India took a commanding position on Day 2 of the fourth Test against Australia and the batting had plenty to do with it. Once again, India’s batting fared much better than what the hosts have done so far. Cheteshwar Pujara’s 193, Rishabh Pant’s 159 and Ravindra Jadeja’s 81 took India to 622/7 before the visitors declared. Australia, on the other hand, have paid the price for repeated technical and mental mistakes this summer – is the viewpoint of former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.
Pujara stands ahead of the rest of the pack in terms of runs scored and balls faced in the series. He has amassed 521 runs from a record 1,258 balls faced – the most in a four-Test series between India and Australia Down Under. India wicketkeeper-batsman Pant has 350 runs to his name – with the 159 in Sydney being his highest Test score. Kohli, despite having a quiet series by his lofty standards, has accumulated 282 runs including a century.
For Australia, only Travis Head has broken the 200-run barrier, the sole Australian among five other Indians at the top of the series’ run-scorers list. Ponting believes India’s dominance with the bat and absence of an Aussie in the charts is due to the errors Australia’s top order have made throughout the four Tests.
“As far as I’m concerned, this batting group through this series has made way too many mistakes,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “Technical, mental, whatever those mistakes may be, they’ve made a lot of mistakes. It hasn’t necessarily been the first mistake they’ve made either that’s led to them getting out.”
“They’ve made a lot of mistakes then eventually got out. To be fair, India have probably had the best of the batting conditions. The first part of the game in Melbourne was the best time to bat, and now (day one and two) is going to be the best time to bat here in Sydney. You look at the top five run-scorers and four of them are Indians and we’ve got Travis Head sitting at No.5 with 217 runs when Rishabh has got 350 as their keeper-batter. That highlights how little impact our batsmen have had on this series.”
Before the series began, Ponting had pinned Usman Khawaja to be the standout performer from Australia. However, he has managed just one fifty in the series while being kept under wraps by the Indian pace attack. “I think he (Khawaja) has played well,” Ponting said. “He’s struggled to rotate the strike more in this series than ever before. He’s faced a lot of balls.”
“He played really well in the second innings in Perth in a really critical position and got 72 in a good partnership with (skipper Tim) Paine that got the Aussies a big enough lead to go on and win that game. He’s the classiest player we have and probably hasn’t got the rewards out of the series that he would’ve wanted to.”
Ponting has put the onus on Shaun Marsh and Khawaja to scale the 622 run first innings score. “The important thing for the Australians is they have to bat really big,” he said. “Even if it means it’s going to be a drawn game, they have to bat really big because if you look back to Adelaide and certainly the first innings in Melbourne, they let a couple of really good opportunities slip there by not making enough runs in the first innings. To do that it’s going to come down to the senior players, Khawaja and Shaun Marsh. The Aussies need those two guys to stand up.”