Australia vs India, 4th Test, Day 1: India take a big stride towards winning the series
The 'Pink Test' at the Sidney Cricket Ground (SCG) started with Virat Kohli winning the toss for the 22nd time in his tenure as the captain of the Indian team. He has not lost a test after winning the toss, winning 18 and drawing 3 of them.
Also, throughout this series, the team that has won the toss has come out on top. So, it was a perfect little beginning for India.
KL Rahul, who was included in the team due to the absence of Rohit Sharma, was tentative around off the stump right from the first ball and after nicking two balls in the gap between the slips, he was out, caught at 1st slip third time around. He was clearly short on confidence as the ball that he edged could have easily been left alone, as shown by Pujara a little while later.
Australia soon resorted to a strategy of short-pitched bowling as there was very little movement on offer for the quicks. Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal handled the short ball barrage well and took India to lunch with the score of 69/1.
Post lunch, Agarwal started with a positive intent, getting a few boundaries and even hit Nathan Lyon for 2 sixes by stepping out of the popping crease, but then was held out at long-on while attempting a third one, but not before scoring a well made 77.
Virat Kohli was the next man to come in and he took his time initially, but a flurry of boundaries close to tea ensured India went to tea at 177/2
Very soon after the tea break, Kohli got out after scoring just 23 in unlucky fashion, as he gloved a delivery down the leg side off the bowling of Josh Hazelwood.
Then came in India's vice-captain, Ajinkya Rahane, and he battled hard for his 18, before he was undone by a snorter of a short ball by Mitchell Starc, that just brushed his glove on its way to Tim Paine.
But then, Pujara brought up his 18th test ton, his 3rd of the series, by hitting a boundary off a delivery by Starc, behind square on the leg side. He was by far India's best batsman on the day as he has been this entire series. He was joined by Hanuma Vihari after Rahane's dismissal batted positively for his unbeaten 39 and helped Pujara in navigating the second new ball.
So, at stumps, India finished at 303/4 with Pujara (130)* and Vihari (39)*, still at the crease.
With the pitch looking excellent for batting as a traditional SCG pitch does, India will look to bat Australia out of this test before their bowlers, especially the two spinners come into play in the coming days.Published 03 Jan 2019, 14:00 IST