Pujara 193, Pant 159* grind Australia to dust

Australia 0 for 24 (Harris 19*, Khawaja 5*) trail India 7 for 622 dec (Pujara 193, Pant 159*, Jadeja 81, Agarwal 77, Lyon 4-178) by 598 runs


Martyn: Pujara's centuries take the pressure off Kohli

Ajit Agarkar, Sanjay Manjrekar and Damien Martyn discuss Cheteshwar Pujara's third century of the series

Sydney offered runs to India and misery to Australia as Cheteshwar Pujara amassed 193, Rishabh Pant cruised to 159*, Nathan Lyon complained about his team's tactics and the three 140 kph quicks were bowled into the ground.

So complete was India's hold over the final Test match - and by extension the Border-Gavaskar Trophy - that they had Usman Khawaja - a man who'd only ever bowled one over in his life as an Australian cricketer - lobbing his harmless offspin soon after the tea break.

Mitchell Starc was stuck on 199 Test wickets. Pat Cummins was down on pace. Josh Hazlewood was left waiting for the third new ball. And Australia suffered an 11th instance of being out on the field for 100 overs or more since January 2018. That is not a nice stat. The key stats on the day, anyway, seemed reserved for India, from Pujara facing 1258 deliveries - the fourth-highest by any batsman in a series not longer than four Tests - to Pant becoming the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a century down under.

Even the man who didn't trouble the number crunchers did well. Hanuma Vihari looks a safe bet at No. 6 for India, scoring 42 off 96 balls, and was only dislodged from the crease after a slightly contentious catch at short leg. He was judged out on the field. His review was immediate. He indicated the ball had gone off the forearm. The bowler Lyon too appeared to agree as he joined his team-mates to wait on DRS but snicko suggested a spike as the ball passed the top edge of the sweeping bat.

Those kinds of shots were more the norm on the second day of the New Year's Test. Even the phlegmatic Pujara began with an expansive cover drive and later went past 150 with a down-the-track lash through the same region. India's No. 3 made 51 runs in 82 deliveries this morning and looked set to make his third double-century against Australia but Lyon managed to hoodwink him as he came out of his crease to secure a return catch.

That left the stage open to the antics of a 21-year old in his first year of Test cricket. Pant has found stardom with his stump mic cameos. He may also be the most famous babysitter in the world - without actually doing any babysitting. And the day job's going pretty well too. India already had 329 runs on the board when he came to the crease. He could easily have started throwing his bat around for some quick runs. No one would have blamed him; they might even have celebrated it as the perfect kind of innings from a No. 7.


WATCH - Top three shots from the Pant-Jadeja partnership

Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja put on 204 runs for the seventh wicket to trouble Australia further

But that only applies to wicketkeepers for whom batting is their second string. Pant doesn't belong in that box. He has all the shots. Too many shots. There have been times in the past when he indulges once too often and gets out. Remember the two 92s against West Indies last year? So - as if his resolution for 2019 was to show more responsibility - he played like Pujara with Pujara at the other end. Sure, the runs came at rapid pace, but there weren't too many risks. In fact, through the first 100 deliveries that he faced, there were only five shots hit in the air.

That restraint has served Pant well. He now has 350 runs in this series - which is more than Virat Kohli's tally. It is more than MS Dhoni's tally combining all three of his tours to Australia.

There was plenty of merry-making in the last session of the day with Ravindra Jadeja participating in a seventh-wicket stand that produced 204 runs in only 224 balls, the peak of which was an over when the left-hander crashed Cummins - bowling at 130 kph - to the boundary four times in a single over. His dismissal for 81 off 114 deliveries triggered India's declaration. With 622 on the board, their bowlers had 10 overs to further torture Australia before the safety of stumps. They would have struck in the third over, with Mohammed Shami drawing Khawaja's outside edge, but Pant dropped a straightforward catch.

Australia managed to keep all their wickets but very little is well with them. Simon Katich said the system was setting players up to fail, pointing to the case of Aaron Finch having to open the batting at Test level when he doesn't do so for his state. Shane Warne rubbished the team they had picked to play the one-day series against India. Discontent appears to be brewing even within the team with Lyon questioning why the team had to bowl bouncers soon after drinks on the first day when the pitch - at least back then - had enough moisture to keep pitching it up.

There are still three days left in the Sydney Test. Conditions are glorious for batting. Australia's batsmen have to stand up and show their character and earn a draw. Only a draw won't be enough for them. It would still mean they'd lose their first Test series at home to India.