With David Warner leading the way, Australia dominated on the first day and were 348/2 at stumps on Day 1. After Warner (101) and Chris Rogers (95) set-up the innings with a 200-run opening stand, Steven Smith ensured Australia built on the advantage. Taking over from the openers, he and Shane Watson put the hosts in the driver's seat in an unbroken 144-run stand. The stand-in Australia captain was batting on 82 with Watson on 61 when play ended on Tuesday. (Also Read: HIGHLIGHTS: AUSTRALIA VS INDIA - 4th TEST, DAY 1, Sydney Cricket Ground)
Earlier, Rogers and Warner got Australia off to a flying start after Steven Smith elected to bat at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Bhuvneshwar Kumar replacing Ishant Sharma in the side conceded three runs off the first delivery of the innings to Rogers. While the opener steadily plucked runs off the Indian bowlers, his opening partner dominated the attack and that set the pace of the innings. (Also Read: India Squad for Tri-Series 2015 against Australia and England)
Early in the innings, Mohammed Shami induced an edge off Rogers but Lokesh Rahul at second slip dropped the chance while the batsman was on 19. The batsman then pulled the next ball to the fence to bring up the team’s fifty and didn’t look back thereafter. With runs coming in thick and fast, Ravichandran Ashwin was introduced in the 14th over half-way through the session. But the batsmen were not to be curbed and runs continued to trickle from the other end.
The on-song Warner raced to his half-century off just 45 balls as he plundered runs of the visitors. He struck Umesh Yadav through the cover region twice and to long-leg in three successive boundaries to reach 48. An over later he reached fifty with two off Bhuvneshwar Kumar. A few overs later, on reaching 63, the batsman paid tribute to his former team-mate, the late Phil Hughes, who had played his last innings on the very ground.
In the following over, capitalising on the life given to him, Rogers too reached his fifth consecutive half-century of the series in the last over of the session. Milking the Indian pacers, the Australian openers took the team to lunch at 123 without loss.
The left-handed opening pair continued to blunt the Indian attack well into the second session and maintained control of the innings on a batting friendly track. Warner who had resumed with his eye on yet another century pulled Shami to deep square-leg to reach his third hundred of the series while Rogers held up the other end patiently.
With the exception of Ashwin, the rest of the bowlers were milked by the openers en route to the team’s 200 until the off-spinner ended the stand. Ashwin had Warner caught at gully; and in the next over Shami knocked back on Rogers’ middle-stump with a delivery that took the inside edge of the bat and crashed into the woodwork.
With two wickets in two overs, Steven Smith joined Shane Watson who was yet to open his account to build on the foundation prepared by the openers. While the No.3 bided his time at the crease the in-form Australia skipper kept the scoreboard ticking to ensure that the hosts maintained the advantage. And with the Indian bowlers plugging the flow of runs with the two strikes, the home team went to in Tea at 242/2.
Ashwin began the second last session of the day with a maiden as he continued his effort to restrict the flow of runs. And to complement the senior spinner, Virat Kohli soon introduced Suresh Raina from the other end. While India strove for a breakthrough, Smith was the third Australian to reach his half-century on the first day. The fourth wicket partnership began to take shape as Watson settled in at the other end and chipped away at the bowling. The pair brought up Australia’s 300.
With the partnership past the three-figure mark and Smith doing bulk of the scoring, Watson found his nick. The No.3 bat inched towards his fifty with boundaries on the leg side off the spinners. Smith too on reaching 63 acknowledged his former team-mate who had departed on the same number never to return again.
Watson was the next to reach the 50-run mark with two off Shami towards long-leg as India struggled to put a lid on the flow of runs or create opportunities for a breakthrough.
Although India took the new-ball immediately after it was due, their pacers were not able cause a hiccup for the Australian batting line-up. And while Ashwin missed a difficult chance at first slip to send back Watson off Yadav on the pen-ultimate ball of the day, the hosts finished the day on top.
End of Day 1: Australia 1st inn 348/2 in 90 overs (D Warner 101, R Rogers 95, S Smith 82, S Watson 61)