Pujara falls but Kohli stands firm to keep Australia at bay

Australia's Travis Head dives in attempt to catch out India's Cheteshwar Pujara. — AP)
Australia's Travis Head dives in attempt to catch out India's Cheteshwar Pujara. — AP)

Adelaide - Captain Virat Kohli looked by far the only Indian batsman to come to terms on a hard wicket


Published: Thu 17 Dec 2020, 1:22 PM

Top-order Indian batsmen struggled against pin-point accurate Australian bowling with the pink ball and labored to 107-3 at tea on the opening day of the first Test on Thursday at the Adelaide Oval.

The Australian pace quartet, led by and Pat Cummins (1-12) and Mitchel Starc (1-26), removed both openers inside the first 1-1/2 hours of the day-night test before off-spinner Nathan Lyon claimed the key wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara (43) in the middle session.

Captain Virat Kohli, who won the toss and opted to bat, looked by far the only Indian batsman to come to terms on a hard wicket and was unbeaten on 39 off 111 balls at the break with Ajinkya Rahane not out on 2.

Kohli could have been dismissed on 16 in off-spinner Nathan Lyon’s third over when television replays suggested the Indian skipper might have gloved a leg-side catch behind the wickets, but Australia didn’t go for a television referral.

The Indian skipper also needed a brief on-field medical treatment when he injured his right thumb while facing a sharp short-pitch delivery from Starc before pulling the left-arm fast bowler for a mid-wicket boundary in the same over.

Pujara showed immense temperament against well-disciplined bowling and got his first boundary off his 148th ball when he hit Lyon for back-to-back fours.

However, he fell for the 10th time in test matches to Lyon when Australia successfully went for a television referral when Marnus Labuschagne took a smart two-handed diving catch at leg gully as the ball clearly ballooned off Pujara’s bat on the leg side.

The success broke the 68-run stand between Kohli and Pujara as Australia kept India under pressure by letting India only add 66 runs in the session.

Earlier, Starc bowled a strong opening over to set the early tone after Kohli had aimed to put pressure on the home team by batting first. The left-arm fast bowler clean bowled Prithvi Shaw off the second ball through an in-swinger and Pujara edged Starc in the same over which fell just short of diving Australian captain Tim Paine behind the wickets.

Josh Hazlewood, who shared the new ball with Starc and Cummins, also bowled to a steady line and length as Australia conceded just two boundaries in the entire two-hour first session.

Cummins pinned down both batsmen by bowling four successive maiden overs before he knocked the top of Mayank Agarwal’s middle stump off a delivery which nipped back into the right-hander.

Agarwal hit a boundary each against Hazlewood and Starc on the off-side before getting dismissed for 17 off 40 balls.

Both Agarwal and Pujara survived some close chances inside the first hours against Starc’s pace. Pujara’s flick against the left-armer eluded diving Nathan Lyon at leg gully while Travis Head couldn’t grasp a hard chance at forward short leg off Agarwal.

Australia, which has won all its seven day-night test matches, awarded test cap to all-rounder Cameron Green. Green is expected to bat at No. 6. In the absence of regular opener David Warner, who is out with a groin injury, Joe Burns will open with Matthew Wade.

Kohli will return to India after the Adelaide test to be with his wife, Anushka Sharma, who is expecting the couple’s first child in January.

Australia and India finished all square in the limited-overs portion of the current tour, with Australia winning the ODI series and India taking the Twenty20 series.

India won the series here in 2018 for its first test series win in Australia.

The remaining three tests will be played in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

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