Sydney: Cheteshwar Pujara continued to pile on the runs, taking India to 389 for 5 at lunch on the second day of the fourth and final Test against Australia here on Friday. Pujara recorded his highest overseas score as he was batting on 181 not out while Rishabh Pant was unbeaten on 27 runs with the duo putting on 60 runs for the sixth wicket at the break.
Starting from overnight 303-4, Pujara brought up his seventh 150 plus innings in Test cricket and took his fifth-wicket partnership with Hanuma Vihari (42) to 101 runs. The duo came out with the intent to grind down the Australian bowling attack and looked content with batting for time. It backfired as Vihari’s hard work went to waste when he was caught at short leg off Nathan Lyon (2-116) in the 102nd over. There was the faintest blip on snickometer and the decision stayed in Australia’s favour despite Vihari’s quick DRS review.
Pant, on 8, had a loud shot for caught behind turned down in the 106th over as Tim Paine called for a DRS review. But there was nothing and he batted on. From there onwards, the duo put on a chanceless partnership to dash Australian hopes further. At the other end, Pujara batted solidly as ever and reached his 150 off 282 balls. His slow grinding partnership with Vihari meant that only 32 runs came off the first hour of play. But he and Pant upped the ante in the second hour, adding another 54 runs later in the session.
Pujara crossed another few milestones during this morning session. Firstly, he went past 153, his previous highest overseas Test score, against both South Africa (Johannesburg, 2013) and Sri Lanka (Galle, 2017). He also became only the third Indian batsman to score 500-plus runs in a Test series against Australia, after Rahul Dravid in 2003-04 and Virat Kohli in 2014-15. In doing so, he also batted 1200-plus deliveries thus far in the four matches, the most for an Indian batsman against Australia in a Test series, ahead of Dravid’s 1203 balls faced in 2003-04. Pujara had finished day one on 130 not out, his 18th Test hundred and third century of this on-going series. India have an unassailable 2-1 series’ lead after winning the first Test in Adelaide by 31 runs and the third Test in Melbourne by 137 runs. Australia had won the second Test in Perth by 146 runs.