Propelled by Murali Vijay’s 144, India were 311/4 at stumps on Day 1 in Brisbane with Ajinkya Rahane (75*) and Rohit Sharma (26*) at the crease. While Rahane dominated later in the last session, Vijay guided India to a commanding position with a masterful knock. The opener once again played the role of a sheet anchor after MS Dhoni, back at the helm of the team elected to bat. The opener showed poise as he shouldered the responsibility of building the innings. Although he took his chances, Vijay settled into the role that he is fast making his own and impressed with some beautifully timed strokes until he was sent back in the third session.
Earlier Vijay kept the first session in balance as he stitched an opening stand with Shikhar Dhawan. The pair watchfully negotiated the Mitchell Johnson-led attack which was not always as precise to lay a foundation. The Indian openers posted their first half-century stand outside Asia as they saw the crucial first hour of play through. On the wicket that had bounce, Johnson had exploited the conditions and tested the openers but they had done well to negotiate it on most occasions in the morning.
The sensibly built opening stand worth 56 was put to an end when Mitchell Marsh struck to pick his maiden Test wicket. The delivery took the edge of Dhawan’s bat on its way behind the wickets where Brad Haddin took the catch. After having done all the hard work, the left-hand stroke-maker was back in the dressing room for 24. In the following over, India would have lost Vijay too had Shaun Marsh held on to the edged ball in the gully region.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Vijay then batted patiently to take India to Lunch without further event in the session. The opener who was four short of his third successive fifty in as many innings, drove Mitchell Starc to the fence to get there in the over after lunch.
Early in the session, Mitchell Marsh was off the field with a hamstring injury. Johnson and Hazlewood then took over from the other two Mitchells in search of a wicket. The Australian bowlers were able to use the bounce afforded by the Gabba wicket to their advantage more as the day progressed.
India’s second wicket partnership was steadily taking shape when Josh Hazelwood gave the hosts a breakthrough claiming his maiden Test wicket on debut. The bouncer accounted for Pujara’s wicket and the No.3 had to make way for Virat Kohli.
India’s No 4 batsman and Vijay grafted runs however, once again a partnership was nipped in the bud. Brought back into the attack, the debutant paceman bowled a tighter line and sent back India’s in form batsman. Kohli looking to cut Hazelwood nicked the ball to the wicketkeeper and departed for 19. With Kohli back in the pavilion, Ajinkya Rahane took guard opposite Vijay.
The pair then scraped their way through the reaming overs to take India to tea at 151/3.
Early in the last session of the day Vijay inched into his 90s, with a boundary through covers off Johnson. In the following over he smacked Shane Watson through midwicket for four and sent the next to the fence too to reach the three-figure mark which had eluded him in his last two outings. A hard fought carefully compiled innings had borne fruit. However, on 102 he was let-off by Shaun Marsh off Johnson at short cover.
The Vijay-Rahane pair found the boundary and gaps at will as they added runs at a brisk pace in the early part of the post-tea sessions and took India past 200. They continued to glean runs of the Australian attack with ease as they increased the run-rate.
Vijay who had collected the majority of his runs through the off side continued to display his array of well timed shots. Rahane, who was playing the perfect foil to the opener, too made the most of the opportunities he got as he added to the total.
Vijay soon reached 2000 runs in Test cricket with a boundary through his favoured region off Hazlewood as the pair dominated the bowling. In the following over Rahane pulled Watson towards mid-wicket to run three and reach his half-century. However, the flourishing partnership was abruptly ended by Nathan Lyon for 124. The ball skimmed past the opener’s bat, who had come down the track to loft the off-spinner to the fence and was caught by Haddin.
At 261/4, Rohit Sharma joined his Mumbai team-mate in the middle. The stylish batsman launched Lyon into the stands and followed it up with a boundary to square-leg as India collected 11 off the over. While Australia awaited the new ball, Steven Smith handed the ball to David Warner and bowled himself as well.
With India two runs short of the 300-run mark, Johnson came back into attack wielding the shining second new ball. And Rahane got the visitors to the coveted mark on the first day with a boundary over point.
Australia’s woes with players continued as Hazlewood went off the field as the day approached while Rahane and Rohit took India to the end of day’s play.
Debut: Fast bowler, Josh Hazelwood for Australia
End of Day 1: India 1st inn 311/4 in 83 overs (M Vijay 144, A Rahane 75*, R Sharma 26*, J Hazlewood 2/44)
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