Australia v India talking points: Pant smashes record ton as time runs out for hosts

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Rishabh Pant made history for India at Sydney.

India strengthened their grip on the fourth and final Test against Australia at Sydney with the visitors running dominant on day two.

Resuming from their overnight score of 303-4, India’s batsmen continued to prosper at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Thursday with the tourists ultimately declaring their first innings at 622-7.

In response, Australia had reached 24-0 before stumps were drawn on day two.

At the end of another excellent day for the tourists, we look at the key takeaways.

EXCELLENT PUJARA MISSES OUT ON DOUBLE TON

Despite all the focus on Virat Kohli, it is Cheteshwar Pujara who has stolen the show Down Under with his excellent ton on day one at Sydney marking his third of the series. After putting India in an excellent position on Thursday with his unbeaten 130, Pujara drove home the advantage even further on day two.

The classical batsman continued to build his innings in characteristic fashion as he further swelled his run tally for the series. With the conditions making it the perfect day to bat, Pujara continued to take his toll on Australia’s bowlers in the company of young Rishabh Pant.

The right-hander was looking on course for a special double ton but missed out agonisingly by seven runs as he fell to Nathan Lyon for only the second time in the series. A leading edge while attempting to whip the delivery towards the leg side was gobbled up by the Australian off-spinner himself as the Sydney crowd rose on its feet to give Pujara the standing ovation his superb innings deserved.

A standing ovation for Cheteshwar Pujara.

A standing ovation for Cheteshwar Pujara.

PANT SHOWS HIS WORTH WITH RECORD TON

If Australia’s bowlers thought that seeing the back of Pujara would provide some respite, they were grossly mistaken with Rishabh Pant pulling out a record innings from his drawer.

The youngster had batted patiently in the company of Pujara but once the India top-order batsman fell, Pant took centre stage at Sydney as he brought out his natural attacking instincts. With not much help on the pitch for either pacers or spinners, Pant made merry in the company of Ravindra Jadeja with the duo putting on a 204-run stand for the seventh wicket.

Pant survived some minor hiccups in the nervous 90s but he would not be denied the second ton of his still fledgling Test career. In doing so, the 21-year-old became only the first Indian wicketkeeper in history to score a Test century on Australian soil.

To put Pant’s innings in perspective, the youngster has now scored more runs in Australia in just one series than his predecessor MS Dhoni had managed in three tours of the country combined.

An innings to savour for the youngster.

An innings to savour for the youngster.

AUSSIE OPENERS SURVIVE BUT INDIA ON THE VERGE OF HISTORY

With Virat Kohli calling in India’s batsmen with an hour of play still left on day two, Australia’s openers were in for a testing period against the new ball.

Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris did well to safely negotiate the 10 overs despite the former getting a reprieve from Pant. However, the hosts can kiss their chances of scripting a win in the Test goodbye given the mammoth total put up by India.

With three days left to play along with the prospect of some rain over the weekend, only two results look possible at the moment and none of them sees Australia winning. Stranger things have happened in Test cricket but it would take a collapse of epic proportions from the tourists at this stage to give Australia any chance of victory.

In the end, it was a day which all but sealed India’s first Test series win in Australia.

Tim Paine and Australia have run out of time.

Tim Paine and Australia have run out of time.

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Injured Pakistan batsman Haris Sohail ruled out of the remainder of South Africa tour

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Pakistan batsman Haris Sohail.

Pakistan will have to make do without the services of Haris Sohail for the remainder of the tour of South Africa with the batsman remaining sidelined with a knee injury.

According to a report by PakPassion, Sohail requires a further three to four weeks to make a recovery and thus will not be able to take part in the upcoming second and third Tests against the Proteas.

The left-hander was all set to feature for Pakistan in the series opener at Centurion before pulling out on the morning of the first day with a knee injury.

In his place, Shan Masood was given a go in the playing XI with the middle-order batsman chipping in with a solid 65 in the second innings.

With Sohail out of the remainder of the tour, Masood is expected to keep his spot in the playing XI in the second Test at Newlands, Cape Town which gets underway on Thursday.

29-year-old Sohail has so far played 10 Tests for Pakistan in which he has scored 721 runs at an average of 40. The Sialkot-born batsman has been plagued with recurring knee injuries ever since he made his ODI debut in 2013.

Sarfraz Ahmed and his Pakistan team currently trail 0-1 in the three-match series against South Africa after going down by six wickets in the opening Test at Centurion.

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Nepal's Lamichhane heads for Bangladesh Premier League after successful BBL stint

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Lamichhane (l) impressed in his maiden BBL stint.

Nepal sensation Sandeep Lamichhane has bid adieu to the Big Bash League (BBL) after a successful maiden stint with the Melbourne Stars.

The teenage leg-spinner impressed highly in the four games he played for the Stars while picking up a total of eight wickets.

On Tuesday, Lamichhane returned with figures of 1-18 from his four overs to play a big role in Stars’ seven-wicket over the Renegades in the Melbourne derby.

The Nepal star bamboozled Renegades skipper Tom Cooper with a googly to help the restrict the opposition to 148-8 in their 20 overs. An unbeaten 78 from Australia all-rounder Marcus Stoinis helped the Stars to a comfortable victory as Lamichhance’s BBL stint came to a winning end.

The teenager had quickly developed a cult-status in Melbourne with a large and passionate Nepalese fan contingent cheering him on in every game that he played.

Lamichhane will now join up with the Sylhet Sixers squad for his maiden foray in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) which gets underway on January 5.

“It was great playing some early few games for Melbourne Stars! An amazing win last night against the Renegades and now am off to Bangladesh for the BPL representing Sylhet Sixers! Wishing good luck to everyone for upcoming games to the Stars family. Cheers,” Lamichhane wrote on his Twitter account upon his departure for Bangladesh.

It has been a whirlwind 2018 for the Nepal prodigy who became the first player from his country to play in the IPL after earning a contract with Delhi Capitals. Following his maiden appearance in the IPL, Lamichhane undertook stints in the Global T20 Canada and Caribbean Premier League before ending the year with the BBL in Australia.

Following the completion of his BPL stint with Sylhet Sixers, Lamichhane will turn out for Lahore Qalandars in the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

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