Pat Cummins believes he is bowling as well as he has ever done after Cheteshwar Pujara claimed he was on the wrong end of the ball of the summer from the Australian paceman.
The world’s top-ranked bowler took 4-29 from his 21.3 overs in India’s first innings in Sydney on Saturday, making for his best figures on his home ground.
Cummins’ effort was also the most economical of any Australian bowler to take four wickets or more in an innings in more than 20 years.
Incredibly, it still doesn’t do justice to how influential he was, after also claiming one run out and swinging the match with a blow to Rishabh Pant’s elbow.
The 27-year-old has now taken 14 wickets at 14.28 for the series, with Cummins’ return on Saturday ensuring India trailed by 94 on first innings before Australia went to stumps at 2-103.
“I’d say it (his current form) is right up there (with the best I have bowled),” Cummins said.
“My rhythm feels pretty good. I feel like I have pretty good control of where the ball is moving.
“Just the seam movement as well, I feel like I am nipping it around a bit more than I have in the past. Hopefully it continues.”
It’s also the value of the wickets that Cummins has taken this summer that has been most crucial.
He removed Virat Kohli in the second innings in Adelaide before he returned home, and has now handed Shubman Gill his only two dismissals in Test cricket.
He has also now got rid of Pujara four times in five innings, with a record of 4-19 against the ‘Indian wall’ in 21 overs bowled at him.
“He’s been bowling well throughout the series,” Pujara said.
“He’s someone who is ranking the No.1 Test bowler at the moment. He’s proving that, again and again.
“On this track, there’s not that much help but still he’s running in and bowling the right areas.
“We’re trying our best. Sometimes he has a better idea.”
Cummins’ dominance over Pujara has clearly come amid a change of tack from Australia’s bowlers, who are no longer growing frustrated with the Indian’s occupation of the crease.
While two years ago, they could be accused of trying to do too much to remove him, Cummins and the hosts have just tried to challenge his edges this summer.
The ball that removed Pujara on day three in Sydney got more bounce than the right-hander bargained for, brushing his glove on the way through to Tim Paine.
“Yes I’ve got out to him, but there’s been some good balls,” Pujara said.
“If I get a good ball, I have to just accept it and not think about it.
“Today, the ball that I got I felt that was the best ball of this series … he’s bowled some unplayable deliveries.”