Following Mayank Agarwal’s noteworthy debut performance, captain Virat Kohli and Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara took the charge and led India to 215/2 at stumps on the first day of the third Test against Australia at the MCG, Melbourne, on Wednesday. Agarwal scored an impressive 76-run knock, while the pair of Pujara and Kohli established a 92-run partnership stand, highest in the four-Test series, to keep the hosts at bay. Pujara was not out for 68 and Kohli unbeaten on 47, eyeing his 20th Test half-century, at the end of the opening day on a batsman-friendly wicket. Pat Cummins was the pick of the attack, taking two for 40. India came into the Boxing Day clash with a new pair of inexperienced openers after the misfiring Murali Vijay and KL Rahul were axed, suggesting a hint of panic as Kohli’s men look to win their first ever series in Australia. (SCORECARD)
Live updates between India Vs Australia, 3rd Test, Day 2 straight from Melbourne Cricket Ground
05:15 IST: 3 runs! Incredible display of footwork by Kohli. No one could smash it better. It takes India to 230 with a loss of two wickets.
05:09 IST: End of the over! India are 227/2 after 91 overs. It has been a bright start for India on Day 2 as they scored 12 runs off the first two overs.
05:06 IST: FOUR! Edged but runs! Pujara gets some quick runs here. And it brings up a 100-run partnership stand between Kohli and Pujara.
05:03 IST: FIFTY! Virat Kohli hits his 20th Test fifty off 110 balls. He runs for a quick three as the fielder at min-on takes much time while chasing the ball.
05:00 IST: Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara are out in the middle to resume Indian innings. Pat Cummins will bowl the first over for Australia.
04:55 IST: India were 215/2 on the first day of the third Test.
— BCCI (@BCCI) December 26, 2018
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 26, 2018
04:50 IST: Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the second day of the third Test between India and Australia at the MCG, Melbourne.
But the exciting Agarwal rose to the challenge in front of 73,500 fans after India won an important toss and opted to bat on a pitch that is expected to deteriorate as the match wears on. He stroked 76 and was looking impregnable before Cummins had him caught behind by Tim Paine as he gloved the last ball before tea down the legside. It brought Kohli to the crease to a huge roar from the large Indian contingent at the MCG and he set about building an unbroken 92-run partnership with the ever-reliable Pujara. The four-Test series is tied 1-1 after India won the opening clash in Adelaide by 31 runs and Australia drew level with a 146-run victory in Perth, making Melbourne a crunch encounter. Agarwal, who has been in fine domestic form, scored his first Test runs with a three through the covers off Josh Hazlewood and he had plundered 17 before the more cagey Hanuma Vihari, promoted to open from number six in Perth, troubled the scorers.
After two lively pitches in Adelaide and Perth produced results, the track in Melbourne was not bowler-friendly and skipper Paine brought on spinner Nathan Lyon in only the seventh over to see if he could weave some magic. But it was Cummins who got the breakthrough. Vihari had already taken a nasty blow on the helmet in the 12th over, with the physio needed to check he was okay. The right-hander continued but when he tried to avoid another brutal Cummins bouncer the ball pinged off his glove. Aaron Finch took an easy catch in the slips and he was gone for eight. All-rounder Mitch Marsh was then brought into the attack only to be met with boos from a section of the crowd, having been recalled in place of local boy Peter Handscomb. But Agarwal was unflappable and glided to his maiden Test 50 off 95 balls by effortlessly drilling a Lyon delivery past the non-striker for four. His 76 is the highest by an Indian opener so far this series. At the other end the patient Pujara deployed his usual blocking technique, picking off runs from loose balls.