India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara scored his slowest fifty in red-ball cricket on Day 3 of the ongoing third Test against Australia at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Saturday.
This was Pujara’s 26th Test half-ton and the eight against Australia. He got to his fifty off 174 balls, surpassing his previous slowest half-century (off 173 balls) which came against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2018.
However, after scoring the fifty, Pujara was removed immediately by Australian pacer Pat Cummins. He was eventually dismissed for 51 after facing 176 deliveries.
The fans were clearly disappointed with the approach of Pujara on a track where bowlers struggled to get wickets. Many believed that Pujara’s slowest knock did not allow India to get the momentum they were looking for, which eventually hurt the visitors as they could only reach 244 in the first innings.
Not only fans but even cricket experts also seemed to be unhappy with Pujara’s over-defensive tactics in the SCG Test. Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting felt that Pujara put too much pressure on his batting partners.
“I don’t think it was the right approach, I think he needed to be a bit more proactive with his scoring rate because I felt it was putting too much pressure on his batting partners,” tweeted Ponting.
I don't think it was the right approach, I think he needed to be a bit more proactive with his scoring rate because I felt it was putting too much pressure on his batting partners https://t.co/2OhmdATvke
— Ricky Ponting AO (@RickyPonting) January 9, 2021
Here is how other fans reacted:
Look at the intent from Marnus. At number 3 taking the game away. See the scoring rate. Both Pujara and Marnus are very good but Marnus has taken this Test match for his side: Pujara built pressure on others by getting bogged down.
— Boria Majumdar (@BoriaMajumdar) January 9, 2021
The way Pujara has played sometimes feel it's better if he opens…Opportunity lost here as none of batsmen scored a big one.. Great bowling by Cummins n Hazelwood.. What is with the runouts here? #INDvsAUS
— Mayank Bhagat (@ikigaimathlabs) January 9, 2021
Never ever watch Pujara and Vihari batting together .
India needs to find a batsman who keeps the scoreboard ticking while Pujara holds ground.#INDvsAUS
— Arul Baratike (@arulbaratike) January 9, 2021
Either open with Pujara or drop him. No point in playing blocker who's coming after Gill just to destroy the momentum
— Karthi (@The_Hitwicket) January 9, 2021
Just look at the 7 wickets that have gone down for India. How many have been thrown away ? 6 wickets.
Who’s the one who didn’t throw it away by playing a bad shot ? Pujara. So much scrutiny for some sensible batting ? We surely can do better ! #AUSvIND #PinkTest
— Cricket With Ash (@CricketWithAsh) January 9, 2021
Time to call out Pujara's defensive tactics.
Nothing good has come out of excessive defending.
No intent even to rotate strike.
— Aditya Sharma (@apostateindian) January 9, 2021
The way Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara at the end of yesterday's play cost us, the momentum shifted towards Australia and today, Smith and Marnus showed the way, intent and a positive approach, I understand the cricket purists but you can't just block everything. #AUSvIND
— Shiv Dhawan (@shivdhawan10) January 9, 2021
I think if Cheteshwar Pujara wants to win matches for India he may need to change a few things. Holding on an end and all is fine but you need to capitalise on the time spent in the middle by scoring runs too.
— Addie Kumar (@adityeah) January 9, 2021
No doubt #CheteshwarPujara is good player but run is also important for team only dot ball couldn't won game.
As compare to #RahulDravid he had do same thing but he also make run for his team & played a beautiful knocks #INDvsAUS
— amankakkad (@amankakkad3) January 9, 2021
Even #CheteshwarPujara's position must be under scanner by now, no? Fair to say he doesn't get opportunities like other players, and didn't play any other games in 2020. But isn't he batting too slow? And that inability to rotate strike has an impact on the team tempo. #INDvsAUS
— Bhuvan Bagga 吧奥文 (@Bhuvanbagga) January 9, 2021
Australia lead by 197 at stumps on Day 3
Meanwhile, at the end of Day 3, Australia have scored 103/2 in their second innings, taking the overall lead to 197 runs. Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were unbeaten on 29 and 47 respectively.
Mohammed Siraj and Ravichandran Ashwin bagged one wicket each. While Ashwin dismissed David Warner (13), Siraj sent back Will Pucovski (10).
Earlier, India were bundled out of 244 in reply to Australia’s 338. Shubman Gill (50) and Pujara smashed half-tons. Rishabh Pant (36), Rohit Sharma (26), Ravindra Jadeja (28 not out), Ajinkya Rahane (22) were other contributors.
Cummins was the pick of the bowlers as he claimed a four-wicket haul for 29 in 21.4 overs. Apart from Cummins, Josh Hazlewood earned two scalps whereas Mitchell Starc took one wicket.