Boxind Day Test: Mayank Agarwal stays solid on debut, India 57/1 at lunch
Agarwal - brought in after failure of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay - batted with confidence, mostly playing with straight bat and treating the balls on merit
Making a confident start to his Test career, opener Mayank Agarwal took India to 57 for one at lunch on the opening day of the third match against Australia at the MCG, here on Wednesday.
Cheteshwar Pujara (10) was unbeaten alongside Agarwal (34 off 68 balls) after India lost make-shift opener Hanuma Vihari (8). This was after India won the toss and opted to bat on a docile pitch, putting its sixth opening pairing in 2018, and fifth in 11 overseas Tests this year.
But it proved effective as Vihari and Agarwal put on 40 runs after batting out 18.5 overs, India's longest opening stand in terms of balls faced in Test cricket across Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa since December 2010 when Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had batted out 29.3 overs against the Proteas at Centurion.
Agarwal - brought in after failure of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay - batted with confidence, mostly playing with straight bat and treating the balls on merit. The pitch turned out to be a batting beauty as there was good bounce and carry for the batsmen. The Australian pacers had to bend their back to get the Kookaburra ball to rise sharply.
It showed in how Nathan Lyon (12/0) came on to bowl as early as the eighth over, only the second time in his Test career that he had done so. Even in the previous four Indian innings on this tour so far, he had only come on to bowl in the 14th over each time.
Vihari took 25 balls and 33 minutes to score his first run as he batted with patience, which was lacking in previous opening partnerships in the first two Tests. He was hit on the helmet in the 13th over off Pat Cummins (4/1) as Australia started bowling short and attacking the batsmen more. The makeshift-opener shrugged it off and went on to face 66 balls, the second highest for an Indian opener in five innings this series.
Cummins got him off a sharp rising delivery in the 19th over, as Vihari took his eyes off the ball and gloved it to Aaron Finch in the slip region. The Australian pacers continued to test the Indian batsmen with sharp bouncers at every opportunity possible. At the other end, Agarwal also took a few body blows but stuck in at the crease.
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