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  5. Boxing Day Test, Day 1: Cheteshwar Pujara-Virat Kohli partnership gives India control after Mayank Agarwal's debut fifty

Boxing Day Test, Day 1: Cheteshwar Pujara-Virat Kohli partnership gives India control after Mayank Agarwal's debut fifty

Debutant Mayank Agarwal provided the base with a confident 76 before Kohli and Pujara steered India to a solid 215/2 on Day 1 at MCG.

AP Reported by: AP
Melbourne Published on: December 26, 2018 13:14 IST
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Boxing Day Test, Day 1: Pujara-Kohli partnership gives India control after Mayank's debut fifty

Star batsmen Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara mastered a placid pitch to place India in a strong position at 215-2 after Wednesday's first day of play in the third Test against Australia. (DAY 1 SCORECARD | DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS)

Kohli was unbeaten on 47 at stumps with Pujara on 68 at Melbourne Cricket Ground. The only two batsmen in the series so far who have scored centuries, Kohli and Pujara are both well-placed to add to their tallies of hundreds.

Australia had hoped the second new ball would bring wickets late in the day's play. World No.1-ranked batsman Kohli had a tense moment on 47 when he appeared to edge a low catch to Tim Paine off the bowling of Mitchell Starc, but the wicketkeeper was unable to grasp the difficult chance.

Kohli had won the toss and chosen to bat in sunny conditions on a pitch that had a covering of grass but offered little bounce and carry for the pace bowlers.

The state of the pitch will be carefully watched over the course of the match, after last year's Melbourne Test match between Australia and England was a tame draw and the pitch was officially rated as "poor" by the International Cricket Council.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting told Channel Seven on Wednesday the pitch was showing "worrying signs" because of its "lack of bounce".

The four-Test series is level at one-all. India has never won a Test series in Australia.

Debutant opener Mayank Agarwal scored a patient 76 before gloving a short ball from Pat Cummins to Paine as tea was taken at 123-2.

Agarwal had added 83 for the second wicket with Pujara, after the loss of Hanuma Vihari for eight at 40-1. Like Agarwal, Vihari had failed to handle a bouncer from Cummins, backing away and offering a simple catch to second slip.

It was a remarkable effort from seamer Cummins, who claimed 2-40 from 19 overs after forcing both openers into false shots on a largely unhelpful pitch.

But the departure of Agarwal was the warm-up act. Kohli's arrival at the crease for the start of the third session was greeted with loud booing. Kohli's on-field clashes with Australia's captain Paine in the second Test in Perth ensured sections of the first-day crowd of 73,516 in Melbourne would give Kohli an enthusiastic greeting.

Play was halted briefly when Pujara on 50 was struck on the right index finger by the fiery Cummins. Pujara's finger was taped before the batsman resumed at 174-2.

Pujara, the leading scorer in the series with 290 runs, suffered another bruising blow on 57 when Cummins crashed a short ball into his shoulder.

India dropped fast bowler Umesh Yadav and openers K.L. Rahul and Murali Vijay, while Australia recalled pace-bowling allrounder Mitch Marsh to replace struggling batsman Peter Handscomb. Marsh contributed 15 tight overs which cost only 23 runs.

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