On the first morning of the first Test match of the home summer, Australia’s fielders made an early statement by showing crisp pairs of hands. First it was Aaron Finch pouching a hot chance at third slip, and later it was Pete Handscomb neatly taking one nextdoor above his head. In between those two was Usman Khawaja’s remarkable effort to remove Virat Kohli (see above) with a one-handed effort that is unlikely to be beaten all summer. Then, with the last action of the day, Pat Cummins produced a freakish effort to run out Cheteshwar Pujara.
While so many were losing their heads around him, Pujara simply put his head down and went to work. The classy right-hander dug in, happy to put runs on the backburner and simply focus on surviving. And sure enough, after getting his eye in, Pujara single-handedly saved India from embarrassment with one of the most important knocks of his career. He went from 89 to his century in just three balls, ensuring he wouldn’t be spending a sleepless night worrying about ton-ning up.
No Mitch Marsh as a fifth bowler? No worries. Australia’s bowling quartet spread the load beautifully, snaring two wickets each and even adding the aforementioned run-out through Cummins. They’ll enjoy a well-earned rest tomorrow after the inevitable swift removal of India’s final batsman.
He got excited and ultimately went for one too many, getting caught in the deep by Marcus Harris off Lyon’s bowling. Before that, however, Sharma provided the shot of the day with a pure off-drive off Pat Cummins that went all the way for six in front of square. Ridiculous stroke.
India’s top order should hang their heads in shame. Most of the tourists’ best batsmen approached the morning session as though it was the first innings of a 50-over clash rather than a five-day fixture. Too many shots at balls that should have been left alone outside off-stump, and too many attempted drives without the necessary footwork. They’ll need to be much better to keep pace with Australia across four Tests.
For an over or two shortly before tea, Lyon channelled his inner Mark Waugh and donned the sunglasses while sending down deliveries. The tactic failed to yield a wicket, and left Twitter divided as to whether it was a look to persist with. The fact he went back to shade-less shortly after suggests he thinks not.