Josh Hazlewood, the Australian fast bowler, has encountered a plethora of battles with some of the leading batsmen in the world like Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Joe Root, Kane Williamson but when it comes to the toughest battle of his career, Cheteshwar Pujara is the first name that comes to the Australian’s mind.
India won the 2018-19 series in Australia and one of the major reasons behind it was the Cheteshwar Pujara. The Indian No.3 ground the famed Australian trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Hazlewood himself.
Apart from the runs  and the number of hundreds  that Pujara scored in the series, it was the number of balls that he faced that really took a toll on the Australian attack. The Indian No.3 faced more than 1200 deliveries during the course of 4 Test matches- the most by a batsman from either side.
“There’s been a few over the years. Obviously, Pujara couple of summers ago was quite tough work. He had a really good series, and probably was the standout batsmen from both sides so he was really hard work,” Josh Hazlewood told WION.
Pujara will once again be the key to India’s fortunes. The Aussies will be desperate to stage their redemption this time around against the Indian No.3 but Hazlewood reckoned that they can’t afford to just focus on Pujara as there are a number of good batsmen in the Indian set-up.
“Nothing yet(plans to dismiss Pujara). We need to have a few team meetings, bowlers meeting to come up with something. Because obviously, he is a key along with Virat and a few other guys. But if you focus too much on a player then others can hurt you. So the top 6 is always important.” Hazlewood added.
‘We need to give a payback to India after last time’- Josh Hazlewood on the upcoming India-Australia Test series
Indian fast bowlers ruled the roost last time against an Australian batting unit sans David Warner, Steve Smith, and Marnus Labuschagne 2.0, and Josh Hazlewood said that the home side would be vying to ‘hurt’ India in that department.
The Australian fast bowler also went on to compare India-Australia rivalry with the Ashes, adding that the hype and interest generated by the fans and engrossing cricket between the two sides has propelled it in the same league as the Ashes.
“Obviously we have got Steve (Smith) and David (Warner) back and Marnus (Labuschagne) has come leaps and bounds. The bowling attack is similar to what it was but it is the batting which now has a lot more depth and experiences from the last time India toured,” he added.
“India’s bowling attack got us last time and that is what we don’t like to happen on our home soil. So we want to get India in that department. But as you said, everyone is going to watch this series. It has almost reach the point where it has reached a point like the Ashes now. It is a huge series for both teams and we need to give a payback to India after last time,” Hazlewood added.
The much-awaited Test series between India and Australia will kickstart from December 03 at the Gabba in Brisbane.