Domain Tests v India
Marnus schooled by Pujara masterclass
The Australian rookie thinks he can learn a lot from the way Cheteshwar Pujara batted on the opening day of the SCG Test
Sam Ferris at the SCG
3 January 2019, 07:46 PM AEST
If Australia's new No.3 Marnus Labuschagne ever needed a crash course in batting in the pivotal position he had a front row seat to a masterclass from India's Cheteshwar Pujara today.
For 381 minutes on day one of the fourth Domain Test at the SCG, Pujara defied the Australians to score his third century of the series, an unbeaten 130 in India's imposing 4-303 at stumps.
Pujara changed between the gears smoother than an F1 race car driver as he mixed patience and precision in his 250-ball stay at the crease which netted 16 boundaries.
Labuschagne has been instilled as Pujara's counterpart in Australia's new-look batting line-up and the Test rookie says he can learn a lot from the way the obdurate Indian has batted this series.
"He was very classy, wasn't he?," Labuschagne said after stumps in Sydney.
"His time, patience around the crease and just the way he batted was very good.
"I think it's something I personally can take a lot from.
"He just batted a lot of time and I think that's something he's done through this whole series.
"That's what we're going to need to do and all our batters are going to need to step up and put a big score on the board."
If Labuschagne, who spent a large portion of the day under the lid at short-leg, didn't have the best seat in the house to watch the Pujara exhibition, then India opener Mayank Agarwal can claim to have the platinum ticket.
Pujara and Agarwal put on 116 in 32 overs for the second wicket to lay a solid foundation for the visitors who just need to avoid defeat to win their first Test series ever on Australian soil.
"It's great to watch him bat from the other end and keep watching him bat," Agarwal said.
"The way he grinds the bowlers. He's got a pattern to it, he understands his strengths, he sticks to that, he knows he's very tight with his defence.
"He looks to do that and he waits for the bad ball to come."
While Labuschagne has a Pujara tutorial up his sleeve, the right-hander can call upon his experience batting at first-drop at JLT Sheffield Shield level.
Marnus has spent more than half his career (38 of 72 innings) batting at No.3 for the Bulls, where he's scored two centuries and averages 35.84.
The 24-year-old says that experience will hold him in good stead when it's his turn to bat tomorrow.
"I've pretty much batted most of my time at Queensland at three," Labuschagne said.
"It does give me confidence going out in a position that I'm comfortable with.
"It's going to be a good challenge and one I'm looking forward to."
Domain Test Series v India
Dec 6-10: India won by 31 runs
Dec 14-18: Australia won by 146 runs
Dec 26-30: India won by 137 runs
Jan 3-7: Fourth Test, SCG
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c, wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Mitch Marsh (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar