It did not seem possible until it happened. In the second session of the second day, Australia actually managed to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara in the fourth Test in Sydney on Friday, with the classy batsman falling seven runs short of a landmark double century.
The Indian No 3 resumed on 130 after completing his third century of the summer on Thursday and hardly played a false stroke before he was caught and bowled by spinner Nathan Lyon. It left India on 418 for six. Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja later put on a 200-plus partnership to pile the misery on Australia before Virat Kohli declared with the score reading 622/7 at the SCG.
It was a heartbreaking end for the stoic right-hander who just missed out on a fourth Test double century. His knock lasted a marathon 373 balls studded with 22 fours. He survived a review for caught behind on 12 and was dropped on 192 by Usman Khawaja from a difficult chance, but his innings was otherwise near-faultless.
Pujara came to the crease when opener KL Rahul was out for nine and, as he has done all series, quickly dug in, soaking up the pressure and counter-attacking when he saw an opportunity.
During the course of his marvellous innings that pretty much assured that India cannot lose this match, Pujara broke many a record.
Here’s a breakdown of the milestones Pujara crossed at SCG:
- Pujara set a new record for facing the most number of deliveries in a Test series by an Indian batsman in Australia, going past Rahul Dravid’s record in 2003-’04.
Most balls faced by an Indian in Australia
|Player||Matches (Inns)||Runs||Balls faced|
| Cheteshwar Pujara|
India in Australia, 2018/19
|4 (7)||521 (74.42)||1258|
| Rahul Dravid|
India in Australia, 2003/04
|4 (8)||619 (123.80)||1203|
| Vijay Hazare|
India in Australia, 1947/48
|5 (10)||429 (47.66)||1192|
| Virat Kohli|
India in Australia, 2014/15
|4 (8)||692 (86.50)||1093|
| Sunil Gavaskar|
India in Australia, 1977/78
|5 (9)||450 (50.00)||1032|
- Not just in terms of ball faced, in terms of minutes spent in the middle as well, Pujara set a new record for India in Australia.
- Pujara’s strategy for mental disintegration has been to bat time. Lots of it.
SCG 1st innings: 548 mins
MCG 1st innings: 481 mins
MCG 2nd innings: 5 mins
Perth 1st innings: 151 mins
Perth 2nd innings: 15 mins
Adelaide 1st innings: 376 mins
Adelaide 2nd innings: 293 mins
- Pujara became the third Indian batsman to score 500-plus runs in a series in Australia after Dravid and Kohli.
- An interesting aspect of Pujara’s runs in this series is how he has refrained from scoring through the cover, cover-point region. It tells you how well he has left the ball when it’s in the drive-able off-stump channel, a mark of great discipline.
- Pujara’s 193 was the fifth highest Test score by an Indian batsman in Australia.
- Pujara also established himself firmly as the best batsman of this series.
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