Adelaide: Indian bowlers took four wickets in the final session of the opening day of the first Test but Australian opener David Warner’s belligerent knock of 145 put the home team in a slightly better position with a total of 354 for six at the Adelaide Oval here Tuesday.
Left-handed Warner got good support from skipper Michael Clarke (60) and Steve Smith (unbeaten 72) to help Australia snatch the initiative on the first day of the emotionally charged Test as India was made to toil without much result in the first two sessions of play.
For the visitors, pacers Mohammed Shami and Varun Aaron picked up two wickets apiece but their economy rates took a beating against a destructive Warner, who grabbed all eyeballs with some scintillating strokeplay.
Experienced medium fast bowler Ishant Sharma only managed the solitary wicket of Chris Rogers, but looked stand-in skipper Virat Kohli’s best bet to inflict damage on the hosts.
India surprisingly fielded debutant Karn Sharma instead of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. The leggie didn’t get much help from the turf and Clarke and Warner punished him, dispatching several weak deliveries to the fence.
But the Meerut youngster accounted for big-hitting Warner, who danced down the track and was caught at deep mid-wicket by Ishant.
After losing Chris Rogers (9) and Shane Watson (14), Australia rode on the 118-run Warner-Clarke third wicket partnership before the latter retired hurt due to back spasms, which have been bothering him for the last couple of years.
However, Warner continued his aggression on his way to his 10th century as the Indian bowlers failed to control him. The 28-year-old cut, pulled, drove and sliced to collect 17 boundaries which helped him to grab his fifth Test century in 2014.
Later, Mitchell Marsh (41) and Smith stitched a useful 87-run partnership to provide comfort to the Australians.
However, Marsh was caught at gully by Kohli off a Varun Aaron delivery and the next two batsmen – Nathon Lyon and Brad Haddin – fell to Shami quickly.
While Nyon had his stumps dismantled, wicketkeeper-batsman Haddin edged it to glovesman Wriddhiman Saha. Play was called off after the final wicket with four deliveries of the 90th over still to be bowled.
Earlier, Clarke won the toss and decided to bat – a decision justified by Warner. He tore the Indian bowling apart in the first four overs as Australia raced to 40 runs. Warner milked three boundaries in the second over, bowled by Aaron, to make his intentions clear.
He smashed Shami in the next over for three more boundaries and continued to hit the fence regularly, forcing Kohli to replace an erratic Aaron with Ishant in the sixth over.
Ishant responded to the challenge brilliantly, dismissing Rogers. The batsman lost his wicket while trying to cover drive a ball which teasingly moved away from him. He played it into the waiting hands of Shikhar Dhawan at second slip.
Watson (14) joined Warner in the middle with the team’s score reading 50/1 but the right-hander didn’t last long as he guided an Aaron delivery to Dhawan while attempting a slice towards the point region.
Despite two wickets tumbling, Warner remained his usual self and reached his fifty with a pull off Aaron in the 15th over.
Prior to the match, a rousing 63-second standing ovation marked a tribute to Phillip Hughes, who died Nov 27 after being hit by a bouncer during a domestic match.
Both teams wore black armbands in memory of the 25-year-old Hughes, who was batting on an individual score of 63 when a Sean Abbot bouncer hit him on the neck at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Nov 25 and he died two days later.
The Adelaide Oval crowd stood in silence as Richie Benaud paid a stirring video tribute to Hughes on the big screen. The crowd then erupted into applause for 63 seconds.