Cheteshwar Pujara rose to the occasion once again, notching up his third hundred of the series and pushing the host team to the back foot. 


After winning a crucial toss, the Indian side were well on course for a series-winning total as they notched up 303 for 4 on Stumps by Day 1.

 

The day belonged to the Saurashtra player, who walked in to bat in the second over after KL Rahul, who had been given a go in the absence of Rohit Sharma, was dismissed by Josh Hazlewood for the fourth time in Test cricket. Pujara, who offered a dead bat to everything in the first session was accompanied by Mayank Agarwal, who scored his second successive Test fifty.

The youngster who made his debut in the Boxing Day Test started off with some gorgeous strokes but the second session tested him, as he was constantly peppered with short balls. His back-foot play looked questionable and the pace and the angle from the Aussie seamers seemed to trouble him. However, he survived the onslaught and played the balls late before a greedy shot to long-on immediately after he had hit a six off Nathan Lyon resulted in his downfall.

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Pujara was then joined by Virat Kohli at the crease and the duo batted with conviction. The former used his feet well and got the easy singles to further put pressure on the home side. Australia did have moments to rejoice after Tea when Kohli was dismissed by a short ball from Hazlewood, and Ajinkya Rahane the following suit as he gloved a short ball back to the keeper. Hanuma Vihari, unbeaten on 39 off 58 deliveries, has made an instant impression in the longer formats and he did his reputation no harm as he stitched together an unbeaten 75 run partnership for the fifth wicket.

However, the day belonged to Pujara who has now faced 1000 balls in this series but what will be mighty pleasing will be his strike-rate today, which hovered around the 52-mark on Day 1. After courageously choosing to bat first on what seemed a green track, it was imperative that the batting unit came to the party, and with a fine showing at the SCG, the ball, it can be said, is well and truly in India’s favor.

Brief scores: India 303/4 (Pujara 130*, Agarwal 77, Vihari 39*; Hazlewood 2-51) vs Australia.

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