Going steady at 188 for the loss of three wickets, India were enjoying a good start to the first Test match against Australia in Adelaide. However, a miscommunication resulted in Virat Kohli’s run-out, which started a mini-collapse towards the end of day’s play. India ended Day 1 with a score of 233 for the loss of six wickets, with Saha and Ashwin negotiating the new pink ball towards the end.
India were looking strong with Rahane and Kohli at the crease. Tragedy struck when Rahane turned down Kohli for a single which resulted in the Indian captain walking back to the pavilion for a well made 74. Shortly after his wicket, Rahane and Vihari were adjudged LBW and India were reeling at a score of 206 for the loss of six wickets. However, Saha and Ashwin did well to see out the new ball and end the day’s play without losing another wicket.
Cheteshwar Pujara was optimistic about India’s chances in the Test match and said that if the lower-order chips in with decent performances, they could end up with a total near 275-300 runs.
“We are just six down and Ash [Ashwin] can bat, Wriddhi [Saha] can bat and even our lower order will try and contribute as many runs as possible. So we still have a very good chance of getting close to 275-300. If the lower order bats well, you never know – we can get 350 also. Yes, there was a stage where we were in a dominating position but after losing Virat and Ajinkya they have a little bit of advantage. But I still feel we are evenly placed in this Test match,” said Pujara at the online press conference on Thursday (December 17).
The runs were hard to come by for the Indians on the first day and the outfield seemed unusually slow. However, Pujara batted well, scoring 43 runs and facing 160 balls. He could not convert his start into a big knock after he was dismissed by Lyon. Pujara came to bat in the first over itself after Shaw was dismissed by Mitchell Starc.
“The most important thing we discussed was building a partnership. When you have a big partnership – if it’s more than 50 runs or if it’s close to 100 runs – it always sets a proper platform for other batsmen to put our team in a commanding position,” said Pujara, who batted for 160 deliveries for his 43. “When I had a partnership with Virat, when Ajinkya came in – both of them were cruising and there was a time where we were 190 for 3 (188 for 3). I felt that was a position that we wanted to be in.
“But this is what Test cricket is all about. When you lose a couple of wickets, the opposition has a little bit of advantage. But again when we score some runs tomorrow morning, we’ll be in a commanding position. So you just have to respect this format and we we just trying to do that when we were in the middle. Play according to the merit of the ball, and whatever runs we could get out of both sessions. Our game plan was very simple – if we get any loose ball then we’ll try and play our shots but if they are bowling in good areas you just have to respect that,” he added.
It’s a pitch where you need to give enough time as a batsman: Pujara
Pujara stated that the pitch was by no means an easy one to bat on and it required patience to score big runs. “The way they bowled, we had to build a partnership. I felt that even if we take a little more time…I didn’t feel that it was a flat pitch where you can just start playing your shots and keep scoring runs. Even if you look at the entire day, the scoring rate is less than three runs an over. It’s a pitch where you need to give enough time as a batsman and when you get a loose ball, then only can you play shots.”
“When it happens to be a wicket like today, where there’s a lot of help for bowlers, then it’s important to be patient. The bowler has the leverage, where he can also bowl by experimenting a bit. If you have a total of less than 200 then the team struggles a lot overseas. The team’s target is often to reach 250-300 or beyond 300. For that, the starting two sessions are very important in Tests and it’s necessary to bat with patience because the bowler is fresh, the wicket is fresh, and you can’t play too many shots,” he added.