Mayank Agarwal made a half-century on debut as India ended the first day of the Boxing Day Test against Australia on 215-2 in Melbourne.
Agarwal made 76 while Cheteshwar Pujara was unbeaten on 68 at the close as Australia toiled on what appeared to be another flat MCG pitch.
Pat Cummins was able to cause problems with short deliveries and took two for 40, but some strong bowling from Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood went unrewarded.
India won the toss and elected to bat. Agarwal settled in quickly and had done most of the heavy lifting in moving the score on to 40 before Hanuma Vihari fell cheaply, out for eight.
Agarwal scored well, striking nine boundaries including a six off Nathan Lyon, but did look vulnerable to Cummins’ short balls on occasion and would eventually be out to one that he gloved behind just before tea.
The Perth pitch for the Australia New Zealand Test in 2015/16, widely criticised for prompting the end of Mitchell Johnson's Test career, saw 0.7 of swing and 0.5 of seam in the first innings. Today at the MCG we've seen 0.4° of swing and 0.5° of seam. #AUSvIND— The Cricket Prof. (@CricProf) December 26, 2018
There were no further breakthroughs for Australia in the evening session, with Pujara pushing on to 68 and Virat Kohli surviving a strong chance which was put down by Tim Paine in the slips off Starc while on 47.
“I’m happy, I would definitely take a 76 rather than something less than that. Saying that, I would have liked to have gone on and be there at the end of the day,” Agarwal said after stumps.
“Honestly, I thought they bowled extremely well and didn’t give us many loose balls. They kept it tight and they were attacking,” he added.
“We need to now try and post up a big score. The bigger the score the more pressure we can put on them.”
Australia batsman Travis Head said Thursday morning’s play will be crucial for both teams.
“It was a tough day at the office, grinding Test cricket. They batted well and we created pressure,” he said. “We need to make sure we come back tomorrow morning and bowl the way we did today.”
“Things can change, momentum can change and I don’t think we’re far away.”
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