Former Australia cricketer Brad Hodge called Jasprit Bumrah “a nightmare to face” in an enormous compliment but picked Cheteshwar Pujara’s runs at number three as the vital difference between the two sides.
The final Test starts here on January 3, with India leading the four-match series 2-1.
“Pujara has been the difference between the two sides. Both bowling units have looked strong. Barring the first session in Perth (where Australia scored 112-0), and Mayank Agarwal in Melbourne, all four openers have struggled,” Hodge told agencies.
“So, the number three position where Pujara has dominated, has been of importance. Not only has he not lost his wicket cheaply, but he has also taken time out of the game.”
India regained the lead with a 137-run win in the third Test Melbourne, with Pujara scoring a hundred in the first innings.
“He also negated Nathan Lyon who bowled extremely well in Adelaide and Perth. So Pujara’s importance cannot be ignored. He was left out of the first Test in England, and came back into contention.
“He has not been playing T20 cricket, and instead went to play for Yorkshire. He does the hard work and is getting rewards.”
The former Kings XI Punjab coach was full of praise for the Indian pace-attack, in particular Bumrah.
“Bumrah is a nightmare to face. If you ask any batsman, he is one of the most dangerous bowlers to face. He is quick, very accurate and moves the ball both ways, which is what you want from a Test match bowler. His economy and strike-rates in Test cricket are already comparing to those for Kapil Dev, who is legendary in Indian cricket. So to be in that category within 12 months is amazing.
The Indian attack has looked strong ever since they have arrived here. They have performed and backed up their captain well. Bumrah and Ishant Sharma, in particular, have looked in shape,” he added.
Hodge said that the Australian batsmen have let themselves down with a lack of Test cricket temperament and application. Even so, he added that the selectors have no option but to stick with the same combination.