Pant Power Propels India on Record-Breaking Day at SCG


India dominated the proceedings today courtesy of Rishabh Pant's unbeaten 159 and Jadeja's 81.

Senior batsman Usman Khawaja was also called up after a layoff of almost two years as Australia look to find the formula to turn around a poor run of form in time for their World Cup defence in England later this year.

On a day when the SCG was clad in pink to mark the Jane McGrath Day in honour of Australian pace legend Australia Glenn McGrath's late wife, the hosts started on 24/0.

Pujara put together partnerships of 116 with Agarwal, 54 with Kohli, 48 with Rahane and finished the day with an unbroken stand of 75 with Hanuma Vihari (39 not out). After a heroic ton by Cheteshwar Pujara and a record-making century by Rishabh Pant posted a mammoth total on the scoreboard (622/7), before declaring in the third session of the day. He reached a half-century for the second time in the series and looked prime for getting to a maiden Test century at Lunch.

Mitch Marsh was also dropped with Peter Handscomb back to counter India's two spinners - Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja.

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Once he had departed, Pant and Jadeja initially maintained his circumspection before throwing off the shackles and hammering home India's advantage with a partnership of 204.

Pant has also become the second-highest scorer in the ongoing series in Australia, surpassing skipper Virat Kohli's 282 runs.

Australia gambled by picking inexperienced allrounder Marnus Labuschagne to come in at number three and he settled in well, cracking seven boundaries in a stylish 38.

In the last few overs, he was looking a bit uncomfortable as the runs weren't coming easily.

Captain Tim Paine, who has struggled to score runs but has at least averaged 75 balls faced per innings, could not even dig in for a decent amount of time - clean bowled for 5 through a wide-open gate as he attempted to slap Yadav through the off side.

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Kohli, who was dismissed for 23 on day one in Sydney, has been heavily criticised for his on-field behavior over the course of the series which began in December a year ago.

"To be fair, India have probably had the best of the batting conditions". Australian batsmen need to hold their nerves and bat well in the next three days if they want to draw this match.

The tourists have already retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy 2-1 and it will take a monumental effort for Australia to level the series.

The other two matches of the three-ODI series will be played in Adelaide (on January 15) and Melbourne (January 18).

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