There were good reasons for the Indians to get up early morning and switch straight to cricket at the Australian venue. After all, India have good memories of Australia’s Adelaide Oval. It was at this very venue where Rahul Dravid scored the masterful double hundred before Ajit Agarkar wrecked havoc. The story this Thursday morning was not much different. Stumps went flying, there were bowlers celebrating and there was one Indian batter who stood his ground in a rock-solid manner.
Hosts gets early breakthroughs
KL Rahul and Murali Vijay were unsure of their respective places in the batting order until in-form Prithvi Shaw sustained an ankle injury. They walked out to the field only to return back in no time. A loose drive from Rahul was taken comfortably by Aaron Finch at slips. Vijay was next to depart and skipper Virat Kohli soon followed him. Kohli’s dismissal was one to watch out for. Pat Cummins angled the ball away and the batsman couldn’t resist the temptation. The extra bounce took an edge and Usman Khawaja presented a screamer before his mates gathered around him to pat his back.
Batters falter, Pujara stands tall
Mumbai batter Ajinkya Rahane couldn’t do much either but the other elegant batsman from the city of dreams looked like a man on a mission. A lot have been spoken about Rohit Sharma’s temperament in red-ball format. This was one opportunity he didn’t want to let go begging. He looked in total control, reminding viewers how he boss around the limited overs game; especially at home. He hit three sixes and two fours before been outdone by Nathan Lyon. The Australian spinner cut his length short as the batter cramped for space. The dismissal sort of summed up his Test career; lots of promise but poor shot selection.
Pujara grinds it deep
Pujara kept fighting the war. He consumed 29 deliveries in a trot before skying one to the fence. He let go of the juicy ones at times and played out the beauties. The red ball lost shine and Pujara gained spark. He took the game to the next level after the first session. Post the tea session, Pujara flicked one to the fine leg and acknowledged the crowds applause. His fifty came off 153 balls. The next time spectators cheered up the Rajkot-boy was in the 81st over. He pulled Josh Hazlewood for a six and followed it up with a boundary to get to 99. In the process, the batter reached the 5000-run mark in Test cricket. There was hardly any reaction from the underrated batsman in the star-studded line-up.
Starc and Co. bags two each
Pujara spent most of his time at the wicket- playing out the new ball and watching his partners throw away their wickets. He eventually brought up his hundred by running two before taking the helmet off on reaching the three-figures. The visitors kept losing wickets at one end. All the four Austalian bowlers shared two wickets each. They never missed the fifth bowler; yes it was that kind of a day under the hot sun. Starc did had a few words with younsgter Rishabh Pant as the batter looked to be in the T20 mode. But it was all in good spirit and as hardcore cricket was back. Pujara’s was the last wicket to fall in the day’s play. He tried to hold back the strike but Cummins hit a bulls-eye. It was probably the one only manner to get him out as India settled for 250 at the cost of nine wickets.
India: 250/9 in 87.5 overs ( Pujara 123; Cummins 2/49,Hazlewood 2/52)