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Dharamsala shootout: Pujara snubs Smith, says momentum is with India

Cheteshwar Pujara has responded to Steve Smith’s jibe that Australia had the momentum heading into the Dharamsala Test after India failed to bowl the visitors out on a wearing pitch in Ranchi.

cricket Updated: Mar 23, 2017 20:33 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Ind vs Aus

Cheteshwar Pujara arrives with his wife at Dharamsala airport ahead of the fourth and last Test match between India and Australia. (PTI)

Cheteshwar Pujara hit back at Steve Smith after the Australian captain said the visitors had the upper hand in Ranchi Test.

Speaking at a media conference here on Thursday ahead of the Dharamsala Test, Cheteshwar Pujara, who set up a potential win for India with his third double ton and a 199-run stand with Wriddhiman Saha, said it was India who actually dictated the terms in Ranchi.

Read| In cool Dharamsala, Cheteshwar Pujara reveals what helps him score big runs

“We bowled really well. At one point, they scored 450 and we managed to score over 600. At one point, they were four down at lunch. Overall, they were six down.

“We had an upper hand for most parts of the game and although we did not win the game, we just had to bat once while Australia batted twice,” Pujara said.

On a Day 5 Ranchi pitch, Australia hung in and secured their first draw in India since 2008 to head into the Dharamsala Test 1-1.

After the match, Australia skipper Steve Smith praised the efforts of Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh, who stitched a 124-run stand and played out 62.1 overs. Smith took a jibe at India, saying the draw would hurt the home team.

Read| Dale Steyn’s gift catalyst for true wicket in India vs Australia Dharamsala Test

“If there’s anything called momentum, it’s with us at the moment. India would have expected to bowl us out. I’m sure they’re hurting a little bit. If there’s anything with momentum, it’s probably on our side at the minute,” Smith had said.

Australia opener David Warner will be itching to get back to form in the final Test in Dharamsala starting Saturday. (PTI)

Focus has shifted elsewhere

Besides the action on the field, the current series between India and Australia has seen controversies. The DRS fiasco, accusations of Smith ‘cheating’, Ishant Sharma’s monkey faces and Glenn Maxwell mocking Virat Kohli’s shoulder injury have all dominated headlines.

Read| Virat Kohli-Donald Trump comparison a load of s**t: Michael Clarke

In addition, the Australian media have gone after India skipper Virat Kohli aggressively. From Fox Sports nominating Kohli for ‘Vettel of the Week’ award on their Facebook page to the Daily Telegraph calling Kohli the Donald Trump of world sport, the off-field controversies have refused to die down.

Pujara has said that all this has been very disappointing. “We totally support Kohli. I think the focus has shifted somewhere else which was not supposed to happen,” he said.

Played on different pitches this season

The 2016/17 season is drawing to a close and India have enjoyed a fabulous time. Out of 12 Tests, India have won nine and lost one with two draws. With such a long season, the issue of player fatigue rises but Pujara brushed aside that fact.

“We have worked hard on our physical fitness. It is the mental battle that we must win. We want to win the series and thus, fatigue will not be a factor,” the solid right-hander said.

When asked about how the Dharamsala wicket looked like, Pujara stated, “It looks like a great wicket. We have played on different pitches this season and so we are not concerned about this wicket.”