Murali Vijay scored 144 and shared a century stand with Ajinkya Rahane as India's batsmen dictated terms to an Australian attack that fell short of expectations Wednesday on the opening day of the second Test.
Four days after losing eight wickets in the final session of a 48-run defeat in Adelaide, India dominated on day one in Brisbane to reach 311-4 at stumps.
Rahane, who shared a run-a-minute 124-run fourth-wicket stand with Vijay, was unbeaten on 75 and Rohit Sharma was not out 26.
Australia’s pace attack had been expected to exploit the extra bounce and pace that are characteristic of pitches at the Gabba, where Australia hasn’t lost since 1988, but the new-look bowling lineup didn’t get its length right and the fielding was sub-standard.
Vijay was dropped twice, on 36 and 102, both times by Shaun Marsh off Mitchell Johnson’s bowling.
He made the most of his reprieves, equaling Sourav Ganguly’s 144 in 2003 as the highest score by an Indian batsman at the Gabba. His fifth test hundred followed two half centuries in Adelaide.
Shikhar Dhawan (24), Cheteshwar Pujara (18) and Virat Kohli (19) all made starts but could not produce any big partnerships alongside Vijay.
The complexion of the innings changed after tea, when Vijay and Rahane accelerated the scoring rate against a bowling attack showing signs of fatigue in hot and humid conditions and missing allrounder Mitchell Marsh, who left the field with a hamstring injury two overs into the second session.
They moved the total from 137-3 to 261 before Vijay stepped down the pitch to take on off-spinner Nathan Lyon and got a feint edge to give wicketkeeper Brad Haddin his fourth catch of the innings. Vijay’s 213-ball innings contained 22 boundaries, and helped India become the first foreign team in more than 50 years to post 300-plus on day one of a test at the Gabba.
Both teams changed captains after last week’s series-opener, with MS Dhoni returning from a thumb injury for India and Steve Smith elevated to lead Australia in the absence of Michael Clarke, who underwent surgery for a hamstring injury.
Dhoni got the upper hand early when he won the toss, elected to bat and India put on 89 for the loss of one wicket in the first session.
Mitchell Marsh took his first test wicket, in his fourth test, to end the opening stand when he had Dhawan caught behind slashing at a wider ball in the 14th over.
His older brother, Shaun, put down a chance low and to his left at third slip in the next over from Johnson, giving Vijay and India a big reprieve.
Vijay continued with Pujara in a 44-run stand until Josh Hazlewood, making his test debut, snared his first wicket with a contentious dismissal which highlighted India’s trenchant opposition to the Decision Review System.
Pujara was given out, caught behind, to a short ball that deflected off his helmet and didn’t appear to clip bat or glove as he tried to fend it away.
Hazlewood was undeterred, following that up with the important wicket of Kohli, who scored centuries in each innings of the first test.
The 23-year-old Australian paceman gave Rahane a torrid welcome, beating him between bat and pad and then narrowing failing to grasp a return chance from a leading edge, but had to leave the field two balls into his 16th over with an injury.
Hazlewood, drafted in to replace injured veteran Ryan Harris, produced some decent pace and bounce and Johnson had chances go down off his bowling, but Mitchell Starc was ineffective after being picked in favor of Peter Siddle and Lyon leaked runs. Storms predicted for late Wednesday didn’t hit before stumps, although rain was again on the forecast was for Day 2.
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