Pucovski made 62 while Marnus Labuschagne remained unbeaten on 67 as Australia finished Day One on 166/2

Pucovski was impressive on debut, while Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith found some form to put Australia in a solid position on a rain-curtailed Day 1 of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The Australian batsmen finally showed some intent and managed to put some pressure on R Ashwin and Company. The hosts have still not run away with the game and India will have to be at their absolute best on Day 2 if they want to stop Australia from posting a massive first-innings total.

A total of four hours were lost because of persistent rain and only 55 overs were possible on the first day. Opting to bat, Australia lost David Warner early but Pucovski (62) and Labuschagne put on 100 runs for the second wicket to lay a perfect platform for the middle-order.

Meanwhile, India looked far from their best and dropped a couple of easy chances on the field. When the stumps were drawn, Australia were 166/2 in 55 overs, with Labuschagne and Smith batting on 67 and 31 respectively.

The 22-year-old debutant, though, should be counting his lucky stars after two dropped catches from Pant – the latter which ignited plenty of anger among fans who accused Pant of claiming to have caught a catch which was overturned after replays indicated it bounced.

Despite his troubles with the hook he still looked solid on front and backfoot, transferring his weight expertly. He attacked Ravichandran Ashwin in a way no Australian had all series and set the pace for the day, even after losing the support of David Warner early.

By luck on his side, Pucovski made on his fifty when he pulled another debutant, Navdeep Saini, through the wide mid-on region for a boundary. Full Scorecard

Smith looked positive from the word go and was decided to not let the Indian bowlers manage terms to him.

Having entered the match after registering scores of 1, 0 and 8 in his last three innings, Smith’s first confident shot came against India’s pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, who was nicely driven through the mid-on for his first boundary of the series.

Meanwhile, Labuschagne too looked a lot more solid and got to his fifty with a superb cover drive. The fourth-ranked Test batsman might have got scores of 47, 6, 48 and 28 in the first two encounters but didn’t look at his best. However, Labuschagne batted a lot more freely today and looked in complete control from the word go.

Earlier, play resumed as the sun beamed brightly after a four-hour rain interruption. Groundsmen at the Sydney Cricket Ground worked relentlessly, including using a blower to go with the super-shopper, to get the surface ready for resumption at 3 pm local time.

As many as 35 overs were lost due to rain. Scheduled close of play was extended to 6.30 pm with extra 30 minutes permitted to ensure minimum overs.

Rohit Sharma returned to the Indian playing XI in place of Mayank Agarwal, while Saini was handed a Test debut, replacing an injured Umesh Yadav.


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