How India breached the Aus barrier

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How India breached the Aus barrier

08 Jan 2019 015 Views Yash Mittal

It's been 71 years of Indian fans growing up in the wee hours of cold December mornings, watching with bleary eyes in the hope of their team winning in perhaps the most obscure and hostile conditions for a visiting side, only to end up being disappointed as a similar script repeated itself every four years.

This visit by Virat Kohli's men, this time around was supposed to be different, though. After all, Australia was without their two ace batsmen in David Warner and Steve Smith and was more bothered about regaining the respect back with terms like 'elite honesty' and India were possibly going with one of the best group of bowlers they have assembled in their history.

But, they needed their batting to step-up. India needed someone who wasn't called Virat Kohli to play a defining role with the bat, the absence of which, for a better part of England and South Africa tour, led to their downfall and undo all the good work done by their bowlers, and when they were reduced to 4-48 on the first morning of the Adelaide Test, a similar story threatened to ensue. Enter Cheteshwar Pujara.

The same Cheteshwar Pujara, who was dropped to accommodate the more flamboyant batters of his side at Birmingham. The same Pujara, who had been questioned about his strike-rate where his approach was considered too 'old-fashioned' to fit in this era.

At Adelaide, the same old Pujara's grit and defiance came to Kohli's team rescue as he stroked a masterly 123 which ultimately proved to be the differentiator between the two sides. It is not only the magnitude of Pujara's runs but the amount of time that he spent on the crease grinding the Australian bowlers to dust by the time he trudged off the SCG to a standing ovation.

In accumulating 521 runs across 4 Tests, Pujara spent around 1867 minutes on the crease and faced 1258 balls, frustrating a top-class opposition attack into submission. Not only did Pujara's 'meditation' on the crease wore down the Aussie bowlers, but it also allowed his more flamboyant teammates to land a killer blow.

Rishabh Pant had shown his precocious talent but little discipline in the first two Tests. But, by the time Kohli had declared at the SCG, Pant's makeover, whose signs were evident at Melbourne, was complete.

Pujara's grind in the middle also did a world of good to the Indian bowlers, giving them ample time to rest before unleashing themselves on the underconfident and mentally tired Australian batsmen.

Kohli might have wanted Pujara to score quickly when he dropped him in England, but by the time, the Indian No.3 trudged off at the SCG, he would have wanted to give him a bear hug, for it was his 'old-fashioned' fashioned grit and perseverance that paved the way for what Kohli described as "the proudest moment of his career".   

Yash Mittal

Bharat Army Cricket Writer

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