Australia made the most of good batting conditions on a rain-shortened day as the third Test against India kicked off at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.
Debutant Will Pucovski and Marnus Labuschagne scored half-centuries as Australia recovered after losing David Warner early in the innings.
At close of play, Australia had recovered to 166/2 with Labuschagne not out on 67 and Steve Smith unbeaten on 31.
India’s bowlers toiled hard on a wicket that is good for batting and the team might have been in a better position
if they had taken all their chances.
Australia opener Pucovski was dropped twice by wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant – first off Ashwin (on 26) and then off off Siraj (on 32). He went on to make his fifty but Pant also single-handedly kickstared the whole wicketkeeeper-batsman vs batsman-wicketkeeper debate again.
Pucovski went on to get a fifty but it meant that Steve Smith was cooling his heels in the dressing room for that little bit longer.
In a series where runs have come at such a premium, dropped chances are pure gold for the opposition. Pant is trying his best but at the moment, it is not good enough.
Smith ended the day on 31 off 64 but at one point he had 26 off 32 balls with five fours, including a couple against R Ashwin. But this wasn’t just Australia going with the flow – rather they came out wanting to make sure that Ashwin and the other Indian bowlers weren’t allowed to settle into a good rhythm.