Sydney: A 200-run opening wicket partnership between David Warner and Chris Rogers helped Australia post a solid 348/2 at the end of the first day’s play of the fourth and final Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) here Tuesday.
It was a day to remember for the Australian batsmen as Warner (101) scored his 12th Test hundred while his partner Rogers (95) fell five short of what would have been his fifth century. Skipper Steven Smith (82 not out) and Shane Watson (61 batting) also scored half-centuries with the both of them unbeaten at stumps.
Indian bowlers were clueless on halting the run flow and taking wickets on what proved to be a classic batting track. Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar hardly managed to find his rhythm and swing the ball while Umesh Yadav remained wayward and expensive for most of his spells.
Mohammed Shami had pace and Ravichandran Ashwin looked dangerous a few times in the day but the Australian batsmen were totally in their groove.
Having already lost the series 0-2, India went in to the final Test making four changes to the squad. Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Bhuvneshwar came in to replace the retired Mahendra Singh Dhoni, opener Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara and pacer Ishant Sharma.
However, the changes bore no fruit as all three sessions were dominated by the home side.
Warner looked in a feisty mood from the word go and hammered the Indian bowlers for 16 boundaries all over the ground. Rogers played the anchor role to prefection and provided strong support from the other end.
Rogers caressed 13 boundaries to score his fifth consecutive half-century in Tests. However, he was in trouble as early as the eighth over, while batting on 19, when he edged a seaming Shami delivery.
However, young Lokesh Rahul at second slip dropped a sitter and Rogers went on to add 76 more runs to the Australian tally.
India finally found success in the middle of the second session when Warner edged a turning Ashwin delivery and was caught at slip. Immediately in the next over, Rogers lost concentration and played on Shami only to shatter his stumps.
However, the two quick wickets did not help India further as Smith and Watson held the innings together and guided Australia to build a platform for a strong total. Unless Indian bowlers create some magic at the start of Day 2, the home side is well on course to post a massive first innings total.
India had one last chance to take a wicket when Watson edged the penultimate delivery of the day but the ball went through Ashwin’s fingers at the slips.
There was an emotional moment towards the end of the first session when Warner reached 63 not out. He bent down and kissed the turf as a tribute to late cricketer Phillip Hughes, who on this very ground was struck by a bouncer Nov 25 which eventually led to his tragic death two days later.
Warner’s gesture was appreciated by the crowd which rose and applauded and looked towards a specific stand where Hughes’ family sat.
Hughes was also batting on 63 not out in the first class match when the bouncer hit the back of his head.