Ind vs Aus 3rd Test at SCG: Pucovski and Labuschagne put hosts on top : Debutant Will Pucovski rode his luck and Marnus Labuschagne showed resolve as the duo hit half-centuries to put Australia in a dominating position in a rain-curtailed opening day of the Pink Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Thursday.
At stumps, Australia’s score read 166/2 in 55 overs with Labuschagne and Smith unbeaten on 67 and 31 runs respectively. On a day when the Indian bowlers had to toil hard — for the first time in the Test series — 35 overs were lost due to rain.
Mohammed Siraj, playing in his second Test, struck in the fourth over to hand India an early breakthrough as opener David Warner — returning after missing two Tests due to groin injury – walked back after scoring just six runs.
Warner went for the drive, but only managed to get an outside edge and a simple catch was gifted to Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip. This is the first time in four years that Warner had been dismissed for less than 10 in a home Test.
The first session saw just 7.1 over being bowled and the persistent drizzle brought about an early call for lunch as the hosts’ score reads 21/1. After losing Warner early in the game, Pucovski showed great intent in front of a fierce bowling line-up and with Labuschangne for company, the two built a platform to bring the hosts back into the game.
In the second session, 23.5 overs were bowled and the hosts added 86 runs to their score. While Pucovski did bring up a fifty on debut, he did get a few chances to help prolong his stay in the middle. In the 21st over of the innings, wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant dropped a regulation chance off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin and India lost an opportunity to put the hosts in a spot of bother.
The misery for Pant did not end there, as he dropped another catch off the bowling of Mohammad Siraj, and as a result, Pucovski got his second reprieve of the day. The opener kept riding his luck and after a couple of catching chances, he looked ready to get run out after a miscommunication with Labuschagne. But a poor throw from Jasprit Bumrah saved him again.
With rain and a wet outfield playing spoilsport in the second session as well, almost two hours were lost. The second session also saw Indian pacers bowling on the shorter side, and as a result, Pucovski and Labuschagne had no problems in either leaving the ball or getting behind the line to defend it.
It finally took a full delivery from debutant Navdeep Saini in the final session to remove Pucovski (62). The opener’s dismissal saw Smith join Labuschagne in the middle and the duo played confidently and helped the side cross the 150-run mark.
Smith and Labuschagne added 60 runs for the third wicket before the umpires decided to remove the bails and end the day’s proceedings.
Brief Scores: Australia 166/2 (Will Pucovski 62, Marnus Labuschagne 67*; Mohammad Siraj 1-46)