Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal put on 59 runs for the unbroken second wicket as India reached 69 for 1 at lunch on day one of the fourth and final Test against Australia here on Thursday.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal put on 59 runs for the unbroken second wicket as India reached 69 for 1 at lunch on day one of the fourth and final Test against Australia here on Thursday. At the Sydney Cricket Ground, Agarwal was unbeaten on 42 runs, while Pujara was batting on 16 not out at the end of 24-over morning session. This was after India won the toss and opted to bat. Senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin did not pass the fitness test this morning and was ruled out of the match.
The visitors then made two changes, with Lokesh Rahul and Kuldeep Yadav coming in for Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma. Australia too made two changes with Peter Handscomb and Marnus Labuschagne replacing Aaron Finch and Mitchell Marsh. Mitchell Starc (0/27) and Josh Hazlewood (1/17) got the proceedings underway, with the Indian openers making a streaky start.
Things did not change much for Rahul (9) despite missing the Melbourne Test, as he edged twice in the first four balls faced only for the ball to go to the boundary. He did not last long, edging Hazlewood to first slip in the second over, and his nightmare run on this tour continued.
This was the sixth opening pairing for India in 12 overseas Tests since January 2018, and the resultant opening partnership only averages 21.56 in 23 overseas innings. At the other end, Agarwal settled down and stroked a couple of cover drives. He looked solid in comparison to his Karnataka team-mate and along with Pujara, drove the Indian run-rate forward.
In a series where low scoring has been the norm, India were scoring at 4.29 per over in the first hour as they reached 46/1 at drinks. India crossed 50 shortly thereafter, with the duo bringing on their 50-partnership off 104 balls. Australia lost a DRS review in the 15th over, when Hazlewood had a loud shout against Pujara turned down. There was nothing on the snickometer with the ball coming off the batsman’s thighs. The home side then resorted to run-saving tactics once again, and moved to a shorter length, targeting the batsmen’s bodies.
Pujara was hit a couple of times, once on the head. Surprisingly Nathan Lyon (0/6) only came on in the 22nd over — the latest he has bowled in any Indian innings this series. But he could not provide a breakthrough before lunch either. India have taken an unassailable 2-1 series lead after winning the first Test in Adelaide by 31 runs and the third Test in Melbourne by 137 runs. Australia had won the second Test in Perth by 146 runs.