It was Pujara’s slowest half-century (off 174 balls) in Test cricket and his eventual dismissal – to what Pujara called “the ball of the series” – perhaps highlighted the perils of going into your shell, especially on a surface where the bounce is uneven.
While he was up against a relentless Australian attack, Pujara could have ideally looked to be more proactive against the pacers and given them something to think about.
“I don’t think it was the right approach, I think he needed to be a bit more proactive with his scoring rate,” former Australian captain Ricky Ponting tweeted.
Against Nathan Lyon, he scored 31 off 42 balls while only 17 runs came off 126 deliveries against the quicks. He likes to trust his template and will argue that it has worked for him in the past, but it means that the bowlers tend to have a bigger margin for error.
The fact that Pujara has not employed the horizontalbat shots has also been a factor in allowing the Australians to build pressure. The absence of Virat Kohli means that a more dominating presence in the middle-order is missing.
Pujara’s run without a Test century now extends to 19 innings, with his last ton coming against this opposition at this very ground two years ago. During that landmark series for India, too, Pujara took similar time to reach his half-centuries but was able to convert three of those innings into centuries.
Cummins has been Pujara’s nemesis in this series, getting him out in four of the five innings. According to the 27-yearold, the Australians have been fine with Pujara occupying the crease as long as the scoreboard is not ticking along.
“We know he is going to hang around. But as long we are controlling the scoreboard, it is fine. At one stage, he had been there for almost 150 balls and they were still 200 runs away from our total. That felt a long way away. We are not overly bothered (as long he is not scoring),” Cummins told reporters on Saturday.
Pujara, though, does not feel there is anything wrong with his method.
“I just have to bat the way I know and continue the same way. Even if I was batting on 100 or 200, I would not have survived that ball by Cummins,” Pujara said.
While Pujara feels that his method gives him the best chance of success, the Australians won’t be complaining.
Unlike the last series where Australia went in with just four specialist bowlers barring one game and were worn out by the end, the presence of an extra option in Cameron Green has also helped the three specialist seamers take a breather when needed.