Australia vs India, 4th Test Day 1: Five Talking Points
Visitors India ended the first Test-playing day of the New Year on a high note, holding fort against hosts Australia in solid fashion. The side compiled 303 runs on the board as four wickets fell, by the time Day 1's play of the fourth Domain Australia-India Test match ended earlier today at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
For the first time ever, India entered into the game with chances of sealing off a series win, having won two out of the three matches played so far. The series tally now reading 2-1 in favour of the Men in Blue, all that is needed for Virat Kohli and co. to take home the Border-Gavaskar trophy, is a draw at Sydney.
Over the past one month and more, luck has predominantly been on Kohli's side as a skipper, as he won yet another toss. It was a good toss to win, and he immediately took the no-brainer choice to bat first. The pitch has been predicted to induce turn late in the game, and naturally, batting first and third was hence going to be easier compared to chasing.
Let us now take a peek into the key points of discussion that can be drawn from today's play - where, as mentioned earlier, Indian batsmen dominated against Aussie bowlers.
#1 Cheteshwar Pujara at the core of India's batting success - once again
The Saurashtra-based batting stalwart Pujara is indeed having the dearest time of his life. He is already the top-scorer of the series so far, having eclipsed the likes of Virat Kohli much earlier, and leaving them farther behind with each innings.
Pujara now has 458* runs from 7 innings, while second-placer Kohli is at 282 only, and others are even further below. That shows how Pujara is playing in a different league altogether, right now.
He came in at a tricky situation when India had just lost their opener, KL Rahul, while fairly-inexperienced Mayank Agarwal was at the other end of the crease. Alongside Mayank, Pujara forged a 116-run stand, after which he made 54 and 48 runs with Kohli and Rahane respectively. Even as his partners departed one-by-one, Pujara did not lose his verve, going on to notch his 18th ton in the format - also his third in the ongoing series.
He also batted at a strike-rate better than all of the previous occasions in the series, and that turn gave India a well-deserved 300, right on the first day itself.
At Stumps, Day 1, Pujara is currently involved in an 81-run unbeaten partnership with Hanuma Vihari. In the upcoming second day, Pujara's run, that hopefully extends well into this game, could be the singular deciding factor of the game - and thereby the series as well.
Quite coincidentally - India has won all matches where they have batted first with Pujara claiming the three-figure mark for himself. High hopes, much?