Cheteshwar Pujara’s brilliant century and some crucial middle-order support helped the visitors India to make a fighting total of 250/9 at the stumps on the opening day of the four-match Test series against the hosts Australia at Adelaide Oval (Adelaide).
Indian skipper Virat Kohli decided to bat first after winning the toss. However, India had a horrible start as they went down to 41/4 at one stage. Both the openers KL Rahul (2) and Murali Vijay (11) were dismissed cheaply, while Usman Khawaja grabbed a stunning catch at gully to dismiss the no.1 ranked Test batsman Virat Kohli (3) at the early stage. Ajinkya Rahane also followed them after scoring just 13 runs.
On the other hand, Pujara was very solid at the other end. Making his Test return, Rohit Sharma had a 45-run partnership with Pujara for the fifth wicket but he threw his wicket after getting set as he scored 37 runs off 61 balls (2 fours and 3 sixes).
After that, Pujara and the wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant had a 41-run partnership for the sixth wicket but again that set moment was lost after Pant was caught behind on 25 runs.
Struggling on 127/6, the visitors were rescued by the 62-run partnership of Pujara-Ravichandran Ashwin for the seventh wicket. That partnership stayed on the pitch for 24.5 overs and helped to build up a fighting first innings total. Ashwin was finally caught at second slip after scoring 25 runs off 76 balls (only four).
After the new ball was taken, India lost two more wickets but it was the eventful period as there were some crucial partnerships on both occasions. Pujara and Ishant Sharma had a 21-run partnership for the eighth wicket before Sharma (4) was bowled by the Aussie left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc with the new ball.
Then, Pujara and Mohammed Shami had a 40-run partnership for the ninth wicket before Pujara losing his wicket through a run-out on the last ball of the day. During that partnership, the 30-year-old right-handed batsman completed his 16th Test century in 231 balls. Since the new ball was taken, Pujara played some attacking shots and scored the runs quickly.
Soon after completing his century, Pujara reached 123 runs off 246 balls (7 fours and 2 sixes) when he lost his wicket through a run-out that was a brilliant direct hit by Pat Cummins. Umpires called off the day just after Pujara’s dismissal as India was batting on 250/9. At the stumps of the opening day of the first Test, Mohammed Shami was not out on 6 runs.
Among the Australian bowlers, Mitchell Starc (2/63), Josh Hazlewood (2/52), Pat Cummins (2/49) and Nathan Lyon (2/83) all have picked up two wickets each.
Some important stats of day 1 of Adelaide Test between Australia and India
- Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara (5,028 runs) completed his 5,000 Test runs. He became the 12th Indian batsman to achieve this feat.
- The no.3 Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara scored 123 runs. Pujara is the second Indian no.3 positioned batsman to score a century in the first innings of a Test match on the Australian soil. Mohinder Amarnath (138) was the first man to achieve this feat at Sydney in 1986.
- India scored 250/9 at the stumps on day one. Batting in the first innings of the very first match of a Test series between Australia and India in Australia, it is India’s highest total. While it is the only third time for India to batting first in the very first match of a Test series in Australia tour, India’s previous best was 239 at Brisbane in November-December 1991.