Cheteshwar Pujara walked in after the top order threw their wickets away to poor strokes. The right-hander stepped up and showed his team-mates the merits of application, defence. At the end of day 1, Pujara had hit his first century in Australia, his 16th overall and India had ended day 1 of the Adelaide Test on 250/9. On a day when Australia’s four pacers operated as a unit, Pujara’s calm application on an Adelaide wicket offering extra bounce was a sight to behold. The Saurashtra right-hander has given the blueprint for the rest of the batsmen to follow after another poor show by the top order after Virat Kohli won the toss and chose to bat.
KL Rahul’s (2) poor run in international cricket continued as he edged an away-swinger from Josh Hazlewood to Aaron Finch at second slip. Murali Vijay, who had hit a blazing 129 in the warm-up game against Cricket Australia XI in Sydney, fell to a loose drive to a Mitchell Starc delivery angled across to perish for 11. In walked Kohli, who had hit three centuries in two previous Tests at the Adelaide Oval.
Before the start of the series, all talk from the media was how to prevent Kohli from accumulating runs. The Australian bowlers maintained tight lines and lengths as the Indian skipper could not get the boundary. The move yielded rich dividends in Pat Cummins’ first over. Kohli drove at a full ball outside off which bounced a bit more and the delivery flew to gully. However, Usman Khawaja had other ideas as he leapt full length to his length and plucked the catch with one hand to put himself as the No.1 contender for catch of the summer already.
Rohit throws it away
After Ajinkya Rahane fell to another poor stroke, Rohit Sharma, along with Pujara, strung a decent partnership. Rohit took on the pacers, pulling Cummins flat over deep square leg for his first six and then gloriously lofting the young pacer over wide long off. He targeted Nathan Lyon by hoicking the offspinner over deep backward square leg but he could not control his shot and he was rescued when Marcus Harris went over the ropes in trying to catch him. Next ball though, on 37, Rohit suffered a’Brain Fade’ moment as he miscued a lofted shot to be caught by Harris at deep backward square leg.
Rishabh Pant (25) had some moments with Mitchell Starc and seemed to get the better of the left-arm pacer but he edged Lyon to leave India in a vulnerable position. However, Pujara held firm at the other end and stitched a solid stand with Ravichandran Ashwin for the seventh wicket.
Glory for Pujara
Pujara and Ashwin’s stand for the seventh wicket yielded 62 runs but once Ashwin fell to an away-swinger from Hazlewood, Pujara faced a race. When he top-edged Hazlewood over the fine leg fence, the Saurashtra batsman went past 5000 runs and entered an elite club. Pujara finally broke his jinx in Australia when he clipped Starc to the midwicket fence to reach his milestone.
After getting to his ton, Pujara cut loose and looked to survive till the end of the day. However, on the fifth ball of the 88th over, the right-hander nudged a shortish ball to midwicket and set off for a quick single. However, Cummins swooped to his right and fired an under-arm throw at the bowler’s end to catch Pujara short.
Despite getting run-out again, Pujara’s knock has given India something to smile for in an overseas tour.