IND vs AUS, 3rd Test Report: Marnus Labuschagne, Will Pucovski Fifties Take Australia to 166/2 on Rain-Curtailed Opening Day

India vs Australia 201: Marnus Labuschagne and Will Pucovksi struck half-centuries on Day 1 of the third Test in Sydney.

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Half-centuries from Marnus Labuschagne and debutant Will Pucovksi helped Australia overcome an early blow as they finished a rain-interrupted opening day’s play of the third Test against India at 166/2. At stumps, Labuschagne was unbeaten on 67 while Steven Smith was on 31*.

Only 55 overs of play was possible that too after the play was extended due to over four hours of rain delay after Australia captain Tim Pain opted to bat first at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday. With the capacity limited to 25 per cent in wake of the fresh coronavirus cases spike in the city, spectators attended the contest wearing masks with few clothed in full-body gears.

However, the eyes were on the returning David Warner who played the Test despite not being 100 per cent fit after a groin injury he sustained in late November forced him out of action for over a month. He looked in discomfort especially when sprinting to the other end for a quick single.

Rustiness was evident as he was out after flashing at on outside off delivery from Mohammed Siraj to be caught in the first slip on 5.

Pucovski made his long-awaited and much hyped debut for Australia in Sydney and he repaid the faith with a maiden half-century. He was a bit cautious early on with the Indian bowlers targeting his pads.

His apparent difficulty against short delivery was also tested and a top-edge early on in the innings went fetched him his first four. And the Indian fielders were generous enough to hand him three lives en route to 62 off 110 deliveries.

Rishabh Pant was guilty of dropping him twice, once off Ravichandran Ashwin and then off Siraj in the space of four overs. There was a run out chance later on as well.

Together Pucovski and Labuschagne added 100 runs for the second wicket and were separated by debutant Navdeep Saini who trapped the former lbw on 62.

Meanwhile, Labuschagne took his time settling in and then began asserting himself. He has so far struck eight fours while consuming 149 deliveries.

His batting partner Smith didn’t take time and started dictating terms early on. Three crisp fours including two back-to-back off Saini were enough to indicate he was in a different mood today compared to his struggles in the opening two matches. He even stepped forward to Ravichandran Ashwin, hitting him for a four after the spinner was brought back into the attack considering the stranglehold he had enjoyed over the Australian previously in the series.

By the time the day’s play ended, it was the Australians who left on a positive frame of mind. However, there wasn’t much Indian bowlers could have done considering the flat pitch.

Brief Scores: Australia 166/2 in 55 overs (Marnus Labuschagne 67, Will Pucovski 62; Navdeep Saini 1/32) vs India on Day 1


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