Ricky Ponting: Cheteshwar Pujara’s slow innings may cost India Melbourne Test

Cheteshwar Pujara’s slow century could come back to haunt India if it doesn’t find time to bowl Australia out twice, says Ricky Ponting.

In the bubble: Cheteshwar Pujara en route to his 106 on Day Three in Melbourne.   -  AFP

Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain, is baffled by India’s slow batting in the third Test here.

India’s 443 for seven is its slowest first-innings score of more than 300 in Australia, in 33 years. Cheteshwar Pujara scored 106 off 319 deliveries, an effort Ponting considers could cost India the Test. None of India’s top five batsmen scored at a strike-rate of more than 50.

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“If India go on and win the game, it’ll be a great innings [but] if they haven’t got time to bowl Australia out twice, it could be what actually costs them the game,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “I think it’s always hard for India to push the run-rate along when Pujara’s there. He’s just made another hundred, his second of the series, so he’s playing well and doesn’t really look like getting out.

Pujara’s ‘little bubble’

“But he just locks himself in this little bubble where scoring doesn’t seem to faze him at all. They have got other guys in their side who are stroke-makers but if those guys don’t come off, the scoring rate is always going to be hovering around that two-runs-an-over mark, which makes it pretty hard to win Test matches, especially on flat wickets like we might have here.”

Ricky Ponting felt India's tactics during the first innings were beyond comprehension. Photo: PTI

 

Ponting said India’s tactics were beyond comprehension. “Even [after Pujara’s dismissal], it just seems like they haven’t got a lot of direction about what they’re trying to achieve. It looks like they want to bat long enough to only bat once, but just yet they haven’t got enough runs to do that. Obviously, they’ve talked long and hard about what they want to do, it’s just a bit baffling to us,” he said.

Short-ball tonic

Ponting also encouraged Australia to pepper Kohli with short balls. “The ball before he got out, he played a really good pull shot over mid-on, so he looked like he was moving free enough at that stage. I just think it was the intent that was shown. I’d love to see them start more that way against Kohli. He doesn’t play too many cross-bat shots early on [in his innings], so I think that’s maybe something the Australians could look at and target for the rest of the series.

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“[It] actually forced Kohli, and Pujara to a certain degree, out of their bubble. Both of those guys were in their bubble, they weren’t taking any risks and they were playing the way they wanted to play,” he said.