India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara on Day 3 of the ongoing third Test against Australia continued his watchful innings that he had started on the second day of play – he scored nine runs off 44 balls. Pujara went on to grind hard at the Australian pace attack and registered the slowest fifty of his Test career (off 173 balls).
But soon, he was dismissed by a Pat Cummins delivery that was just outside the off-stump and forced the batsman to prod at it. Australia captain and wicketkeeper Tim Paine took an easy catch behind the stumps.
After Pujara’s dismissal, India collapsed to 244, handing Australia a 94-run lead in the first innings.
Like many fans and experts of the game, Aussie legend Allan Border also took a dig on Pujara’s scoring approach at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). “He [Pujara] is almost scared to play a shot, isn’t he? He is playing to survive rather than looking to score,” Border told foxsports.com.au.
“He’s not had quite the same impact this series in that he’s taken so long to score his runs, it’s like he’s stagnated at the crease and it has had a bit of a ripple effect through the Indian batting. They can’t seem to get on top of Australia’s bowling.”
Meanwhile, former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif has come to the rescue of Pujara and has requested people to ‘have a heart’ and not criticise Team India’s batting mainstay over his slow batting approach in the Sydney Test.
“Will this Test go the distance? Did India need to score quickly and declare? Pujara came to Australia after 9 months of no cricket. Have a heart, please don’t talk about the slow rate, remember this is Test cricket not slog overs of a white ball contest,” Kaif tweeted.
Will this Test go the distance? Did India need to score quickly and declare? Pujara came to Australia after 9 months of no cricket. Have a heart, please don't talk about slow rate, remember this is Test cricket not slog overs of a white ball contest
— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) January 9, 2021
Brutally trolled for his slow batting, Pujara also responded to the critics, saying ‘he bats only in the manner he knows’.
“The way I was batting today, I was really confident. The way I got out today, I have to accept that. I could not have done anything better, I would rather focus on the things I need to do as a batsman. I just have to bat in the manner I know to bat, even as a batting unit, you need to build partnerships and bat well as a unit,” Pujara said after the end of third day’s play.