Australia A skipper Travis Head expressed satisfaction over a tactical success on Sunday, which saw his side dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara using a leg-gully, and claimed that it was a plan he devised together with Tim Paine. Using the short-ball tactic, the hosts got the better of Pujara for 54.
It took the Australia A side all of 14 balls to send the Indians a mighty warning ahead of the Tests, dismissing both the Indian openers for a duck, but they were struck with PTSD the moment Cheteshwar Pujara strode to face his first ball. The Aussie slayer in the 2018/19 tour, Pujara looked in indomitable touch from ball one of the three-day game, and despite the conditions being heavily bowler-friendly, tormented the Australian bowlers with his patience and shot selection. The right-hander looked all set for a daddy hundred, and raced off to fifty just after lunch, but was surprisingly sent back to the hut for 54 by an interesting tactic employed by the hosts.
The Aussies bowled short at Pujara, aimed the ball at his hips and cramped him for room, and after resisting for over two hours, the 32-year-old succumbed to a snorter from James Pattinson, which was caught by Marcus Harris at leg-gully. Speaking at the close of Day 1, Australia A skipper Travis Head expressed delight over the plan’s success and insisted that, he felt, the ploy suffocated Pujara.
"I worked closely with Painey out there and tried a few different things. We're day one into this and it was our first crack at him. We've got another innings and then another game before the first Test so nice that one plan was able to work,” Head said, reported ESPNCricinfo.
"We know what he can bring and he brought that again today, so there was no surprises from that. But I felt like the way we were able to bowl to him from that stage and suffocate and shut down the scoreboard against him was really good. It was nice to see the back of him."
Australia A did dismiss Pujara with the short-ball ploy, but only after he’d notched up a half-century, struck five boundaries and faced 140 balls. The 32-year-old carefully negated everything the hosts threw at him in the initial part of his innings. Head acknowledged Pujara’s quality and admitted that, despite the right-hander falling prey to a short ball on Day 1, the hosts would need to be flexible with their plans come the Test series.
"At the start we were trying to get him caught behind and caught in the slips. That was the way it was playing, but once the ball got softer it became more stump-to-stump," Head said.
"I guess you rotate through plans A, B and C, and I think a lot determines on who's bowling and what type of wickets we're playing on. It's a lot different at the Adelaide Oval to the MCG and Sydney."
An Ajinkya Rahane ton took India to a score of 247/9 on Day 1 and on Day 2, a ton from young Cameron Green on Day 2 helped the hosts take a 39-run lead. Pujara will be expected to be in action once again on Day 3 on Tuesday.