India captain Virat Kohli forged two half-century partnerships to rescue his side against Australia before falling victim to an almighty mix-up on an attritional opening day of the day-night first Test at Adelaide Oval on Thursday.
The right-hander sacrificed flair for efficiency in his industrious 74 as the tourists reached 233/6 at stumps after opting to bat in the series opener.
Wriddhiman Saha, on nine, and Ravichandran Ashwin, who is 15 not out, will return on Friday hoping to continue India’s march towards the 300-mark.
Earlier, Mitchell Starc removed the scoreless Prithvi Shaw with the second delivery of the day and Pat Cummins castled fellow opener Mayank Agarwal (17) later in the opening session to give Australia a strong start to the four-match series.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Australia’s nemesis when India won their first series Down Under two years ago, proved more difficult to dislodge and eked out 43 runs from 160 deliveries before falling to Nathan Lyon.
“For a 300-plus total, it’s important to play well in the first two sessions,” Pujara said to explain his dour batting. “The wicket was fresh, the bowlers were fresh, so you could not play your shots so early ... it was important to be patient at that stage.”
The usually aggressive Kohli proved he could be an excellent accumulator too as he followed his 68-run partnership with the obdurate Pujara with an 88-run collaboration with deputy Rahane before being sold down the river.
Rahane’s indecision over a single resulted in Kohli being run out after a resolute knock which included eight fours. On a day when boundaries were scarce against Australia’s disciplined bowling, Kohli had looked determined to make his mark on the series in his only Test before he returns to India for the birth of his first child.
It triggered a mini-collapse with Rahane, who made 42, and Hanuma Vihari (16) joining Kohli in the hut as the hosts struck with the new ball in front of a restricted crowd of 21,000. All-rounder Cameron Green debuted for Australia in the match.
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