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Agarwal shines on debut as India grab advantage in Boxing Day Test

By The Assam Tribune

MELBOURNE, Dec 26: Debutant Mayank Agarwal provided the base with a confident half-century before Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara steered India to a solid 215 for two on day one of the third Test against Australia, here on Wednesday.

Agarwal, thrusted into the squad following failure of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay, responded with a 76-run knock off 161 balls, sorting out India�s opening woes to some extent.

The conditions, though, were completely different from what Rahul and Vijay had countered in bowler-friendly Adelaide and Perth. The MCG pitch turned out to be docile, ideal for someone making his Test debut as the Australian pacers had to bend their back to get the Kookaburra ball to rise sharply.

Make-shift opener Hanuma Vihari did not make many runs, getting just 8 off 66 balls in his 40-run stand with Agarwal but they batted out 18.5 overs, India�s longest opening stand in terms of balls faced in Test cricket across Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa since December 2010.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had batted out 29.3 overs against the Proteas at Centurion in that year.

The combination of Agarwal and Vihari was India�s sixth opening pairing in 2018, and fifth in 11 overseas Tests this year.

Agarwal missed out on scoring a hundred on Test debut but grabbed the opportunity with both hands. His 76 came off 161 balls with eight shots to the fence and one over it.

During his knock, he became only the second Indian to make a 50-plus score on debut on Australian soil after Dattu Phadkar (51) at SCG in December, 1947.

Overall, he became the seventh Indian batsman to score a half-century on Test debut. He fell at stroke of tea, caught down the leg side to be the second victim of paceman Pat Cummins, the only successful bowler for the hosts today.

Skipper Kohli and Pujara then took control over the proceedings denying the hosts any more success in the final session. However, Kohli survived a hostile Mitchell Starc over towards the end to stay unbeaten on 47.

Tim Paine grassed a caught behind chance when Kohli chased one from Starc in that over.

Kohli and Pujara, who is batting on 68, have stitched together a 92-run stand for the third wicket.

The Indian captain had walked out to bat to a mixture of cheers and boos, but soon impressed the capacity crowd at the MCG with his repertoire of strokes. He sped off the blocks and at one stage was scoring at a strike-rate of 70-plus before Australia reined things in with some tight bowling.

It soon reflected in India�s overall run-rate as well which didn�t cross 2.5/over all day.

At the other end, Pujara continued in his usual manner and brought up his 21st Test half-century off 152 balls.

Australia tried their best to etch out a breakthrough and in desperation also wasted a DRS review for lbw off Nathan Lyon (0/59).

They took the second new ball in the 83rd over, and the big moment came in the 87th over when Tim Paine dropped Kohli (on 47) off Starc (0/32).

Earlier, Agarwal kept the scoreboard ticking after a watchful initial period, reaching his maiden Test half-century off 95 balls.

It was only the second instance in 11 overseas Tests this year that Virat Kohli was yet to arrive at the crease with 100-plus runs on the scoreboard. The first instance was in Nottingham during the second innings against England.


India 1st Innings: SR Hanuma Vihari c Finch b Pat Cummins 8, Mayank Agarwal c Paine b Pat Cummins 76, Cheteshwar Pujara batting 68, Virat Kohli batting 47. Extras: (B-10, LB-6) 16. Total: (For 2 wickets in 89 overs) 215. Fall of wickets: 40-1, 123-2. Bowling: Mitchell Starc 16-6-32-0, Josh Hazlewood 18-5-45-0, Nathan Lyon 21-4-59-0, Pat Cummins 19-6-40-2, Mitchell Marsh 15-3-23-0. � PTI

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