Pujara century gives India fine start in final Test

SYDNEY • Cheteshwar Pujara put Australia to the sword with an unbeaten 130 in India's 303 for four on the opening day of the fourth Test yesterday, keeping the tourists firmly on track for a historic win with his third century of the series.

The hosts, desperately scrapping to avoid being the first Australia team to lose a series to India on home soil, had their successes and managed to dislodge Mayank Agarwal after a bright 77, Virat Kohli for 23 and Ajinkya Rahane for 18.

Pujara, however, would just not budge and eked out his innings at a rate of little more than a run every other ball to take his series tally to 458 and add another ton to those that helped India to wins in Adelaide and Melbourne.

Those victories to Australia's one win in Perth means India need to only avoid defeat at the Sydney Cricket Ground to secure a maiden Test series win since they began touring Down Under in 1947-48.

Again India's rock, Pujara put together 116 with Agarwal, 54 with Kohli, 48 with Rahane and finished the day with an unbroken stand of 75 with Hanuma Vihari.

"It's great to watch him from the other end, the way he grinds the bowlers," Agarwal said of Pujara.

"We're very happy. We would have liked to be probably three down but 300 for four on the first day after choosing to bat, I think we're in a great position."

India have never lost a Test when Kohli has won the toss, winning 18 and drawing three, and it could prove decisive on a pitch expected to be conducive to spin as it wears.

"He was classy, wasn't he? His time, his patience, he was just very good," said Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne, whose spin bowling took a battering from Pujara.

"That's what we need to be to put a big score on the board."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2019, with the headline 'Pujara century gives India fine start in final Test'. Print Edition | Subscribe