SYDNEY • A marathon century by Cheteshwar Pujara and a swashbuckling ton from Rishabh Pant all but ended Australia's hopes of saving the cricket series yesterday, as India built a massive 622 for seven declared in the final Sydney Test.
The tourists began the second day at 303 for four and proceeded to twist the knife against a demoralised home team who toiled in hot conditions with little joy.
Unless Australia win, India will claim a first-ever series victory Down Under since they began touring here in 1947-48. They lead 2-1.
Despite the tall task ahead, Australia skipper Tim Paine said they were not ready to throw in the towel.
"We certainly won't be doing that, we will be fighting as hard as we can for the next three days. Cricket's one of those games, if you keep doing that, it can turn really quickly," he said.
"But you've got to tip your cap to India. They have worked extremely hard for 31/2 Tests to get us to where they want us today."
Pujara made a masterful 193 off 373 balls, while Pant stroked to his highest Test score in an entertaining 159 not out.
Ravindra Jadeja chipped in with a lively 81 in a 204-run stand with Pant, a record seventh-wicket partnership at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Skipper Virat Kohli finally declared when Jadeja was out, with the tireless Nathan Lyon taking 4-178 off 57.2 gruelling overs.
It left new-look Australian openers Marcus Harris (19) and Usman Khawaja (5) to negotiate 10 tricky overs before stumps after a torturous day in the field. They ended at 24 without loss.
"Every hundred I score is special for me because I have just started my career. But I don't really think about hundreds, I only think about what the team needs from me," said Pant, who sympathised with the Australian bowlers.
"Obviously when you bowl for two days, the body gets tired, but their body language was really good, they were pushing themselves and trying their level best."
AUSTRALIA V INDIA
4th Test, day 3: Singtel TV Ch123 & StarHub Ch236, 7.30am