Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli built on an impressive 76 from debutant Mayank Agarwal to pile pain on Australia in the crucial third Test of the 5-match series.
On a docile, batsman-friendly MCG wicket, India ground their way to 215 for two at stumps on day one with the rock-like Pujara not out 68 and King Kohli unbeaten on 47 as the bowlers toiled in hot conditions for little reward.
Pat Cummins was the pick of the bowlers, taking two for 40.
India came into the Boxing Day Test with a new pair of inexperienced openers after the misfiring Murali Vijay and KL Rahul were dropped, suggesting a hint of panic as Kohli’s men look to win their first-ever series on Australian soil.
But the exciting Agarwal rose to the occasion in front of 73,500 fans after captain Kohli won an important toss and opted to bat on a pitch that is expected to deteriorate as the match wears on.
Agarwal scored 76 runs off 161 balls with the help of 8 fours and a six, he was looking impregnable before Cummins had him caught behind by Tim Paine as he gloved the last ball before Tea down the legside.
It brought Kohli to the crease to a huge roar from the large Indian contingent at the MCG and he set about building an unbroken 92-run partnership with Pujara.
Here’s how Twitter reacted:
Seeing my Best Friend getting his cap and debuting for the Country makes me so Happy and Proud today. 👑🤗
Upwards and Onwards my brother, you’re just getting started Monkus. 💪🏽 @mayankcricket
#295 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/r9n61VRewB
— K L Rahul (@klrahul11) December 26, 2018
Very happy for @mayankcricket . Has waited for his opportunity and has made it count on the big stage. Pujara solid as ever and Kohli looking good. India will need to bat big in the first innings #BoxingDayTest pic.twitter.com/iKtzIDXvXJ
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) December 26, 2018
A wonderful start to his Test Career for Mayank Agarwal and the two experienced batsman Pujara and Virat looking solid and playing really well. Hope India can carry on with the momentum and post 450+ and put pressure on the Australians #BoxingDayTest
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) December 26, 2018
Good day for India, though scored only 215 in the day, but the fact that they lost only 2 wickets makes it their day. 66 balls that Vihari played were very crucial, Mayank has had a great start ,Pujara and Kohli looking ominous #BoxingDayTest
— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) December 26, 2018
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) December 26, 2018
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) December 26, 2018
A well beginning is half done !! Well batted @mayankcricket for ur runs on debut !! A complete sense that u belong at the international level and the positivity with which u batted was a pleasure to see !! Well done young man .🏏🏏#AUSvIND #Boxing day test !! pic.twitter.com/VSpzbaJGqg
— Mithun Manhas 🇮🇳 (@MithunManhas) December 26, 2018
Fine debut for Mayank Agarwal. May not have been a hundred but he played like he belonged.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) December 26, 2018
Runs have been at a premium, but India with only two batsmen dismissed hold the edge. Of course a 2-3 quick wickets tomorrow could change the equation dramatically. Much depends on how Pujara-Kohli negotiate first hour. Story of first day surely Mayank Agarwal’s fine debut
— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) December 26, 2018
Like Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal made his Test debut against Australia at the mature age of 27, with much experience at the first class level. Mayank’s first Test innings may not have the dash of Dhawan’s, but it has been equally impressive, given the state of the series.
— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) December 26, 2018
what was all this fuss about test cricket? – mayank agarwal #AUSvIND
— Gaurav Kalra (@gauravkalra75) December 26, 2018