Melbourne: Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting found India's slow batting baffling in the third Test and feels that Cheteshwar Pujara's 106 off 319 balls may end up being the reason for their defeat.
India scored at less than two-and-a-half runs an over for most of the first two days of the Test, registering the slowest first-innings score of more than 300 in Australia for three decades.
Pujara consumed 319 deliveries for his 106-run knock as none of India's top five batsmen scored at a strike rate of more than 50. Even captain Virat Kohli, who paces his innings decently, scored his 82 off 204 balls with a strike rate of 40.19 on a slow track.
"If India go on and win the game, it'll be a great innings (but) if they haven't got time to bowl Australia out twice, it could be what actually costs them the game," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"I think it's always hard for India to push the run rate along when Pujara's there. He's just made another hundred, his second of the series, so he's playing well and doesn't really look like getting out.
"But he just locks himself in this little bubble where scoring doesn't seem to faze him at all. They have got other guys in their side who are stroke-makers but if those guys don't come off, the scoring rate is always going to be hovering around that two runs an over mark, which makes it pretty hard to win Test matches, especially on flat wickets like we might have here."
The former Test captain Ricky Ponting said India's tactics was beyond comprehension.
"Even (since Pujara's dismissal), it just seems like they haven't got a lot of direction about what they're trying to achieve. It looks like they want to bat long enough to only bat once, but just yet they haven't got enough runs to do that.
"Obviously they've talked long and hard about what they want to do, it's just a bit baffling to us."
Ponting also encouraged Australia to barrage Kohli with short balls.
"The ball before he got out, he played a really good pull shot over mid-on, so he looked like he was moving free enough at that stage. I just think it was the intent that was shown. I'd love to see them start more that way against Kohli.
"He doesn't play too many cross-bat shots early on (in his innings), so I think that's maybe something the Australians could look at and target for the rest of the series."
"(It) actually forced Kohli, and Pujara to a certain degree, out of their bubble. Both of those guys were in their bubble, they weren't taking any risks and they were playing the way they wanted to play.
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India started day five on 98-2 but despite losing Ajinkya Rahane in the second over, they batted out the day to finish on 334 for five - helped by Paine's three dropped catches behind the stumps.
Pujara, whose dogged half-centuries (50, 77) in the third Test helped India draw the match, is placed eighth, just behind his stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who lost one place.
Ashwin, who made 39 off 128 balls, and Vihari pulled off a remarkable draw for India on day five of the third Test against Australia. Vihari pulled his hamstring at the start of his innings and was struggling to run between the wickets.