Aus vs Ind, 3rd Test: Pucovski, Labuschagne light up Day 1

A rain-marred opening day of the 3rd Test in Sydney witnessed hosts Australia on top with 166/2 at stumps. Will Pucovski and Marnus Labuschagne’s partnership hurt the Indian bowlers who had to work hard in search of wickets at the SCG. The shower on Thursday allowed only 55 overs of play after the initial four overs which saw David Warner back in the hut.

Debutant Will Pucovksi lived up to the hype as he batted confidently throughout before getting dismissed by India’s debutant Navdeep Saini. The hosts lost David Warner in the fourth over of the day after which rain intervened. Incoming Labuschagne kneaded a crucial 2nd wicket partnership of 100 runs off 185 balls. Australia managed to keep the Indian bowlers at bay on a pitch best suited for the batters.

Pucovski struck a fifty on debut and was dismissed on 62. Steve Smith who was under a lot of pressure after the first two Tests’ poor show with the bat, came out all guns blazing and was off the mark effortlessly. Smith and Labuschagne further frustrated the Indian bowlers with quick runs and boundaries. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohd. Siraj managed to choke the batsmen for run initially, but with the introduction of Saini, the hosts started squeezing out runs.

Ashwin too failed to get a breakthrough, who was exceptional in the first two Tests. With the pitch expected to turn from Day 2, India will be hoping to break the 60-run 3rd wicket stand between Smith and Labuschagne. Rishabh Pant dropped Pucovski twice on Day 1, which drew criticisms from the pundits. India’s gamble to include a batsman, with minimal keeping qualities is yet to pay off, quoted former cricketers.

An elated Pucovski expressed post Day 1’s play, “It wasn’t the best sleep I’ve ever had. In my head I think I’d built up I was going to be ridiculously nervous, and it wasn’t that bad in the end. I was pretty much just excited that the opportunity had finally got there and I was there on the ground receiving my Baggy Green.”