Resuming from their overnight score of 303-4, India’s batsmen continued to prosper at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Thursday with the tourists ultimately declaring their first innings at 622-7.
In response, Australia had reached 24-0 before stumps were drawn on day two.
At the end of another excellent day for the tourists, we look at the key takeaways.
EXCELLENT PUJARA MISSES OUT ON DOUBLE TON
Despite all the focus on Virat Kohli, it is Cheteshwar Pujara who has stolen the show Down Under with his excellent ton on day one at Sydney marking his third of the series. After putting India in an excellent position on Thursday with his unbeaten 130, Pujara drove home the advantage even further on day two.
The classical batsman continued to build his innings in characteristic fashion as he further swelled his run tally for the series. With the conditions making it the perfect day to bat, Pujara continued to take his toll on Australia’s bowlers in the company of young Rishabh Pant.
The right-hander was looking on course for a special double ton but missed out agonisingly by seven runs as he fell to Nathan Lyon for only the second time in the series. A leading edge while attempting to whip the delivery towards the leg side was gobbled up by the Australian off-spinner himself as the Sydney crowd rose on its feet to give Pujara the standing ovation his superb innings deserved.
PANT SHOWS HIS WORTH WITH RECORD TON
If Australia’s bowlers thought that seeing the back of Pujara would provide some respite, they were grossly mistaken with Rishabh Pant pulling out a record innings from his drawer.
The youngster had batted patiently in the company of Pujara but once the India top-order batsman fell, Pant took centre stage at Sydney as he brought out his natural attacking instincts. With not much help on the pitch for either pacers or spinners, Pant made merry in the company of Ravindra Jadeja with the duo putting on a 204-run stand for the seventh wicket.
Pant survived some minor hiccups in the nervous 90s but he would not be denied the second ton of his still fledgling Test career. In doing so, the 21-year-old became only the first Indian wicketkeeper in history to score a Test century on Australian soil.
To put Pant’s innings in perspective, the youngster has now scored more runs in Australia in just one series than his predecessor MS Dhoni had managed in three tours of the country combined.
AUSSIE OPENERS SURVIVE BUT INDIA ON THE VERGE OF HISTORY
With Virat Kohli calling in India’s batsmen with an hour of play still left on day two, Australia’s openers were in for a testing period against the new ball.
Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris did well to safely negotiate the 10 overs despite the former getting a reprieve from Pant. However, the hosts can kiss their chances of scripting a win in the Test goodbye given the mammoth total put up by India.
With three days left to play along with the prospect of some rain over the weekend, only two results look possible at the moment and none of them sees Australia winning. Stranger things have happened in Test cricket but it would take a collapse of epic proportions from the tourists at this stage to give Australia any chance of victory.
In the end, it was a day which all but sealed India’s first Test series win in Australia.
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