Team India declared their first innings on day two of the fourth Test against Australia at the SCG on 622/7d. This was done through the efforts of Cheteshwar Pujara’s 193, Rishabh Pant’s 159*, 81 from Ravindra Jadeja and 77 from Mayank Agarwal.
Australian bowlers failed once again to bowl out the Indian team, who declared their innings for the third consecutive innings, becoming the first team to do so twice against Australia. First time India declared in three straight innings were in the 2008 series in India, in Delhi and Mohali.
With his bowlers under severe criticism, Tim Paine in the post-match press conference, backed is bowlers, especially Mitchell Starc, who returned figures of 1/123 from 26 overs.
Nathan Lyon picked four wickets and Hazlewood took two, but the remaining bowlers failed to make an impact. Starc has already been on target of former Australian cricketers for his lackluster performance with Shane Warne calling him out after Starc’s poor returns in the Adelaide Test.
Despite his inconsistent form this series, the left-armer has taken 13 wickets and is just one shy of 200 Test scalps with a career strike-rate of 51.1, one of the best in Australian history. Starc has the support of former Australia captain Ricky Ponting and the nation's current Test skipper Paine, who says his spearhead is just low on confidence.
Paine said about Starc’s situation, "I don't know what people expect from him. His stats for his whole career have been outstanding. When he's at his best, he's brilliant. When he's not, not so much, but he's not running out trying to spray the ball everywhere. That's what I don't get with the criticism he's getting; Mitchell Starc is trying his absolute best to do the same thing he did a year ago when he was swinging the ball around corners.”
"He's down on confidence a little bit and I sometimes think people forget that he's just a bloke who's trying his best. I know he's playing at the highest level and they expect a lot from him but it doesn't always work; it's Test cricket, he's coming up against some very, very good batters and he's not quite at his best,” Paine added.
"But we've got full confidence with a little bit of hard work, and he's going to have a little bit of time off during the one-dayers, so there's some time for him to go back and look at what's going wrong with him at the moment. Starcy knows that he's working on it, he's being really honest about it and he's trying to figure out exactly what it is that's missing at the moment," said Paine.
Paine refused to put the blame of Australia’s poor show with the ball on the SCG pitch.
He said, "The pitch here and the pitch in Melbourne didn't make us bowl as badly as we probably we have in this Test. We've just been outplayed. Both teams have had similar conditions. But from me, who also loves watching Test cricket, I'm sure guys would like to see a bit more pace and bounce in Australia, something we've probably become accustomed to in Australia. But it is what it is. We've just got to play better on whatever wickets are served up, wherever we are in the world."
(with inputs from cricket.com.au)