Opening batsman David Warner blasted a quickfire half-century to drive Australia to 113-2 at lunch on day one of the first test against India.
Opening batsman David Warner blasted a quickfire half-century to drive Australia to 113-2 at lunch on day one of the first test against India, firing up an emotional Adelaide Oval crowd after solemn tributes to Phillip Hughes on Tuesday.
Australia captain Michael Clarke won the toss and gladly sent his team to bat, and though India’s pacemen captured two early wickets, Warner put Australia in a solid position to exploit the flat pitch in the afternoon.
He was on 77 not out with Clarke on nine.
Warner, who was present when team mate Hughes was lethally injured by a short ball in Sydney, smacked seven boundaries in the opening four overs and brought up his 50 shortly after the drinks break on a glorious, warm morning.
Bringing up the milestone with a pull to the fence, the pugnacious 28-year-old raised his bat and his head to the sky, a poignant moment on the day cricket resumed in Australia nearly two weeks after the death of Hughes.
Warner’s opening partner Chris Rogers was reduced to a bystander as his team mate ran amok, and ultimately a spectator when he drove recklessly at an Ishant Sharma delivery, edging the paceman to Dhawan at second slip to be out for nine.
Shane Watson, batting at three and recalled to the side after missing Australia’s 2-0 series defeat to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, survived a scratchy 53 minutes before edging Varun Aaron to the same fielder.
Watson’s wicket, for 14 runs, brought captain Clarke to the crease and the 33-year-old, who played a leading role in supporting Hughes’ family and his team mates, was given a standing ovation as he strode out onto the turf.
Aaron welcomed the 33-year-old with a bouncer first ball, prompting Clarke to walk down the wicket and spout a few words at the paceman.
Warner swept for two runs to reach 63, the score Hughes had advanced to before being struck in Sydney, and gazed at the cloudless sky again, clasping his bat and shaking it as the crowd rose to their feet.
The opening match of the four-test series was originally scheduled in Brisbane but was delayed and switched to Adelaide Oval following Hughes’ death to give players time to mourn for their former team mate.
Batsman Virat Kohli is leading India for the first time in a test match with regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni sidelined with a thumb injury.
Legspinner Karn Sharma made his test debut for the visitors whose pacemen were inconsistent and may count themselves lucky to have taken two wickets.
On a day of tributes to Hughes, the number 408 was painted on the turf in front of the Sir Donald Bradman Pavilion, recognising the batsman as the 408th player to represent Australia in a test match.
Both teams wore black armbands and Hughes was named an honorary “13th man” in Australia’s squad, with his former team mates to wear black armbands.
Following a video tribute narrated by iconic Australian commentator Richie Benaud, the crowd stood and applauded for 63 seconds in recognition of Hughes’s final innings.
Hughes’s death prompted a debate about the use of the bouncer, but paceman Aaron bowled the first in the fourth over, a sizzling 145 kph delivery that drew applause from the crowd and that Warner did well to avoid.