India vs Australia: Cheteshwar Pujara wages lone battle with 16th Test ton for India on Day 1

Cheteshwar Pujara was dismissed for 123 after scoring his 16th Test century. (Source: AP)

Cheteshwar Pujara showed varying level of batting discipline to be patient when the ball was doing plenty in the morning session and wickets falling and then took up the pace alongside the tail on the first day of the opening Test against Australia. On the day, Pujara didn’t score a run for 55 minutes while partnering Rohit Sharma but then sped up the run rate while battling alongside the tailenders. His century and eventual score of 123 runs from 246 balls bears similarities to his knock earlier in the year in Southampton.

Much like the knock against England, Pujara grinded out the ball initially – even as his allies fell by the way side – before upping the ante with the lower order. He played a key factor again, in Adelaide, to take India from 19/3 at one stage to 143/6 at Tea before taking over the command and accelerated to 250/9 at stumps. Rather fittingly, the only way one could stop him was by a way of sheer brilliance and that is exactly what Pat Cummins exemplified with a bulls-eye effort with one stump to aim at to find Pujara a yard short at the non-striker’s end. That, as it turned out, was the final act of the day which otherwise went Australia’s way.

The day belonged to a combination of dreadful shots by the Indian top order who were guilty of doing a poor job with their drives and Australia’s efficiency in the field to not let any chance go begging.

Pujara strung together two crucial partnerships with lower-order batsmen to ensure India give their bowlers something to bowl at. After Tea, Pujara added 62 runs with R Ashwin (25) for the seventh wicket. Ashwin played watchfully, unlike the Indian top-order who were guilty of squandering their wickets to pitful shots. He played a great role in this minor recovery. Cummins (2/49) finally got the breakthrough in the 74th over when Ashwin edged to second slip. Ishant Sharma (4) then put on 21 runs with Pujara take the score past 200 in the 79th over.

Tail-ender Mohammed Shami survived to stumps on six runs, with Jasprit Bumrah the last batsman to resume on day two.

(To be updated…)

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