India vs Australia: Hazlewood hopes Australian batsmen can do a 'Pujara'

AUS vs IND: Cheteshwar Pujara wore down the Australia bowlers by occupying the crease for 1,867 minutes and facing a mammoth 1,258 balls on the 2018-19 tour.

Josh Hazlewood and Cheteshwar Pujara

Josh Hazlewood reacts as Cheteshwar Pujara takes a run during day two of the fourth Australia vs India Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 04, 2019.   -  Getty Images

The last time Australia faced India in a Test series two years ago, India’s No. 3 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara struck three centuries while accumulating 521 runs in seven innings, spending 1,867 minutes at the crease and facing a mammoth 1,258 balls.

Australian fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, a part of that 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar series, credits Pujara for wearing down the fast bowlers, a strategy he hopes his teammates can emulate this time.

“I think what you saw at the time was the bowlers not getting enough rest between innings. Cheteshwar Pujara faced a lot of balls and in a long series, that’s the batman's goal – not only to score runs in that Test, but also keep the frontline attack of the opposition out on the field for as long as possible,” Hazlewood said in a virtual media interaction on Sunday.

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“You get the benefits of that later in the series which is exactly what happened last time around. We spent a lot of time in the field in Melbourne... We sort of rested in between before getting into the Sydney Test.

“Hopefully, we can spring that around this time and keep the Indian bowlers out on the field for as long as possible.”

Short-ball ploy

Australia, however, seemed to have found a way to break Pujara’s resistance. India’s Test No. 3 was caught at leg gully during the Australia A tour match against the Indians at the Drummoyne Oval.

Asked if the leg-gully line of attack and the short ball will be a regular approach against Pujara in the upcoming series, Hazlewood said, “I think at different times, yes, the short ball will be used as a tactic.”

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“It’s probably a strategy all the time in Australia with the sort of bounce and pace our wickets have compared to other countries... And the wickets can also be quite flat from time to time. So, if we are not getting results on the front foot, we will challenge the batsmen with the bouncer and a leg-side field. That’s always been part of the game here, probably from both sides.”

Starting well

Hazlewood also said it is important to start well against Virat Kohli when the Adelaide Test gets underway on December 17. Hazlewood, who got the better of the India captain in all the three One-Day Internationals on this tour, doesn’t feel he has got the wood on Kohli.

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“I’ve had some luck against him of late in the white-ball format. So, you take a little bit of that into the Tests. That said, it’s a fresh start.

“It’s a different story again with the pink ball... He scored runs against us last time with the red ball and I think it’s crucial to start well against him. We’ve only got him for two innings in the one Test in Adelaide.”

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