Aiming to bounce back from their second test loss, India finished Day 1 of the third one in Melbourne on 215/2. In front of a bumper 73,000 strong Boxing Day crowd at the MCG, debutant Mayank Agarwal laid a solid foundation upfront that was capitalised upon by the experienced duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli as Australia’s bowlers were made to toil throughout the day.
Having won the toss, India having opted to bat first, and as mentioned in our preview, made 3 changes to the side that had lost in Perth, with both out of form openers (KL Rahul & Murali Vijay) dropped and pacer Umesh Yadav making way for a specialist spinner in form of Ravindra Jadeja. The hosts made only one change, with Mitch Marsh brought in for Victorian Peter Handscomb, and the crowd made their feelings known by booing the all rounder when he came on to bowl later in the day.
The new Indian openers Agarwal and Vihari did what the previous duo couldn’t, seeing off the new ball and laying a solid foundation to the innings. Out of the two Openers, Agarwal was the aggressor in the partnership, timing the ball well and finding the boundaries with ease. He also handled Perth Man of the Match Nathan Lyon with consummate ease.
On the other hand, Vihari was ultra-cautious with a defensive approach and took 66 balls for his eight runs. The duo added 40 runs for the first wicket before Vihari, having been hit on the helmet before, was dismissed by Pat Cummins.
Pujara, who joined the debutant, continued to do what he does best, blunting the Aussie attack with his patience and skill. Agarwal slowed down considerably after lunch, but never seemed to be in any real trouble apart from the odd short delivery. The duo added 83 runs for the second wicket before the Karnataka star, having made 76, was caught down the leg from a Cummins short one.
Virat Kohli and Pujara built on Agarwal’s good work and saw the day through without losing any more wickets. The runs were slow to come by as the Australian attack remained disciplined, and India progressed at around two and a half runs per over. Kohli had a reprieve towards the end of the day, with Tim Paine missing a tough chance during a fiery Mitchell Starc over late in the day.
India at Stumps on Day 1- 215/2- Mayank Agarwal 76, Cheteshwar Pujara 68*. (Pat Cummins 2/40).
This post has been contributed by Shashi Kumar, editing done by The Cricket Blog.