Australia were 259/5 at stumps on Day 1 of the third Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Building on the 115-run platform laid by Chris Rogers and Shane Watson, Steven Smith guided the hosts to a respectable position on the first day. He was batting on 72 with Brad Haddin (23*) at stumps. (Also See: HIGHLIGHTS: AUSTRALIA VS INDIA - 3rd TEST, DAY 1, Melbourne)
After sending back David Warner for a duck in the second over, India had conceded the advantage in the first session. But, the bowlers pulled the momentum back in the second session by removing Rogers and Watson off successive overs. While Ravichandran Ashwin bowled miserly spells the pacers toiled to maintain a hold on the innings as the day progressed. And striking at regular intervals the Indian bowlers kept the game evenly poised.
The Indian bowlers used the seaming conditions to their advantage early on after Australia opted to bat in the third Test. Opening the bowling with Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav sent back Warner on the second over and provided the visitors with a crucial breakthrough upfront. The pacer forced an edge from the opener and Shikhar Dhawan took a good catch at third slip to leave the hosts on 0/1.
However, Rogers and Watson stood up to the challenge and bided their time as they looked to build a partnership. The pair trudged on and put runs on the board with their running between the wickets. The twos and threes were the feature of the Australian batting for the rest of the day.
The first boundary came with Rogers slamming Mohammed Shami down the ground. The bowler bowled full but conceded runs as the batsmen looked to attack. Having seen the first hour through Rogers and Watson gleaned runs more surely off the Indian attack. The opener hit Shami for three boundaries in an over as they looked to up the ante. Watson cut and pulled as the pair steered the innings forward. Edges flew and while some fetched runs some didn’t carry to the fielders in the slip cordon as the pair kept the scorers busy. While the pace trio had conceded runs, Ravichandran Ashwin had plugged the flow from the other end after being handed the ball later in the session.
Dhawan’s fumble in the slips after Watson had edged Shami to the cordon awarded the No.3 bat a life on 37. And with Rogers he took Australia to Lunch at 92/1.
The Indian bowlers came out firing on all cylinders after lunch. Ishant hit the deck hard and welcomed Rogers with a short ball as he kicked-off the afternoon maiden over. The opener who was three short of his half-century at the end of the morning session, posted his third successive fifty with a single in the pacer’s next over. And Watson soon followed suit.
However, India removed both batsmen in the first hour of play. Shami induced an edge from Rogers which was caught by the wicketkeeper to end the stand. And without a run added to the score-line, Ashwin accounted for Watson in the following over. Looking to sweep the off-spinner, the batsman missed and was trapped lbw.
At 115/3 Shaun Marsh joined Steven Smith who was yet to open his account. The bowlers bowled a tight line and dried up the flow of runs, maintaining the pressure they had created by two quick wickets.
The Australian middle-order batsmen then set about the task of building a partnership and building on the foundation laid by Rogers and Watson. Carefully negotiating the Indian bowlers who toiled away diligently the pair grafted runs. While Ashwin kept the batsmen on a tight leash the batsmen batted patiently to take the team to tea without incidence.
However, Marsh squandered away the hard work in the second over after tea. Looking to cut Shami, he ended up nicking the ball to the MS Dhoni behind the stumps. The wicket brought to the crease, debutant Joe Burns.
Smith who had smacked Ashwin over long-off for to start the session, continued purposefully and guided Australia past 200 and soon brought up a carefully built fifty. But, his partnership with Burns was ended for 32. The debutant looking to pull Yadav only succeeded nicking the ball to the wicketkeeper and departed for 13.
Brad Haddin who then came to the crease plodded on before lofting Ashwin over mid-off for six. A couple of overs later he slammed a new-ball wielding Ishant to the fence as they looked to glean runs with end of day’s play in sight. Their partnership was unbroken on 43 when play ended on Friday evening.
Debut: KL Rahul for India and Joe Burns for Australia
End of Day 1: