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PICS: Australia vs India, 3rd Test, Day 1

Last updated on: January 07, 2021 14:08 IST
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Images from Day 1 of the third Test between Australia and India at the SCG, on Thursday.

Australia opener Will Pucovski waves to the dressing room after completing his half century

IMAGE: Australia opener Will Pucovski waves to the dressing room after completing his half century on Thursday, Day 1 of the third Test against India, at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

In signs ominous for India and encouraging for Australia, the beleaguered Steve Smith looked dangerous, and his understudy Marnus Labuschagne struck an unbeaten half-century, as the hosts reached 166 for 2 on a rain-marred opening day of the third Test, at the Sydney Cricket Ground, on Thursday.

 

At stumps, Labuschagne was unbeaten on 67 and Smith, after his uncharacteristic run of low scores so far, seemed out of the woods with 31 confident runs, which included five authoritative boundaries. Labuschagne found the fence eight times. 

India pacer Navdeep Saini celebrates after trapping Australia opener Will Pucovski leg before wicket

IMAGE: India pacer Navdeep Saini celebrates after trapping Will Pucovski leg before. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

This was after debutant Will Pucovski, who had luck on his side as wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant dropped the opener twice before tea, scored 62 on debut to break the shackles for the under-fire side. 

Smith looked positive from the word go and was determined to not let the Indian bowlers dictate terms to him.

Steve Smith grew in confidence after early caution.

IMAGE: Steve Smith grew in confidence after early caution. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Having entered the match after registering scores of 1, 0 and 8 in his last three innings, Smith's first confident shot came against India's pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, who was nicely driven through the mid-on, for his first boundary of the series.

His confidence up after dismissing Pucovski for his first Test wicket, debutant pacer Navdeep Saini got carried away and was guilty of bowling too full to Smith, who latched on to them with a couple of fours.

Marnus Labuschagne celebrates after completing his half century.

IMAGE: Marnus Labuschagne celebrates after completing his half century. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

With Smith looking in fine fettle, the early signs were ominous for India and skipper Ajinkya Rahane brought back his nemesis Ravichandran Ashwin into the attack, but the Australian was equal to the task on this occasion.

A tossed up delivery was whipped off pads through mid-wicket and then Smith danced down the track to loft Ashwin on the onside for another boundary.

Meanwhile, Labuschagne was in his element after he had settled in and played a few pleasing drives on both sides of the wicket, having drawn confidence from the pull shot he played against Bumrah at the beginning of his innings.

The two added 60 runs for the third wicket after a 100-run association between Labuschagne and Pucovski, who was trapped in front of the wicket by Saini but not before starting his Test career with a solid knock.

Session 1

India pacer Mohammed Siraj celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia opener David Warner during Day 1 of the third Test, at the Sydney Cricket Ground

IMAGE: India pacer Mohammed Siraj celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia opener David Warner. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Young India pacer Mohammed Siraj dismissed the returning David Warner to leave Australia in a spot at 21 for 1 before rain stopped play barely seven overs into the first day.

The home team batted only 7.1 overs before play was interrupted.

Siraj sent back Warner (5) after having the seasoned opener caught behind by Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip in the fourth over, giving India their first breakthrough before the heavens opened up.

Cheteshwar Pujara celebrates with his India teammates after taking the catch of David Warner

IMAGE: Cheteshwar Pujara gets a high-five from his India teammates after taking the catch of David Warner. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

At the break, debutant Will Pucovski and Marnus Labuschagne were batting on 14 and 2 respectively.

The players ran off the field as a shower arrived from nowhere, forcing the groundsmen to cover the pitch as well as the square as the rain got heavier.

Making a return after a long injury lay-off, Warner showed intensity in the first few overs but got carried away with it as he chased a wide Siraj delivery.

Australia debutant Will Pucovski bats during Day 1 of the third Test

IMAGE: Australia debutant Will Pucovski bats during Day 1. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Barring a couple of uncomfortable moments against the shorter balls, Pucovski looked solid in the middle.

Play resumed later as the sun shone brightly after a four-hour rain interruption. The groundsmen at the Sydney Cricket Ground worked relentlessly, even using a blower to go with the super-sopper, to get the surface ready for resumption at 3 pm local time.

Umpire Paul Wilson, reserve umpire Claire Polosak and umpire Paul Reiffel watch as ground staff use blowers to dry a wet area after a rain delay on Day 1 of the third Test between Australia and India, at the Sydney Cricket Ground

IMAGE: Umpire Paul Wilson, reserve umpire Claire Polosak and umpire Paul Reiffel watch as ground staff use blowers to dry a wet area after a rain delay on Day 1. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

A total of 57 overs are to be bowled during the remainder of the day. The scheduled close of play has been extended to 6.30 pm, with an extra 30 minutes permitted to ensure minimum overs. 

Earlier, Australia won the toss and opted to bat in the third and penultimate Test of the four-match series.

Rohit Sharma returned to the Indian playing eleven, in place of Mayank Agarwal, while pacer Navdeep Saini was handed a Test debut, replacing an injured Umesh Yadav.

For Australia, Warner was in the team as Pucovski made his debut at the expense of Travis Head.

The series is tied 1-1.

Session 2

Rishabh Pant fails to hold on to an edge off Will Pucovski's bat off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin.

IMAGE: Rishabh Pant fails to hold on to an edge off Will Pucovski's bat, off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant dropped Will Pucovski twice as the opener rode his luck to score a half-century on debut and guide Australia to 93 for 1 at tea.

Pucovski was unbeaten on 54 and Marnus Labuschagne on 34 at the break, after four hours of play was lost due to rain.

In between three reprieves, Pucovski played some impressive shots and also looked solid in defence after Mohammed Siraj sent back the returning David Warner early.

Rishabh Pant drops Will Pucovski off the bowling of Mohammed Siraj

IMAGE: Rishabh Pant drops Will Pucovski off the bowling of Mohammed Siraj. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Introduced into the attack after 13 overs in India's first bowling change, senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin tempted Pucovski into a drive and the batsman only managed an edge after losing his balance, but Pant failed to hang on to the offering despite getting his gloves to it in the 22nd over.

Will Pucovski bats during Day 1

IMAGE: Will Pucovski celebrates his half century. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

He spilled one more chance, and on that occasion the unlucky bowler was Siraj, whose fast and short delivery touched the batsman's gloves on they way to the keeper, who could not complete the task.

Pant managed to take it on second attempt, but the ball had hit the ground by then.

With luck on his side, Pucovski got to his fifty when he pulled another debutant, Navdeep Saini, through the wide mid-on region for a boundary.

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