Australia’s bowlers toiled hard on day one at the MCG, while the Indian batters built a solid foundation in the Boxing Day Test as they look to take a lead in the Test series.
The new opening pair of Hanuma Vihari and Mayank Agarwal got their side off to a decent start, adding 40 runs for the first wicket before Vihari was bounced out by Pat Cummins, caught at second slip by Aaron Finch for eight off 66 balls.
Playing in his first Test, Agarwal then combined with Cheteshwar Pujara for an 83-run partnership off 216 balls to raise the score to 123 before Agarwal fell 24 runs short of a century on Test debut. Cummins was again the bowler, this time the catch going through to Tim Paine behind the stumps.
Agarwal waited for the decision from umpire Ian Gould (which took a while coming) but didn’t review it, accepting his fate after scoring 76 runs off 161 balls (8×4, 1×6).
Pujara and skipper Virat Kohli showed why they are the backbone of the Indian innings, as well as living up to the responsibility of their roles as they batted slowly but steadily through to the close of play, adding an undefeated 92 runs off 205 balls.
Pujara ended on 68 off 200 balls (6×4), his third score above 50 in the series, while Kohli will resume his innings tomorrow, three runs short of his half-century (107 balls, 6×4), to follow his excellent 123 at Perth.
India’s score of 215-2 certainly didn’t give the scorers any wrist cramp on a slow but steady first day’s play. But it was an excellent display of concentrated and focused batting in the tough cauldron of the MCG on Boxing Day to set their country up for a solid start to the Test as they seek to take a lead in this series.
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