Pujara’s Century Saves Crumbling India on Day 1 Against Australia
- India recover from poor start to finish Day 1 of 1st Test against Australia at 250/9.
- Cheteshwar Pujara’s 16th Test ton rescues India from precarious positions of 41/4 and 127/6 on opening day at Adelaide.
- India had won the toss and opted to bat, with Rohit Sharma named in the XI for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy opener.
India were down four wickets at the end of the first session on Day 1 of their Test series opener against Australia at Adelaide. The visitors lost two more wickets after Lunch, and had managed just 143/6 at the end of the second session. But by the end of the day, India had posted 250/9, and that was down to one man alone – Cheteshwar Pujara.
The 30-year-old defied Australia’s bowling attack, scoring 123 – his 16th Test century – and crossing 5,000 Test runs before getting run-out by a direct hit from Pat Cummins to end his 246-ball innings.
Pujara played with a determination and patience lacking from the rest of India's specialist batsmen. He found willing support through Ravichandran Ashwin (25) as the pair combined for a 62-run seventh-wicket partnership.
Cummins provided the breakthrough of Ashwin just before the new ball. Australia's four-pronged attack shared the spoils with two wickets apiece.
Australia's early aggressiveness was blunted by the heat with the temperature hitting 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) during the final session, forcing Australia captain Tim Paine to juggle his pacers with sharp bursts.
Aided by a hint of bounce and movement, Australia's trio of quick bowlers did all the damage in a fiery opening session before Nathan Lyon took over after Lunch. The off-spinner took the only two wickets in the middle session but could not take wickets after Tea.
After winning the toss, India rued reckless batting from their top-order starting with openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay falling to loose drives. The visitors slumped to 19/3 when captain Virat Kohli was spectacularly caught by Usman Khawaja in the gully for just three runs.
Khawaja dived and snared the ball in his left hand. Kohli, the No.1 batsman in the world, has scored just 49 runs in his past six Test innings against Australia. He had scored three centuries in his previous two Tests in Adelaide.
Ajinkya Rahane (13) fell in the slips to an impulsive stroke as India went into lunch on 56/4. They slid further when Rohit Sharma holed out attempting a slog off Lyon. Sharma, who was selected at No. 6 ahead of Hanuma Vihari, fell for 37 off 61 balls.
A crowd of 23,802 braved the heat but the figure was considerably less than the opening days for the Adelaide day-night Tests of the past three years. The Board of Control for Cricket in India refused Cricket Australia's request for the series opener to be played under lights.
India are seeking their first Test series win in Australia, having lost eight and drawn three in 11 previous Test tours Down Under since 1947.
(With inputs from AP)
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