Brief scores: Australia 166/2 (Marnus Labuschagne 67*, Will Pucovski 62, Navdeep Saini 1 for 32, Mohammed Siraj 1 for 46)
India started Day 1 on top before the first session ended prematurely due to rain. When play started hours later, it was Australia’s day from thereon. The top-order finally fired as Pucovski and Labuschagne notched up fifties, while Indian fielders couldn’t back up their bowler’s efforts on a day of missed chances for the visitors.
India picked up the wicket of David Warner early. The opener played a rash shot of Mohammed Siraj’s bowling, getting caught by Pujara at slip in the process. The morning session lasted just 7 overs before rain halted play. India had done well until then but didn’t get a chance to make their strong start count as the weather delayed the match by several hours.
India and Australia returned to the field after taking an early lunch, with the day’s play revised to 55 overs. The break seemed to have done Australia a world of good, as their cautious approach helped see off India’s bowling attack.
India continued with the tactics that brought them great success over the first two Tests. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj attacked the stumps, with the odd short ball to boot. Ravichandran Ashwin came into the attack early once again, as Ajinkya Rahane tried to end Will Pucovski and Marnus Labuschagne’s resilience.
But the Australian batsmen seemed to be better prepared this time, as they kept the scoreboard ticking with well-judged singles. Pucovski, in particular, was impressive on debut, notching up his maiden Test half-century along the way.
India miss a trio of chances against Australia
Although Marnus Labuschagne and Will Pucovski played well, India have themselves to blame for going wicketless in the second session.
Rishabh Pant dropped Will Pucovski twice, as the wicket-keeper’s struggles behind the stumps came to the fore once again.
Australia’s debutant escaped a run-out a few overs later too. Will Pucovski was halfway down the crease after a miscommunication with Labuschagne about a third run. But Jasprit Bumrah slipped as he collected the ball, and the chance was gone.
The missed chances hurt India, as they bowled some freebies in the final overs before tea. The flurry of runs meant that Will Pucovski brought up a 50 on debut, as Australia went into tea at 93/1
Australia pick up the pace in the final session
Australia’s confidence seemed to grow as the game went on, and they upped the scoring rate. Their second fifty came in just 58 balls, as the surface got easier to bat on.
But Will Pucovski’s luck finally ran out in the 34th over, just as Australia brought up their first 100 partnership of the series. The batsman finally missed a full delivery directed at his stumps and was caught LBW as Navdeep Saini got his first Test wicket.
India failed to make most of the opening, as a determined Steve Smith counter-attacked as soon as he came to the crease. Australia’s No.4 batted with purpose as he hit Navdeep Saini with a couple of great drives down the ground. Steve Smith raced to 24 of 25 balls, hitting hit five fours after not scoring a single boundary in the series before today.
Marnus Labuschagne made the most of his stay at the crease too, as he brought up his 9th Test fifty with a crunching boundary of Mohammed Siraj.
After that, the Aussies settled into their roles as they negotiated the final few overs without losing another wicket. The team goes into Day 2 in a commanding position and will look to put up a big total on what is a relatively flat pitch.
India on the other hand, have their task cut out. Their plans didn’t really work on Day 1, and Ajinkya Rahane and Co. will have to come up with fresh plans to prevent Australia from running away with the game.Published 07 Jan 2021, 14:01 IST