Cricket / day 1

Australia-India Test 4: Another Pujara 100,India 304 for 4
Pujara celebrates after scoring his century Source Despite having scored the highest number of 304 runs by far in a day’s play so far, in this Border-Gavaskar Series, India will not be as pleased as they would like to have been for having lost four wickets in the bargain. Kohli won the toss for the second time in a row and opted to bat opining that it will be tougher to score runs on the surface as sessions go by. The pitch on the opening day of the fourth and last Test match showed a tinge of green but Mitchell Starc and as Josh Hazlewood found out, there was not much movement in the wicket. The Sydney pitch is not a drop-in wicket as the three wickets that India has played on prior to this have been, and has shown signs that it will assist spin when Nathan Lyon was bowling. The Indian camp decided to replace the injured Ishant Sharma with Kuldeep Yadav rather than the not so fit Ravichandran Ashwin. KL Rahul came in place of Rohit Sharma who had to return to India to greet his firstborn immediately after the third Test match at Melbourne was over. For the Australians, Peter Handscomb came in to replace Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne, who will bat at number three, instead of Mitchell Marsh. While India has been handicapped in the team selection due to injuries, Australia has been struggling to find the right combination to bolster its batting performance as well as to get some of the load off its three frontline speedsters. Josh Hazlewood got KL Rahul very early for Australia Source KL Rahul, who was left out of the last Test match by the Indians did not last more than the 6 tentative balls that he faced. Shaun Marsh took a comfortable catch at first slip to a Starc ball that Rahul when on eight. Chateshwar Pujara who came in next, along with Mayank Agarwal, faced some nasty deliveries from Starc and Hazlewood and then Cummins. The Australian bowlers showed their frustration at the lack of bounce in the wicket by sometimes pitching the ball well short of the halfway mark. Not surprisingly, the Indian batsmen were struck by the ball several times. While Agarwal got hit on his helmet twice, Pujara stopped a couple of balls with his shoulder. A few knuckles were rapped also. Mayank Agarwal showed that he will make a good opening partner for the injured Prithvi Shaw when he returns to Test cricket. He played a sensible inning to score 77 runs off 112 balls before he committed a cardinal error for a well-set batsman in the second session of play. He attempted to hit Lyon for a third six when he well knew that he had not reached the pitch of the ball when he hit the first two. Starc, who had run to the boundary both the times in the hope of catching the batsman out if the ball fell short, was not disappointed this time and took a safe catch. Agarwal had scored 7 fours and two sixes in his innings and had put on 116 runs for the second wicket along with Pujara. Mayank Agarwal drives the ball on his way to 77 runs Source Chateshwar Pujare scored at a brisker rate today that he usually does. He was particularly harsh on Labuschagne when he dispatched three of the balls in the bowlers first over to the boundary. Pujara and Kohli took India to the tea break with the score on 177 for two. India had added 108 runs in the second session in 28 overs. Kohli, who looked quite settled, got out on 28 runs in the very first over after tea when he tried to turn a Hazlewood delivery fine on the leg side and Paine took a good catch. Rahane was batting sedately when a sharp bouncer took his glove before going to Paine who took another good catch well overhead. India was now on 228 runs having lost four wickets. Hanuma Vihari was in very good touch as along with Pujara they saw to it that no further wickets were lost for the almost 19 overs bowled before the end of the play. On a wicket that looks good for batting, India will be a bit disappointed that Agarwal was a bit careless and missed on a century on debut. Kohli too got out to a poor shot after getting well set. Having won the toss and getting the chance to bat first on a wicket where most captains opt for just that, India has lost one wicket too many. They would have been much more satisfied if they had twenty runs less but one more wicket still in their kitty. From here India’s aim will be to at least cross the 500 run mark or get as close to it as possible. That will give their bowlers a chance to have a go at the Australians without any qualms. Chateshwar pujara is hit on the shoulder by Josh Hazlewood Source Throughout the current series, the Australian batsmen have more often than not scored runs at a faster rate than have the Indians. But their problem has been that the batsmen have not been able to stitch together big partnerships and that is why they have come out second best twice. They will hope for some early breakthroughs tomorrow and make sure that India doesn’t run away to a big total. Pujara, on 130 not out, has scored 458 runs with three centuries and has largely been the difference between the two teams in this series. Lyon has got some turn on the wicket and the Australians will be looking to him to get some wickets to reign in the Indian batsmen to within 400 runs.

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