Slow roasted and zapped: India feast on Australia

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Slow roasted and zapped: India feast on Australia

Australia are all but broken and unless their struggling batsmen can reverse their fortunes they will soon be beaten as well after another hellish day against a ruthless India.

It's been just over two weeks since the success in Perth but it must feel much longer than that for Tim Paine's men, whose hopes of squaring the series are next to zero.

Pant-tastic: Rishabh Pant celebrates after bringing up his century.

Pant-tastic: Rishabh Pant celebrates after bringing up his century.Credit:AP

Making an unusual mid-match media appearance, the captain turned to gallows humour, answering the phone of a journalist which rang during his press conference. Perhaps it was a distraction from the grim reality facing he and his team.

Paine denied there was disharmony in the team after bowling coach David Saker and spinner Nathan Lyon both suggested the bowlers were on a different page to the captain.


Every time his team cross the white line, they must get a greater understanding of what life must have been like for touring teams in Australia. Only now, the roles have been reversed and it's the men in the baggy green feeling the pain.

Australia's misery officially ended at 5.01pm – with the ball, that is. Their batsmen, three of whom have not reached three figures, must now run down India's 7/622 – the sixth highest total by a touring team on these shores.

Australia's only consolation from the day was they did not lose a wicket in the 10 overs before stumps, reaching 0/24, but they have a mountain of work to do across the weekend.

The Indians are just days away from completing their first series victory in Australia after their batsmen filled their boots against a tired attack.

Paine had envisaged India's bowlers tiring late in the series but it's his leather slingers who are wilting after six days in the field in the past seven days of play.

"That was something we wnated to do to their attack, we haven't quite been able to do it and they've done it to ours," Paine said. "At the end of a series you can get real rewards if you make teams bowl lots and lots of overs. We saw that today."

Paine and suffering: The Australian captain watches as another ball races away to the boundary.

Paine and suffering: The Australian captain watches as another ball races away to the boundary.Credit:AAP

Cheteshwar Pujara slow-roasted Australia – over 548 minutes, to be precise – whereas Rishabh Pant zapped them in a microwave. Either way, there was plenty to feast upon.

So desperate was Tim Paine for a wicket, he even deployed Usman Khawaja, who had previously bowled only one over in 38 Tests. One delivery was clocked at 66 km/h.

Not even Pujara's wicket could bring much joy for the Australians, who, on pitches without pace and bounce, must be on to plans X and Y to get him out. There may be no need for a plan Z if they cannot avoid the follow-on.

"We've tried lots of different things. He's faced about a million balls this series," Paine said. "We've tried wide of the stumps, at the stumps, Nathan Lyon's been over and around, I don't think there's too many things we haven't tried and he's been too good for us."

The hosts began the day believing they were only two wickets away from breaking open India's batting. How wrong they were. If they did not have a game to win, India could well be still batting.

Pujara's dismissal for 193, off 373 balls, only added to Australia's suffering as it brought about a rapid increase in the scoring rate.

With India already on safe ground, Pant, world cricket's most famous babysitter, enjoyed the freedom of batting with no responsibility, clubbing 159 off 189 balls. He and Ravindra Jadeja, who made 81, added 204 for the seventh wicket.

The bowling figures made for dire reading with all four frontliners posting centuries. It's a far cry from 12 months ago when Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon destroyed England.

Starc is marooned on 199 wickets but this was not the day to be joining the 200-club. Going at five an over with the opposition north of 600 is not the appropriate setting for such a big milestone.

Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald

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