Part-sluggish, part-attritional day of the Test match cricket would not have been what the host broadcasters would have had in their minds to back their build-up to India vs Australia blockbuster series, but it was exactly that kind of day in the four-match series opener at the Adelaide Oval on Friday. However, the star of the build-up - Indin skipper Virat Kohli - did live up to his top billing with a solid 74 off 180 balls before he was run-out by his deputy Ajinkya Rahane, late in the day. Rahane's departure soon after swung the day in Australia's favour, who after a solid first session seemed to lose way in the second. India finished day one of the first Test at 233/6 with the Wriddhiman Saha (9*) playing out a tough third session under lights. He has Ravichandran Ashwin for company on 15 off 17 balls.
India opted to bat first and Mitchell Starc had Prithvi Shaw's scalp off the second ball of the day before Mayank Agarwal's 40-ball 17 run knock came to end at the hand of a Pat Cummins special. Cheteshwar Pujara was rock solid before bat-padding one off Lyon while Kohli, available for this Test only, looked good for a century before a mix up had him walking back just three overs before the new ball was taken. The new ball and a fuller length from Starc accounted for a shaken Rahane for 42.
Earlier, Starc bowled a strong opening over to set the early tone after Kohli had aimed to put pressure on the home team by batting first. The left-arm fast bowler clean bowled Shaw off the second ball through an in-swinger and Pujara edged Starc in the same over which fell just short of diving Australian captain Tim Paine behind the wickets. Cummins pinned down both batsmen by bowling four successive maiden overs before he knocked the top of Agarwal's middle stump off a delivery that nipped back into the right-hander.
Both Agarwal and Pujara survived some close chances inside the first hours against Starc's pace. Pujara's flick against the left-armer eluded diving Nathan Lyon at leg gully while Travis Head couldn't grasp a hard chance at forward short leg off Agarwal. Kohli could have been dismissed on 16 in off-spinner Nathan Lyons third over when television replays suggested the Indian skipper might have gloved a leg-side catch behind the wickets, but Australia didn't go for a television referral.
The Indian skipper also needed a brief on-field medical treatment when he injured his right thumb while facing a sharp short-pitch delivery from Starc before pulling the left-arm fast bowler for a mid-wicket boundary in the same over. Pujara showed immense temperament against well-disciplined bowling and got his first boundary off his 148th ball when he hit Lyon for back-to-back fours.
However, he fell for the 10th time in Test matches to Lyon when Australia successfully went for a television referral when Marnus Labuschagne took a smart two-handed diving catch at leg gully as the ball clearly ballooned off Pujaras bat on the leg side. Rahane and Kohli then put on 88 for the fifth wicket, looking set to finish the day unbeaten, until the mix-up. Rahane played one from Nathan Lyon towards mid-off and took two steps, Kohli responded and by the time Rahane said no, Kohli was halfway down the pitch and Josh Hazlewood had picked up the ball throwing it to Lyon, who effected an easy run-out.
The new ball was taken in the first over itself Starc trapped Rahane in front. Hazelwood added the wicket of Vihari two overs later before Saha and Ashwin saw through the day.
Brief Scores: India 233/6 (Virat Kohli 74, Cheteshwar Pujara 43; Mitchell Starc 2/49) vs Australia