India are on top at the end of first day’s play in the Boxing Day Test Match played in Melbourne. Having won the toss, Virat Kohli opted to bat first in what looked like a slow subcontinent like batting pitch. The Indian openers Hanuma Vihari and Mayank Agarwal looked rock-solid and negated the early threats of the Aussie pacers comfortably.
Such was the initial condition of the pitch that Baggy Greens captain Tim Paine brought in his go-to spinner Nathan Lyon in the eighth over of the match itself. Though the pitch contained a tinge of grass, but the moisture added to the surface helped the batsmen to score runs easily once settled. Hanuma Vihari was the first batsmen to be dismissed when he was caught off-guard by a skidding delivery from Pat Cummins which was comfortably caught by Aaron Finch at second slips.
Cheteshwar Pujara soon joined the debutant Mayank Agarwal and stitched a valuable 83 runs partnership that stretched the Indian total to 123 runs. Just at the stroke of tea, the Karnataka batsman seemed to have lost his concentration as he was easily caught by Paine when he was dismissed by Cummins while trying to glide down to fine-leg for a single. The debutant, however, had done the job meanwhile for his country with a brilliant knock of 76.
Virat Kohli was the next man in, and he along with Pujara steered the Indian innings past the final session of the day’s play to 215/2. In the meantime, Pujara reached to his 21st half-century being not out at 68. On the other hand, the Indian captain himself managed to make 47 runs without giving away his valuable wicket.
Pitch Condition: Although having a tinge of green grass, the pitch looked slow initially due to the moisture that was evident on the surface which aided batting in the middle. But as the day progressed and the moisture evaporated, the pitch got quicker and bouncier.
Toss: Indian Captain Virat Kohli won the toss after calling heads. He decided to have a go at the Australian bowling line-up as he guessed the conditions would be tough batting at the third and fourth innings of the match.
First Session: The new opening pair of Hanuma Vihari and Mayank Agarwal came to the crease after having won the toss, India opted to bat first. Both of them looked solid in a sub-continent like pitch which didn’t swing initially. Such was the condition of the pitch that Australia’s captain Tim Paine was forced to bring in Nathan Lyon at the very eighth over of the game. The Indian batsmen looked confident especially the debutant as he was middling and time balls well. However, Vihari was undone by a ripper from Cummins and was caught at second-slips to Finch. Pujara was the next man in and he along with the Karnataka opener steadied the Indian innings, leading India to 57 for the loss of one wicket at lunch.
Second Session: India started the second session of the day’s play with a bang as Mayank played a glorious cover drive off Josh Hazlewood on the very first delivery post lunch. Soon Agarwal raced to his maiden half-century as he was given a good round of appreciation by the MCG faithful. With a splendid partnership of 83 runs, Agarwal and Pujara cruised the Indian total past the 120 mark. Just at the stroke of tea, the Karnataka batsman seemed to have lost his concentration as he was easily caught by Paine when he was dismissed by Cummins while trying to glide down to fine-leg for a single. The debutant, however, had done the job for his country with a brilliant knock of 76. The Indian scoreboard read 123/2 at the end of Second session’s play, with Pujara (33*) still at the crease.
Third Session: Virat Kohli joined Pujara in the middle, and he and the Saurashtra man stabilized the Indian innings playing cautiously and watchfully but also scoring at a healthy rate. Pujara, in the meantime, reached to his 21st career fifty. As the new-ball was taken in the 82nd over, Virat was seen being uncomfortable especially of Mitchell Starc with a couple of rash shots, with even having been dropped by Paine off Starc. However, he and the Rajkot batsman steered India to 215/2 at stumps with an unbeatable partnership of 92 runs.
What should Australia aim for tomorrow?
The Kangaroos should aim to decimate the Indians within 350 runs, and the pitch should aid them with the same as it has dried up and the ball is bouncing a lot often now. They should then try to get as close to the Indian total as possible which would give them a chance to win this match.
What should India aim for tomorrow?
Having outplayed Australia the entire day on Day 1, India should try to continue doing the same tomorrow as well. They should get to a minimum of 450 and should then extract the dryness of the pitch with Ravindra Jadeja at their helm who can rip-through the Australian batting line-up through his spin.
Day 2 is supposed to be an enthralling day wherein one would easily understand who would take the advantage over the other. As the things stand, India are sure to dominate Australia for the rest of the game.