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Australia on top on Day 1 of 3rd Test v India at Sydney

Will Pucovski
Will Pucovski on his way to a half-century on Test debut for Australia at Sydney Cricket Ground.

Australia were bolstered by half-centuries from debutant Will Pucovski and middle-order batsman Marnus Labuschagne as they finished the rain-curtailed first day of the third Test at Sydney at 166/2 in 55 overs, with Labuschagne reaching 67 not out and Steve Smith finding form to make an unbeaten 31. 

It was a good toss to win for the Australian team as Pucovski made most of the perfect batting conditions, even though the returning opening batsman David Warner (5) fell for cheap early in the rain affected day. The right-handed Pucovski scored 62 from 110 balls with four boundaries, announcing his arrival at the international stage in style.

Pucovski also was benefited by two dropped catches by India wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant, who was horrible behind the wickets once again. The young and talented opening batsman added 100 runs for the second wicket with Labuschagne, who also converted his start at last after a string of failures in the first two Tests. The right-handed No 3 Labuschagne was on 67 not out at stumps, having cracked 8 fours while facing 149 balls. 

Pucovski fell to India debutant fast bowler Navdeep Saini, trapped leg-before on a delivery that moved sharply in and found his front foot stuck at the crease. 

But what would have certainly pleased the Australian side is the return of Smith among runs. The run-machine, who was ranked world No 1 not long ago, played strokes at will and dominated the Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who had troubled him so far in the Test series. Smith was 31 not out off 64 balls with 5 fours, promising a big score for the home team on Day Two.