Plucky Pu­jara stands firm as Aussies turn up the heat

The New Zealand Herald - - Super Sport -

Chetesh­war Pu­jara de­fied Aus­tralia’s bowl­ing at­tack and over­came sti­fling con­di­tions at the Ade­laide Oval with a cen­tury on the open­ing day of the first test yes­ter­day.

In­dia was in dan­ger of be­ing bowled out cheaply after reck­less bat­ting in the open­ing two ses­sions, but Pu­jara’s su­perb 123 saw In­dia reach stumps at 250-9.

The 30-year-old notched his 16th cen­tury and also passed 5,000 test runs. Just be­fore the close, Pu­jara was run out by a di­rect hit from Pat Cum­mins to end his 246-ball in­nings.

Pu­jara played with the 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 sec­ond new ball. Aus­tralia’s four­pronged at­tack shared the spoils with two wick­ets apiece.

Aus­tralia’s early ag­gres­sive­ness was blunted by the heat with the tem­per­a­ture hit­ting 39 de­grees Cel­sius dur­ing the fi­nal ses­sion, forc­ing Aus­tralia cap­tain Tim Paine to jug­gle his pace­men 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 off­spin­ner 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 K.L. 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.

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 crashed to 56-4 at lunch. They slid fur­ther when Ro­hit Sharma holed out at­tempt­ing a slog off Lyon. Sharma, who was se­lected at No. 6 ahead of all­rounder Hanuma Vi­hari, fell for 37 off 61 balls.

A crowd of 23,802 braved the heat but the fig­ure was con­sid­er­ably less than pre­vi­ous open­ing days for the Ade­laide day-night tests. The Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia re­fused Cricket Aus­tralia’s re­quest for the se­ries opener to be played un­der lights.

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