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India’s Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli deserve high praise

Australia’s Peter Siddle also deserves credit for his gritty batting in a losing side

Gulf News

India made history of sorts when they beat Australia at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla to win all four Test matches. The manner in which the pitch was playing meant that the target set for the Indians to chase was not going to be easy.

It was just the kind of small total (155) that gets teams into trouble as they take it a bit easy and before you know it you lose a couple of wickets and the pressure suddenly builds up. That did not happen because two of India’s most promising batsmen and, on whose shoulders India’s batting will depend over the next decade, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, were alert and alive to the need of not letting the opposition get a foothold in the match. They thus set off after the dangerman of the first innings, Nathan Lyon, and made him bowl a shorter length and a leg stump line which negated his effectiveness. It was not just top-class batting, but clever thinking by both youngsters.

Australia also missed a trick or two by not letting an already fired-up Peter Siddle have a go at the Indians from the other end to Nathan Lyon. With the confidence of his batting performances, he would have been able to create a few problems in the initial overs and that was what the Australians needed to create some doubt in the Indian minds. Pujara was simply brilliant as he made batting look easy and stroked his way to over 400 runs in the series. Kohli, meanwhile, smartly played himself in before going for his shots.

That India was chasing a small target was thanks in the main to Ravindra Jadeja’s spell in which he simply did not let the Australians breathe easy. Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha also sealed the other end and, while there were eyebrows raised when Ishant Sharma was brought on and taken for a few boundaries, he repaid the faith the skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had put in him by breaking the annoying partnership between Siddle and James Pattinson.

No praise can be too high for the manner in which Peter Siddle batted in both innings. He applied himself, didn’t push hard at the ball and, when there was a bit of room given to free his arms, he got himself boundaries. Unfortunately, the top-order Australian batting simply had no idea how to bat on a surface like this and there was a procession of them coming in, registering their presence at the crease and leaving almost as soon as they had come in to bat.

It was a heartening performance for India, especially after the drubbing in Australia and the recent series loss to England. That it was made possible mostly through the exploits of the younger generation bodes well for Indian cricket. Well done, Mahi and Team India!