The best and worst from Day 1 of the Melbourne Test
Pat Cummins celebrates the dismissal of Mayank Agarwal. (AFP Image)

The best and the worst from day one of the third Test between Australia and India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Shot of the day

On his Test debut, Mayank Agarwal played a confidence-coated knock of 76. He got off the mark with a positive drive off Mitchell Starc that fetched him three runs. He carried forward the same belief and played some incredible shots during his 161-ball stay. The cover drives, off Nathan Lyon in particular, were exquisite. In the offspinner’s first over, he slapped a drive into the covers. Later, Lyon floated it wider and Agarwal cracked another four with the panache of Virat Kohli. These could have easily been the shot of the day before Agarwal went one up and produced the first six off the match, not surprisingly, off Lyon. It was the first ball of the 48th over, which was bowled full. Agarwal stepped out and almost played a slog sweep to deposit the ball just over cow corner. Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara played some fine shots as well, but none better than the six from the debutant.

Ball of the day

It should be safe to say that the fashion in which Agarwal was batting, he looked set to get a century on debut. He and Pujara played out a spotless second session. Well, almost. On the stroke to tea, Pat Cummins, easily the pick of the bowlers, produced a delivery that prevented India from playing out a perfect session. It took a very good short ball from Cummins to end Agarwal’s innings as he nibbled a well-directed delivery off his ribs and was taken by Tim Paine down the leg side. Not the best of deliveries overall, but surely big given the context of the game and how Agarwal beginning to gradually grind Australia.

Stat of the day

India’s opening conundrum is nothing new, but here is an alarming stat that will prove just how deep-rooted the issue is. On the opening day, India’s newest opening Test pair of Hanuma Vihari and  Agarwal put on 40 runs for the opening wicket, and while the runs may not be enough, the number of overs they batted on was for 18.6 – which mean 113 deliveries. Do you know that this is the longest that an Indian opening stand has lasted in terms of balls in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) since July 2011? Yes, as surprising as that is, it is a fact. It has taken India a little over seven years and five months for an opening pair to play that long. In this period, India have toured Australia thrice (this being the third tour), England twice, South Africa twice and New Zealand once. The last time it happened was against England, during the first Test at Edgbaston, where Abhinav Mukund and former opening batsman Gautam Gambhir batted for 18.2 overs to put on 63 runs for the first wicket. Yes, it’s been that long.

Controversy of the day

Agarwal’s impressive debut had everyone speaking great things about the young India batsman. However, former Australian cricketer-turned broadcaster, Kerry O’ Keeffe landed himself in hot water over his comments on Agarwal’s First-Class credentials during day one of the Boxing Day Test. Agarwal was apparently ridiculed by O’ Keeffe while commenting for Fox Sports with Mark Waugh, stating that Agarwal’s highest First-Class score of 304 not out came against canteen people & waiters. Waugh said Agarwal’s FC average of upwards of 50 is like 40 in Australia. Fans took to twitter to vent their anger against O’Keefe, while a cricket journalist also tweeted about the incident stating – “it’s pretty uncool to ridicule the FC comp of another country while using dubious stereotypes for a cheap laugh…”

Moment of the Day

We’ll reserve this one for the 7-year-old braveheart Archie Schiller, Australia’s “Co-Captain” for the Test. Archie received his Baggy Green from Australia’s players and was seen beaming with joy. Archie walked out with Paine during the toss and even said a few words. On being asked by the presenter about his words of wisdom given to the Australian team, Archie simply replied: “Hit sixes and get wickets. ” Well, isn’t that what it’s about?