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December 6, 2018

Adelaide Test: Pujara's ton help India reach 250/9 on Day 1

Agencies

Adelaide, Dec 6: Indian right-hand batsman Cheteshwar Pujara played a centurion knock of 123 runs to take his side's total to 250 runs at the loss of nine wickets by the end of Day One of the ongoing first Test against Australia here at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday.

Having lost four wickets at the meagre score of 56 by the lunch, India were in deep trouble with almost all of their top-order batsman back in the pavilion. Pujara, along with middle-order batsmen and tail-enders, knitted small partnerships to take India's score to a respectable total.

Resuming at the score of 56 after lunch, right-hand batsman Rohit Sharma and Pujara stitched a 45-run partnership to keep the scorecard ticking at a slow pace. Just when India seemed to be overcoming the initial jolts, Sharma chose to go for an attacking shot targeting the short square boundary. Ryan Harris committed no mistake and took an easy catch at the deep square area. Sharma departed at the score of 37 runs.

The momentum shifted on the Australian side as they continued to attack the new batsman on the field, Rishabh Pant. Pujara and Pant, however, were looking good on the crease as they had already added 41 runs to the team's total. But Nathon Lyon stepped up one more time and gave his side a breakthrough in the form of Rishabh Pant (25). Lyon bowled a brilliant delivery which was drifting in and dropping from around the wicket. The batsman was completely deceived and was caught behind by Australian keeper Tim Paine.

Australia were on top of their game as now it was just a matter of four Indian wickets. But Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin spoiled the party for the hosts as he, along with Pujara, built a crucial partnership of 62 runs for the seventh wicket.

In the 73rd over, Australian pacer Pat Cummins, who had picked up Indian skipper Virat Kohli in the first session, gave his team the much-needed breakthrough as his quick delivery managed to get an edge off Ashwin's bat and went straight to Peter Handscomb in the second slip.

Pacer Ishant Sharma, the new batsman on the field, contributed four runs off 20 balls before conceding his wicket to pacer Mitchell Starc. In the final over of the day, Pat Cummins' excellent direct hit put an end to Pujara's magnificent innings as well at the score of 123 runs.

Earlier in the first session, Indian top-order produced a disappointing performance to land the side in a difficult situation. Opting to bat first in the scorching morning at Adelaide, India had sent their right-hand batsmen KL Rahul and Murali Vijay to open the innings. With some accurate bowling and brilliant fielding efforts, Australian bowlers easily unsettled the opening pair who looked tentative on the crease.

India lost their first wicket in the form of KL Rahul who played a loose shot off Josh Hazelwood's delivery and was caught by Aaron Finch at the third slip. Rahul departed at a meagre score of two runs.

Right-hand batsman Cheteshwar Pujara walked on to the crease at number three and India now had two of their best Test batsmen to take the innings forward. Pujara and Vijay started to build the innings but the Australian pacers came into the picture again and gave another jolt to the Indian side in the form of Murali Vijay.

Mitchell Starc bowled an absolute stunner at an awkward length to Vijay and enticed him to play a drive. The ball nicked and went straight to the hands of wicket-keeper Tim Paine. Vijay was gone for 11 runs.

Kohli, who holds a tremendous record in Adelaide and had also scored his first Test hundred on this ground, walked in amid huge expectations and pressure. Playing at the score of 3 runs, the right-hand batsman drove a Pat Cummins' delivery which was angling away from him. Kohli was deceived and Usman Khawaja made a superb effort to pluck the catch with his left hand. With Kohli's wicket, Indian hopes of making a comeback started to shatter.

Now it was time for another Test specialist batsman Ajinkya Rahane to come on the crease and join Pujara in order to provide much-needed balance to the stumbling Indian batting order. But the script for the Indian batters did not change. Rahane lost his wicket in the most typical fashion as he edged an outgoing delivery of Josh Hazelwood and gave a simple catch to Peter Handscomb in the second slip.

For Australia, Starc, Hazelwood, Lyon and Cummins picked up two wickets each in the match. Indian fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah will resume India's innings on Day Two of the Test match.

Adelaide Test: Pujara's ton help India reach 250/9 on Day 1

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