David Warner took Indian pacers to the task during his unbeaten knock of 77 as Australia made a rollicking start reaching 113 for two at lunch on the first day of the first cricket Test, which started on an emotional note on backdrop of Phillip Hughes’ demise.
Warner’s strokefilled innings had 12 boundaries and he faced only 73 balls, putting Indian new-ball attack to the sword. At lunch, it was skipper Michael Clarke (9 batting) giving Warner company.
India, under new captain Virat Kohli, though had something to cheer as Ishant Sharma (1/17) removed opener Chris Rogers (9) while Varun Aaron (1/51) dismissed Shane Watson (14).
Both were out giving catches to Shikhar Dhawan stationed at second slip.
There was an emotional outpour before the start of play as tributes were paid to late Phillip Hughes. Both teams lined up behind his number 408 as everyone gathered at the stadium gave a rousing applause lasting 63 seconds. Hughes has been termed as the ’13th man’ of the Australian squad.
When Aaron bowled a sharp bouncer in the fourth over, the crowd applauded as a tribute to Hughes.
The most poignant moment came when Warner got two runs off debutant Karn Sharma to reach 63. The batsman looked towards heaven paying tribute to his mate as all those present at the Adelaide Oval clapped in admiration.
Incidentally, Hughes was not out on 63 when he was struck by Sean Abbott’s bouncer.
There was not much to write home about India’s pace attack during the first session. In absence injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami (0-30), who began the proceedings, straightaway went round the wicket to openers Warner and Rogers.
Aaron on the otherhand, sprayed the ball all around and got a pasting from Warner. In fact, he hit six boundaries in the first three overs, racing to 28 off 13 balls.
The flat pitch at the Adelaide Oval meant that the pacers couldn’t utilize the new ball properly and Warner continued scoring at a brisk pace, bringing up the Australian 50 as early as 8th over.
Ishant duly removed Rogers, with an angular delivery which was edged to Dhawan at second slip.
Watson (14) came to the crease thereafter and he was welcomed by a spurt of bouncers and short deliveries as Aaron and Shami regained some semblance of control.
But Warner at the other end couldn’t be tamed as he brought up his 14th Test half-century in the 15th over, reaching the milestone off only 45 balls.
Debutant Karn (0-15) was introduced into the attack in the 18th over as the two batsmen looked to settle down.
But Watson was troubled by incoming deliveries from the Indian medium-pacers and didn’t look comfortable in the middle at all. He was finally dismissed in the 19th over, caught at second slip by Dhawan off Aaron when he tried to cut a delivery withiut having the width to execute the shot.
The dismissal brought skipper Clarke to the crease and he was given a standing ovation by the Adelaide crowd for marshalling their cricket community bravely during the last two weeks.
Clarke and Warner avoided further damage to the innings before lunch, adding 25 runs for the third wicket as the 100-run mark came up in the 22nd over.