Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting has said that Cheteshwar Pujara's 'lacklustre' batting show on the third day kept the hosts in the game. While Pujara finished as India's equal top-scorer with 50 alongside Shubman Gill, Ponting feels that the experienced campaigner needed to change his slow batting approach on Day 3.
Pujara, who had won Man of the Series award in Australia back in 2018, scored 50 off 176 balls at the SCG before he fell prey to Pat Cummins. Pujara's defensive mindset backfired as India were bundled out for 244 in the first innings. Cummins's four-fer dismantled the hosts' batting unit as they lost their last eight wickets for 148 runs in the first two sessions.
"I think (Pujara) has got to be better than that," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"He's 16 off his first 100 balls with no boundaries. That is – and I don't care who you are – if you're at the other end and someone is batting like that, so much more pressure comes back on you because you know you have to be the one that's going to keep the scoreboard ticking over (and) trying to get some momentum going your way as a team.
"If you're going to play that way and bat that long, he's got to back himself to make sure he gets 100, 150 at least. To bat like he did today, finally get a great ball from (fast bowler Pat) Cummins, although he got 50, he just hadn't hurt the Australians at all.
"In fact, batting like he did actually kept Australia in the game. Although Pujara got the 50 that he got, he's as guilty as anyone for slack, lacklustre batting," Ponting further said.
The Aussies first secured a 94-run lead and stretched it to 197 by posting 103/2 in the second innings. Pujara has now been dismissed by Cummins four out of the five times in this series. In his underwhelming stint so far, the right-hander has managed to score just 113 in five innings at an average of 22.6