2-105] lead Australia [0-24, Harris 19*] by 598 runs