India finished the first day of the first test on 250/9 at the Adelaide Oval today. They were tottering at 41/4 at one stage and some good batting by the lower middle order saved the day for them. Australia would still be the happier of the two teams as they are likely to dismiss India well short of 350, which should be the par score in the first innings on what looked like a good batting wicket.
Pujara top scored with 123 and was run out on the last delivery of the day off a brilliant diving throw by Pat Cummins. Rohit Sharma made 37 while Rishabh Pant and Ravi Ashwin contributed 25 apiece.
For Australia, each of their four bowlers, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, took two wickets. The pitch is likely to be even better for the batsmen in the next two days and the Australian batsmen should look forward to making a big total in their first innings. We now look at the 3 talking points of the day’s play.
#1 Poor shot selection by the Indian batsmen
The Indian batsmen were guilty of playing some poor shots early on in the innings. None of the top four batsmen were dismissed by unplayable deliveries. Instead, each one of them tried to play at a delivery way outside the line of the off-stump and gave catches to the wicketkeeper and the slip cordon.
Ajinkya Rahane chased a ball that should have been well left and got caught in the gully. Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay too, fell in the same fashion. None of them went close enough to the ball and played shots far away from their bodies.
The trend continued as Rohit Sharma fell trying to play an unnecessary cross-batted shot off the bowling of Nathan Lyon. He had already made 37 and looked set for a big inning, but the sudden rush of blood led to his demise. The left-handed Pant, meanwhile, did not put his front foot across while playing at an off-spinning delivery from Lyon that moved away from him, and edged it to Tim Paine, the wicketkeeper and captain of Australia.
#2 Australian bowlers bowled well with the new ball
The Australian fast bowlers bowled well with the new ball and got most of the wickets with it. Starc, the left-arm pacer, made the ball swing into the right-hander and dismissed Ishant Sharma with such an inswinger.
Hazlewood could not generate much swing but bowled an impeccable line and length. Cummins too, used the width of the crease himself well and broke the partnership between Pujara and Ashwin with an inswinger bowled from a wide angle.
However, none of them aside Hazelwood could bowl with an upright seam most of the times and therefore, did not cause much trouble to Pujara. Lyon bowled tirelessly from one end and got 2/76 off 28 overs. He bowled his top-spinners well and got good turn and bounce off the pitch too. However, Australia lacked a decent 5th bowling option at times as Travis Head was forced to turn his arm over for a couple of overs of innocuous off-spin bowling.
#3 Pujara played a memorable knock
Pujara scored almost half of the runs made by his team on the first day and his 16th test century was a memorable one indeed. He guarded the tailenders really well and played some audacious cuts and hooks off the bowling of Starc and Hazlewood.
Pujara is very strong off his back foot and scored most of his runs through cuts, pulls and hooks. He hit 7 fours and 2 sixes in his innings.
He also handled Lyon’s off-spinners very well and did not try to play drives against the spin. Instead, he nudged and flicked the ball to the on side most of the times to rotate the strike.
He was ably supported by Pant and Ashwin, who also handled the Australian bowling with maturity. Pujara started playing aggressively after the dismissal of Ashwin as India scored 107 runs in the final session. He also surpassed 5000 test runs in the process and looks good for many more.