1st Test, Day 1: Rohit’s breezy fifty takes India to 77/1 after Australia bowled out for 177

Skipper Rohit Sharma struck a breezy half-century as India reached 77/1 at stumps against Australia on the first day of the first Test of the 2023 Border-Gavaskar Trophy series after bowling out the visitors for 177 on an engrossing day of cricket at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, here on Thursday.

Rohit batted aggressively and raced to his fifty off 66 deliveries as he and K.L Rahul raised 76 runs for the opening wicket as India set themselves for a big total in their first innings.

However, they let slip some of that advantage when Rahul got out just an over before stumps, raising Australia’s hopes after they failed to reach even 200 in their first innings on a spin-friendly track on which the ball was staying low occasionally.

Rahul, who looked cautious and resolute during his 71-ball 20, was foxed by debutant spinner Todd Murphy, as he tried to flick a delivery that gripped the surface and offered a return catch. R Ashwin (0 not out), who came out as nightwatchman, was unbeaten along with Rohit (56 not out off 69) at the stumps on the opening day.

Rohit started aggressively as India reached fifty runs off 94 balls. The Indian skipper played in limited-overs mode as he started with two fours off the first two deliveries bowled by his counterpart Pat Cummins.

Though the first four was inadvertent as Sharma tried to withdraw his bat and the ball streaked through the gap between third and fourth slips, the second boundary came off a flick as Cummins strayed to the leg side. He struck another four off the fourth ball of the over as India scored 13 runs off the first over.

With Scott Boland failing to find much purchase, Cummins brought in Nathan Lyon hoping the off-spinner would exploit the juice in the pitch to get him an early breakthrough.

But that did not happen and continued to bat aggressively, hitting Cummins for two fours in the fifth over Rahul helped himself to a four with a driving square through the covers.

Lyon, the best Australian off-spinner of his time who has taken 460 wickets in 116 matches, bowled well and did cause some trouble for the Indian batters but with Rohit in aggressive mode and KL Rahul very cautious, the Aussies failed to create many chances.

Sharma launched him down the ground for the first six of the match in the 14th over, taking a step down the pitch and hoisting him through the line. He also struck the offie for two fours.

Sharma intended to get onto the front foot at every opportunity, unlike the Aussie openers who were both caught on the crease. He completed his half-century off 66 balls, hitting eight fours and a six. However, just when the Indians were looking forward to ending the day with 10 wickets in hand, Rahul was out and thus giving Australia a foothold into the proceedings.

Brief scores:

Australia 177 all out in 63.5 overs (Marnus Labuschagne 49, Steve Smith 37, Alex Carey 36, Peter Handscomb 31; Ravindra Jadeja 5-47, Ashwin 3-42) v India 77/1 in 24 overs (Rohit Shama batting 56; Kl Rahul 20, Murphy 1-13).

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