Pujara keeps India afloat on day of brilliant Aussie fielding

Elena Summers
December 7, 2018

Mitchell Starc (8 batting) was giving Head company at close of play with Australia trailing by 59 runs against India's first innings effort of 250 all out, the highlight of which was Cheteshwar Pujara's fighting hundred.

After being bowled out, Indian opener Ishant Sharma gave his side the flawless start with by dismissing Aaron Finch in the first over, and Chappell said he foresaw Sharma causing the Australian problems. Someone like Ishant Sharma was always going to find it tough against Starc but Pujara remained firm.

Australia omitted vice-captain and all-rounder Mitch Marsh in preference for middle-order batsman Peter Handscomb, leaving them with just four recognised bowlers.

Harris fared much better on debut, lasting 57 deliveries and surviving a testing early examination that included Jasprit Bumrah consistently slinging the ball down at more than 145 km/h. With that, also came India's rush towards the second new cherry which yielded immediate dividends. Questions were asked about his attitude and the young batsman, who was part of a struggling visiting team under MS Dhoni, felt the pressure when he reasoned with the media after a disastrous Indian innings in Perth.

"The quicks are going to have to bowl a bit more and we have full faith that Nathan Lyon can do the job in any conditions", he said.

When Marsh, batting on 2, dragged on a wide delivery from Ravi Ashwin onto his leg stump, he became the first Australian batting in the top five to be dismissed for six consecutive single-digit scores since 1888.

An unusually circumspect Australia were kept on the edge by a wonderfully disciplined Indian attack.

He bowled 70 over in that Test and will again be saddled up to be both a strike and stock weapon and Paine said the heat would also be put on Australia's seamers. The limited-overs southpaw announced his arrival with an eye-pleasing cover drive before slapping Cummins' pacy bouncer for a six.

Paine expressed satisfaction at the recalling of Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins after the pair missed the Pakistan series in the UAE.

Ashwin was introduced into the attack in the 12th over of the innings, and immediately hit up an interesting duel with Harris.

The duo batted out 20.4 overs and put on 45 runs for the second wicket, already higher than any partnership for the top-four Indian wickets.

Ashwin first struck before lunch.

After Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh fell to reckless shots, and debutant Marcus Harris to Ravichandran Ashwin's brilliant variations, there followed a painstaking afternoon station in which the operators of the iconic heritage-listed scoreboard would have been excused a siesta.

Australia's 50 came up in the 27th over thereafter.

Apart from Pujara's 123, Rohit Sharma scored second best for India with 37 runs. His economy rate was 3.19 and compared to Ishant (ER of 2.07), Bumrah (1.70) and Ashwin (1.52), it offered the batsmen a release.

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