India vs Australia: 'He plays a massive role for them,' Josh Hazlewood cherishes dismissing 'key' India batsman
- India vs Australia: Each wicket is special for Hazlewood but the fast bowler is highly content with one dismissal in particular.
Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood admitted that Australia missed their mark after having India six down which allowed the visitors to come back in the Test, but at the same time credited Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar for their counter-attacking approach that allowed India to narrow down their first-innings deficit to 33 when the number could easily have been a lot bigger.
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Thakur and Sundar added 123 runs for the seventh wicket after India were reduced to 186/6 shortly after lunch. Both batsmen hit their maiden Test fifties which took India's total to 336 when they looked like getting bowled out for a lot less. Hazlewood accepted that Australia's bowlers could have been a lot better, while praising Thakur and Sundar's rearguard effort.
"We didn't probably execute well as we could have in that period but (we) created a few little half chances. On any other day, hopefully we take those, but credit to those two guys (Shardul and Washington)," Hazlewood said after the end of Day 3.
"They batted beautifully and I think it just shows the wicket is pretty good. I thought the guys did bowl really well again and everyone else backed us up. Just let a few moments slipped, I think, and also a few a half-chances there. If we could have grabbed them, it could have made a little difference."
The Australia quick claimed his ninth five-wicket-haul in Tests – the second in the series – finishing with 5/57. He gave Australia their first breakthrough of the day by dismissing Cheteshwar Pujara before removing Mayank Agarwal first over after lunch. Shortly after, he dismissed the dangerous Rishabh Pant before taking out Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj to wipe out India's tail. Each wicket is special for Hazlewood but the fast bowler is highly content with Pujara's dismissal in particular.
"It is huge. He (Pujara) is obviously, probably the key wicket, one of the couple of key wickets there at the top order," Hazlewood said of Pujara's dismissal. "If we can knock Pujara early, we get five, six, seven numbers in with a relatively hard and newish ball, so he plays a massive role for them and Patty (Pat Cummins) obviously has been on top of him this whole series. He has still batted a bit of time here and there but we have really squeezed on the runs and I think that is playing on in his mind and bringing to his downfall."
Hazlewood reflected on Thakur's innings, which saw the batsman play some lovely stokes, especially off fast bowlers. He played a sensational cover drive and an aerial square cut off the first over after tea off Mitchell Starc before bludgeoning back foot cover drive for four, which could be a candidate for the shot of the day.
"It is a bit of frustration obviously, sometimes when you reduce a team to six down and you are on your way to knock them over, but as I said teams bat all the way down, specially some of the teams like England," Hazlewood said.
"Credit to him (Shardul), we missed our marking a little-bit in that little period. Probably bowled a touch short and bit of width here and there and just let him off the hook a little bit there and probably did not build the pressure, the way we wanted to."