India stutter to reach 233/6 on Day 1 against Australia at Adelaide
It is never easy playing Test cricket and more so in Australia when things are stacked up against you as a visiting side. But looking at how the first day panned out for the Indian team on Thursday, it was neither a very tough day nor a very pleasant one as India clambered to 233 for 6 in 89 overs with their captain Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara putting up inspired batting performances.
Had there not been an embarrassing mixup with his deputy Ajinkya Rahane when all was going well, Kohli might have been unbeaten at the time of stumps and India would have been in a far better situation than what they eventually ended when the stumps were drawn.
But Kohli was meant to be run out for 74—the highest individual performance by an Indian on the opening day of the four-Test series—while Pujara was dismissed close to his half-century for 43 after battling extremely well in testing conditions against a world-class bowling attack.
India also had their stand-in-captain-to-be Ajinkya Rahane scoring a fine 42 but all that would not be remembered, for he has been blamed blatantly for running out his captain when he was looking set for a big score on the opening day of the series. The Indian batting was all about Kohli, Pujara and Rahane on the opening day while the others struggled to put up a strong show against what has been a relentless Australian bowling attack in their backyard.
The toss was won by India on what looked like a decent wicket for batting. But as Ricky Ponting pointed out in the commentary box, Indian opener Prithvi Shaw has difficulties facing the deliveries that move into him, and as if the left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc was listening to the Australian great, the lanky bowler had shot chopping one on to his wicket for a second ball duck.
Pujara walked in to weather the storm and did what he does the best. The India No 3 batsman is not known for his bulging biceps or his arsenal of strokes, but rather, for his deep reservoir of patience and watertight technique which help him make a lot of runs. Pujara remained at the crease for as many as 218 minutes, faced 160 balls and hit only two fours to score 43.
He was the sponge that soaked the pressure, while adding 32 runs for the second wicket with Mayank Agarwal off 108 deliveries, then 68 runs off 191 balls for the third wicket with India captain Kohli. But the best partnership of the innings so far came from the Indian leadership duo of Kohli and Rahane, who consumed as many as 168 balls to score 88 runs further which strengthened the Indian innings.
However it was in the 77th over of the innings when things turned drastically for the Indian team. Rahane pushed the ball towards Josh Hazlewood fielding at mid-off, off Nathan Lyon and set out for a single. While the call for single was Rahane’s, he soon realised that Hazlewood would get to the ball quicker than he had anticipated. Rahane asked Kohli not to run any further; but it was too late. The Indian captain was halfway down the pitch, the ball was collected and sent back to Lyon at the non-strikers’ end who made no mistake in breaking the stumps.
Kohli’s dismissal opened the floodgates for the Indian team as Ajinkya Rahane soon fell to an incoming delivery from Starc when Australia had taken the second new ball. Rahane was trapped leg-before by the Australian strike bowler, who had earlier taken the first wicket in the game in the first over of the series.
With pressure mounting on the Indian batsmen was imperative for them to see off the trouble, but they failed to do so. Hanuma Vihari was trapped leg-before by Hazlewood for 16, and it looked like the Indians would soon fold up against the rampaging Australians with the new ball. But Ravichandran Ashwin, batting on 15, and Wriddhiman Saha did well to see off the trouble and take India’s safely to 233/6 in 89 overs.