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Pujara making all the difference: Hodge

Sydney: Former Australia batsman Brad Hodge has called Jasprit Bumrah “a nightmare to face” but picked Cheteshwar Pujara’s runs at No. 3 as the vital difference between India and Australia in the current series. “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,” said Hodge. “So the No. 3 position, where Pujara has dominated, has been of importance. Not only he scored runs, but also took time out of the game.”

India regained the lead in the series with a 137-run win in the third Test in Melbourne, with Pujara scoring a crucial 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,” said Hodge. “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 also full of praise for the Indian pace attack, especially 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,” he said. “His economy and strike rates in Test cricket are already comparable to Kapil Dev… To be in that category within 12 months is amazing.”