PU­JARA

Res­cues In­dia with fight­ing ton

Oman Daily Observer - - OMAN/WORLD -

ADE­LAIDE: Chetesh­war Pu­jara struck a de­fi­ant cen­tury in an Ade­laide Oval fur­nace to res­cue In­dia after Aus­tralia’s pace­men threat­ened to dom­i­nate day one of the se­ries-open­ing Test on Thurs­day.

The In­dia num­ber three bat­tled a ham­string strain late in the day but was a rock even as his part­ners crum­bled around him, push­ing In­dia to 250 for nine at the close with a bru­tal as­sault on the sec­ond new ball.

Un­bro­ken by dogged and of­ten fierce pace bowl­ing, Pu­jara was dis­missed for 123 by a piece of bril­liant field­ing, with Pat Cum­mins swoop­ing in to throw down the stumps. That was the last play on a day of scorch­ing heat, leav­ing tail-en­der Mo­hammed Shami on six, with Jasprit Bum­rah the fi­nal bats­man to re­sume on day two.

Pu­jara’s 16th Test cen­tury saved In­dia after a dis­as­trous start that saw them slump to 86 for five after lunch, fall­ing to a com­bi­na­tion of dread­ful shot-mak­ing and qual­ity Aus­tralian pace after cap­tain Virat Kohli won the toss.

“To be hon­est, we should have bat­ted bet­ter but they also bowled well in those first two ses­sions,” Pu­jara told re­porters. “I can’t rate it but it was one of (my) best (cen­turies).

“It was hot but I was set and I knew I could play my shots.

“Once we lost Ash­win, I thought I had to ac­cel­er­ate. I knew what shots I could play on that wicket.”

Pu­jara an­chored vi­tal part­ner­ships with young wick­et­keeper Rishabh Pant and spin­ner Ravichan­dran Ash­win be­fore com­plet­ing his cen­tury with a flick off his pads after scor­ing his 5,000th run in Tests.

Hav­ing crawled to his half-cen­tury, Pu­jara ramped up as he ran out of part­ners, slog­ging a cou­ple of sixes as shad­ows crept across the ground.

In­dia had re­sumed on 143 for six after tea with seamer Cum­mins hav­ing Ash­win edge to the slips for 25 and Mitchell Starc bowl­ing Ishant Sharma for four.

Spin­ner Nathan Lyon struck twice to ex­pose In­dia’s tail after lunch, hav­ing the re­called Ro­hit Sharma slog-sweep to a fielder for 37 be­fore Pant fell for 25 feath­er­ing an edge be­hind.

Five of In­dia’s top six were out to loose shots, in­clud­ing cap­tain Kohli, who fell for three to a stun­ning one­handed catch in the gully by a leap­ing Us­man Khawaja.

“Stuck my hand out and it stuck. It’s nice when they do stick,” said the Aus­tralian num­ber three.

“It was a good lit­tle mo­men­tum­goer too, be­cause we got a cou­ple of early (wick­ets).”

Seamer Josh Ha­zle­wood grabbed two wick­ets in the morn­ing ses­sion, re­mov­ing Ajinkya Ra­hane (13) and the out-of-form Lokesh Rahul (two).

Starc re­moved Mu­rali Vi­jay for a streaky 11, the re­called bats­man edg­ing an­other rash shot be­hind to Tim Paine.

“For the most part we were ex­cep­tional with the ball to­day,” said Starc. “If you said we’d be 250 for nine after los­ing the toss... I think we’d bite your arm off.”

In­dia’s Chetesh­war Pu­jara cel­e­brates after scor­ing his cen­tury dur­ing day one of the first Test against Aus­tralia at the Ade­laide Oval in Ade­laide, Aus­tralia. — Reuters

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