Gulftimes : Pujara torments Australia with third century

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With spin considered a traditional factor in any Sydney Test, India were left fretting over the fitness of off-spinner R Ashwin, who is yet to recover from left abdominal strain that laid him low after the first Test in Adelaide. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, is, in all probability, out of the encounter too after failing to recover in time from his side strain.

Pujara, who has faced more balls and scored more than anyone else in the series, slowly picked off runs, leaving any flamboyance to others, to bring up his 21st Test half-century in 134 balls.

Skipper Tim Paine has refrained from announcing his playing XI just yet although Marnus Labuschagne is expected to be introduced in the playing XI.

Once again laying the platform for a sizeable first innings score, Pujara took his tally in the four-match series to 458 runs with the prospect of more to follow.

India batsman Rishabh Pant (L) celebrates his 150 runs with teammate Ravindra Jadeja (R) on the second day of the fourth and final Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on January 4, 2019. The rest of the line-up is likely to remain the same with Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja and Travis Head having done their bits to play the first Test of the year.

India began the second day at 303 for four and proceeded to twist the knife against a demoralised home team that toiled in hot conditions with little joy.

"A great lesson to all batsmen in the series and tests in general", he said.

In doing so, Pant became the youngest wicketkeeper to hit a century in Australia, proving he has just as much poise as power.

However, Pujara continued to perfectly time his shots at the other end and steadied India's innings with some handsome and sometimes stunning strokeplay to notch up his ton off 199 delivery. Firstly, he went past 153, his previous highest overseas Test score, against both South Africa (Johannesburg, 2013) and Sri Lanka (Galle, 2017).

Pujara smashed 13 boundaries enroute to the 18th Test century of his career.

The ICC's criteria, introduced early a year ago, states for an average pitch: 'Lacks carry, and/or bounce and/or occasional seam movement, but consistent in carry and bounce.