India vs Australia 4th Test Sydney: Cheteshwar Pujara brings up his 18th Test century off 199 balls in the fourth and final Test against Australia at the Sydney Test Ground on Thursday. He got his third century of the four-match Test series with a boundary off pacer Mitchell Starc. The 30-year-old also joined to an elite club of legends like Dravid, Gavaskar, Kohli on the Aussie soils in terms of the number of balls faced in a Test series Down Under. He became fifth Indian batsmen to have faced 1,000 or more balls in a Test series in Australia.
Meanwhile, the final session has been a fine one for the Aussie bowlers as they bagged the wickets of Kohli and Rahane and halted India’s momentum. However, Pujara kept his nerves to display another top performance. The hosts will be looking to capitalize on the inexperienced Vihari and Pant to keep India below 300.
At stumps, Pujara (130) and Hanuma Vihari (39) were holding the fort for the visiting side, which is in pursuit of a maiden Test series triumph on Australian soil. Virat Kohli’s men have already secured the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with their unassailable lead. At the Sydney Cricket Ground, Pujara faced 250 balls, hitting 16 of them for fours, and added 75 runs for the unbeaten fifth-wicket stand with Vihari.
Post-Tea, Australia were able to make a quick breakthrough as Virat Kohli (23) was caught down leg. They had consistently bowled towards the leg-stump against the Indian skipper, cramping him for room and the ploy worked as he gloved behind off Josh Hazlewood (2-51) in the first over after the break.
It brought Ajinkya Rahane (18) to the crease, who faced the same tactic. Cramping the batsmen for room, the hosts were able to put a check on the scoring rate as only 36 runs came in the first hour of play after tea.
Unlike his counter-attacking style in the first three Tests, Rahane was subdued on this occasion as he looked to settle down. But Mitchell Starc (1-75) had him caught behind in the 71st over with a sharp-rising unplayable bouncer. India crossed 200 in the 63rd over, but needed a partnership at this juncture. Vihari proved to be a handy partner for Pujara as the duo put on 50 runs in 72 balls.
Vihari kept the scoreboard ticking with minimum fuss, batting at a strike-rate of 67.2.
He took pressure off Pujara at the other end, who was solid as ever, and celebrated his 18th Test hundred off 199 balls. In doing so, he went past 438 runs against England in 2012-13 as the most he had scored previously in a Test series.
This was also the fourth time he faced 200-plus deliveries in the current series, going past Sunil Gavaskar’s record of three such instances back in 1977-78.
Earlier, Pujara put on 54 runs with Kohli as India reached 177-2 at tea. Post lunch, Agarwal and Pujara continued their second-wicket partnership to 116 runs. The duo put on an attacking show after the break, with their 100-run stand coming off 178 balls