From Shobhit Nanda @ the MCG
Melbourne: With the test series equally poised at 1-1, India and Australia went into the boxing day test match with high expectations. Winning the toss was always going to be crucial and India’s captain Virat Kohli called correctly to bat first. This gives Indian, looking for their first series win in Australia, a good chance of taking the lead.
The Melbourne Indian community was at the ground in big numbers and no doubt joined by interstate & international visitors to attend the world famous day 1 of the boxing day test match at the MCG. The organisers for their part created exclusive Indian fan zones on either side of the ground where a sea of blue and a wave of tricolour flags were seen in numbers. The day ended up being the biggest crowd for an India – Australia boxing day at over 70K people.
Morning and Afternoon Sessions
The day started with a new opening pair for India, Mayank Agarwal on debut and Hanuma Vihari promoted up the order. They batted out the first hour and did their job to take the shine off the new ball before Vihari got ruffled up by a bouncer hitting his helmet and then later ended by hitting another short one in the air to the keeper. He made 8 runs but crucially batted for 66 balls. The day belonged to Agarwal as he reached his 50 on debut and looked good until he also hit a short one on the leg side to the keeper to get out on 76. A debut century was missed but none a less a positive start from the openers.
The morning and after lunch sessions were slow scoring affairs. The run rate at one point dipped to below 2 runs an over such was the pace at which Indians were batting. The Australian fast bowlers kept a good line and length and did not give away easy runs on what looks like a slow batting wicket. Hero of the second test, Australian off spinner Nathan Lyon was ineffective on this pitch and may come into play later in the game.
Post Tea Session
Mayank Agarwal at the stroke of tea lost his wicket and setting the stage for Virat Kohli to show his trade to an eager MCG crowd devoid of runs and wickets. He walked out as the Indian crowd cheered and sections of the crowd booed. He got off to a brisk start, scoring his first 20 runs at almost run a ball to increase the run rate before shifting gears gradually as the end of the day neared. His partnership with Pujara yielded over 90 runs off 200+ balls in the last session. There were a few opportunities created with the new ball and a half chance to get Kohli by a catch behind was missed. The day ended at 215/2 and even though the scoring rate was low, India ended up with a great position to take control of the game on Day 2 with captain Virat Kohli on 47* and Pujara in the 70s and looking as solid as ever.