Pat Cummins opened up on the Australian team plan to combat Cheteshwar Pujara in the ongoing four-match Test series. Cummins has got a upper hand over Pujara so far in the series as he dismissed the right-handed batsman four times out of five. On Saturday also, Pujara became the victim of Cummins’s excellent delivery.

Pujara has been criticised for his ultra-defensive approach in the series so far and instead of propping up his team’s response to Australia’s first innings total of 338 all out, his painstakingly slow 50 off 176 balls on the third day of the third Test here derailed India’s momentum.

Cummins claims against Pujara you have to bowl a lot to get him out.

“Today I got a bit of assistance from the pitch. But he (Pujara) is someone you know you are going to have to bowl a lot at,” Cummins said during the virtual post-day press conference.

Cummins was the pick of the bowlers from Australia as he returned with the figure of 4/29 in the first innings as Australia bundled out India for just 244 to take a healthy 94 runs lead.

The Australia pace spearhead said that the plan against Pujara was always to make it hard as possible for him to score runs and put him under pressure.

“We got our head around that this series, for him to score runs, we are going to make it as hard as possible, and whether he bats for 200-300 balls, we would just try and bowl good ball after good ball, challenge both sides of his bat, and fortunately, so far it has worked.”

Cummins was asked about Pujara’s slow scoring rate and the pressure it puts on other batsmen.

“It’s one of those things. You know he (Pujara) is going to hang around. As long as you are controlling the scoreboard. At one stage he had been out there for 200 balls or 150 balls and I looked up there thinking they are still 200 away from our first-innings total.

“So, that fell a long way away and if we continue bowling well, you’re not overly bothered.”

“I think having Greeny (Chris Green) in there as a bowling option as well helps so we’re not having those big 20-over days,” he said.

By stumps on the third day, the hosts had extended the lead to 197 runs by reaching 103 for two.

According to Cummins, his team is in a great position but he expects India to bounce back.

“I think, at the start of the day, I was kind of hoping that we wouldn’t end the day still having to bowl, so to be having 200 lead with eight wickets in hand on a wicket that is deteriorating pretty quickly, great result,” the 27-year-old added.

“I think they are a good side, I am sure they are going to bounce back but in terms of getting the bowlers back out there for another day, they have now bowled for three days in a row, those kinds of things do add up,” he added.

Cummins said the hosts would look to take the lead beyond 300 runs at least.

“The big thing is to keep that lead get up over 300-odd and hopefully the wicket keeps deteriorating and make that a really tough total to score on day four and five,” he added.

For India, both Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja were sent for scans after taking nasty blows while batting.

Asked if that gives Australia a mental edge, Cummins said, “We would wait and see, who knows. Don’t know whether Jadeja is going to come out and bowl, Rishabh being straight away replaced with (Wriddhiman) Saha, so we will see.”

Cummins further heaped praises on his teammates for extraordinary stuff in the fielding and getting a couple of run-outs.

“It doesn’t happen very often. I thought both Josh’s (Hazlewood) and Marnus’ (Labuschagne) direct hit run-outs, especially getting a top-order batter like (Hanuma) Vihari came seemingly out of nowhere.

“The fielding at the MCG was spoken about a lot. And in between Tests we did quite a lot of work on it. Not only the run-outs, I thought the attitude in the field was fantastic, really good team effort today,” he added.

On his own performance, Cummins said it was right up there with his best efforts.

“I’d say it’s right up there. Rhythm feels really good. I would say I have got pretty good control on not only where the ball is landing but I guess the seam movement as well. Hopefully, it continues.

“No doubt having come into this series quite fresh as well, not having played Tests since the end of last summer, that’s a massive help and even three-Test legs still feel really fresh, so don’t discount that either,” he signed off.

(With PTI Inputs)