Cricket: Cheteshwar Pujara century leads India fightback against Australia

  • 06/12/2018

Mitchell Starc knows that one swallow doesn't make a summer but the spearhead was thrilled with how Australia started their four-test series against India, including a stunning last-gasp dismissal of centurion Cheteshwar Pujara.

Pujara had fought back fastidiously with an impressive ton on day one of the first test at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday after his top order colleagues failed.

India will resume at 250/9, having crashed to 19/3 when they lost Virat Kohli for three, then 127/6 before Pujara rallied with help from the tail.

Thursday's play finished with Pujara being run out for 123 by a superb direct hit from a diving Pat Cummins, who had one stump to aim at after toiling for 19 overs as temperatures hit 38 degrees Celcius.

"It was a special moment for him. Especially after a long day in the field," said Starc.

"It was a good little effort.

"We bowled really well for four hours, pretty well for another hour then got it a bit wrong at the end.

Nathan Lyon.
Nathan Lyon. Photo credit: AAP

"If you asked us at the start of the day if we'd take losing the toss then them being 250/9 at stumps, I think we'd bite your arm off."

Australia won't be able to authoritatively claim the upper hand until their inexperienced batting order is tested on Friday.

"You can't judge a wicket until both teams have had a crack," Starc admitted.

"One good day isn't going to win a series. It's going to go a long way to helping win a test but it's nothing to win a series."

Pujara, having halted the home side's momentum with his first century in Australia, argued India already had a decent total.

"It's not an easy wicket to bat on ... the odd-ball is skidding on and the odd-ball is holding a bit more," he said.

Tim Paine will lament the way his side failed to keep their foot on the tourists' throat.

But after eight months of soul-searching and scathing criticism, there was a lot for disillusioned fans and Paine to like as his side finally started their first home test since the Cape Town cheating scandal and the first match on free-to-air TV this season.

The day was bookended with two pieces of brilliant fielding.

Usman Khawaja, stationed at gully and playing two days after his brother was arrested, led the way as Australia dominated the opening hour.

Khawaja removed Kohli, flinging himself to the left to complete a dramatic dismissal after Starc and Josh Hazlewood both picked up a wicket in their opening spell.

Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul and Murali Vijay were all out edging in the morning session to Australia's fast bowlers, who bent their backs in sapping heat to extract rearing bounce and generate good pace.

Rohit Sharma's post-lunch dismissal to Nathan Lyon on 37 was the low point of India's ill-disciplined innings, while Lyon also ended an entertaining cameo from Rishabh Pant.