(Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)
(Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)

Sydney:Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal put on 59 runs for the unbroken secondwicket as India reached 69 for 1 at lunch on day one of the fourth and finalTest against Australia here on Thursday. At the Sydney Cricket Ground, Agarwalwas unbeaten on 42 runs, while Pujara was batting on 16 not out at the end of24-over morning session.

Thiswas after India won the toss and opted to bat. Senior off-spinner RavichandranAshwin did not pass the fitness test this morning and was ruled out of thematch. The visitors then made two changes, with Lokesh Rahul and Kuldeep Yadavcoming in for Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma. Australia too made two changeswith Peter Handscomb and Marnus Labuschagne replacing Aaron Finch and MitchellMarsh. Mitchell Starc (0/27) and Josh Hazlewood (1/17) got the proceedingsunderway, with the Indian openers making a streaky start.

Thingsdid not change much for Rahul (9) despite missing the Melbourne Test, as heedged twice in the first four balls faced only for the ball to go to theboundary. He did not last long, edging Hazlewood to first slip in the secondover, and his nightmare run on this tour continued. This was the sixth openingpairing for India in 12 overseas Tests since January 2018, and the resultantopening partnership only averages 21.56 in 23 overseas innings. At the otherend, Agarwal settled down and stroked a couple of cover drives. He looked solidin comparison to his Karnataka team-mate and along with Pujara, drove theIndian run-rate forward.

Ina series where low scoring has been the norm, India were scoring at 4.29 perover in the first hour as they reached 46/1 at drinks. India crossed 50 shortlythereafter, with the duo bringing on their 50-partnership off 104 balls. Australialost a DRS review in the 15th over, when Hazlewood had a loud shout againstPujara turned down. There was nothing on the snickometer with the ball comingoff the batsman’s thighs.

Thehome side then resorted to run-saving tactics once again, and moved to ashorter length, targeting the batsmen’s bodies. Pujara was hit a couple oftimes, once on the head. Surprisingly Nathan Lyon (0/6) only came on in the22nd over — the latest he has bowled in any Indian innings this series. But hecould not provide a breakthrough before lunch either. India have taken anunassailable 2-1 series lead after winning the first Test in Adelaide by 31 runsand the third Test in Melbourne by 137 runs. Australia had won the second Testin Perth by 146 runs.

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