ADELAIDE, Australia – A brilliant century by Cheteshwar Pujara on Thursday helped India reach a respectable score on the first day of the first test against Australia as the team was reduced to 250/9 after Australian pacers ensured a top-order collapse.
Pujara scored 123 off 246 balls before getting run out in the last over the day, after Indian captain Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first on the opening day of the four-test Border-Gavaskar Trophy series.
Australian Pacers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins took two wickets each on a day when none of the Indian batsmen except Pujara could settle down for long.
Openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay fell cheaply for 2 and 11 respectively, after Rahul edged a Hazelwood delivery to third slip and Vijay was caught behind off Starc.
In the biggest blow to India, in-form captain Virat Kohli managed just 3 runs before being caught at gully in a brilliant catch by Usman Khawaja as he tried to drive a Pat Cummins ball.
Pujara, coming in at number 3, batted patiently, taking 153 balls to complete his half-century as wickets fell regularly at the other end, with Rahane departing for 13.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon got the crucial middle-order wickets of Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant, both of whom could not build on their starts, and were out for 37 and 25, respectively.
Ravichandran Ashwin scored 25 in a crucial partnership with Pujara as the two put together 62 runs for the seventh-wicket.
Pujara scored quickly in the final session, farming the strike and bringing up his 16th test century in 231 balls, while Ashwin was caught off Cummins and Ishant Sharma was bowled by Starc.
Pujara, who completed 5000 runs in test cricket, hit seven fours and two sixes in his 123 before being run-out on a brilliant throw by Cummins on what turned out to be the last ball of the day’s play.
India would be happy to cross 200 on a day when its batsmen made poor shot-selection and the Australians bowled and fielded brilliantly.
The visitors are on a nearly two-month-long tour of Australia during which they will play four tests and three one-day games in addition to the recently finished three-match T20 series which was tied 1-1.