India vs Australia, 4th Test Day 1: Centurion Pujara stands strong as visitors reach 303-4 at stumps

Cheteshwar Pujara (130) and Hanuma Vihari (39) are standing strong at the crease as India reached 303-4 at stumps on the opening day of the fourth Test at the SCG on Thursday.

India vs Australia, 4th Test Day 1: Centurion Pujara stands strong as visitors reach 303-4 at stumps
Image Credits: Twitter/@BCCI

Cheteshwar Pujara struck his 18th Test century while Mayank Agarwal also made significant contribution with the bat as India reached 303-4 at stumps on the opening day of the series-deciding fourth and final Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Thursday. 

After winning the toss and opting to bat first, India made a poor start to their innings as they lost opener KL Rahul cheaply for nine runs. Josh Hazlewood gave the breakthrough to Australia as he delivered a length ball outside off and Rahul went for a defensive shot, but got an outside edge straight to Shaun Marsh.

Subsequently, Agarwal joined forces with Pujara as he not only notched up a well-deserved second half-century in the longest format of the game but also stitched a crucial 116-run stand for the second wicket to steady India's innings. 

However, Agarwal failed to convert his fifty into hundred as he was dismissed for 77 runs off Nathan Lyon's delivery. 

Though skipper Virat Kohli then provided a much-needed support to Pujara from the other end, he failed to hold for a long at the crease and went back to pavilion for 23 runs. 
 
Pujara then notched up his third Test century of the series and 18th overall off 199 balls. He achieved the feat by clipping away to the fine-leg boundary off Starc's delivery.
 
At the end of the day's play, Pujara was standing strong at the crease and batting at 130 runs while Hanuma Vihari (39) was well-supporting him from the other hand.

For Australia,  Josh Hazlewood bagged two wickets while Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon also chipped in with a wicket each.

Here are the highlights:

# Stumps! 

# Pujara and Vihari are standing strong at the crease at their respective scores of 130 and 39 at the end of the opening day's play. They have guided the visitors past 300 runs to put them in command. India 303/4 (90 overs)

# While Pujara has opened up further after scoring the ton, Vihari too looks to make the Australians pay for their bad deliveries. The duo aims to continue to bat till the end of the day's play. The hosts, meanwhile, have taken second new ball of the day as they look to bag a wicket before stumps. India 282/4 (84 overs)

# With just 10 more overs left, the Indian batsmen are looking to score as much runs as possible against the Australian bowlers . The hosts, on the other hand, are desperately looking for a wicket before the day's play comes to an end in order to turn the tables in their favour. India 264/4 (79 overs)

# CENTURY! Pujara continues his good show at the crease on Day 1 as he brings up his third Test century of the series off 199 balls. He achieves the feat as he clips away to the fine-leg boundary off Starc's delivery. It is also his 18th Test hundred overall. India 239/4 (73 overs)

# Hanuma Vihari comes to bat for India!

# Wicket! Starc strikes for Australia. The Australian pacer delivers a bouncer to take a top edge of Rahane's bat and the ball goes straight to wicketkeeper and skipper Paine, who makes no mistake to take a simple catch. India 228/ 4 (70.2 overs)

# Pujara (94) has been steady as ever as he welcomes Starc with back-to-back boundaries. The Indian top-order batsman is approaching towards a century at a fast pace and is being well-suported by Rahane from the other end. India 228/3 (70 overs)

# Mitchell Starc replaces Pat Cummins into the attack! 

# Pujara seems to have not been impacted by Kohli's departure as he is still dealing with boundaries. Rahane, on the other hand, is taking his time in  the middle and making no wrong attempts to attack the Australian bowlers. The duo has managed to take India past 200 runs. They are well aware that the more they bat at this pitch, the more it will later become difficult for the Australians. India 210/3 (64 overs)

# While Pujara continues to pile pressure on the Australian bowlers despite Kohli's dismissal, Rahane is looking for chances to keep ticking India's scoreboard. Pujara is slowly and steadily also approaching towards his third century of the series. India 195/3 (59 overs)

# Ajinkya Rahane is the new batsman in !

# Wicket! Australia have bagged a big wicket in the form of Kohli. As and when the Indian skipper was looking settled at the crease, he was caught by his Australian counterpart Tim Paine down the leg side off Hazlewood’s delivery. Kohli departs for 23 as the visitors are now down by three wickets. India 180/3 (53 overs)  

# Tea! India 177/2 (52 overs)

# Pujara brings up his 21st half-century off 134 balls. He reaches the milestone by scoring a boundary off the second ball of Marcus Labuschagne's first over. It is also his fourth fifty-plus score in the ongoing series. India 173/2 (51 overs)

# The Australian bowlers are looking for a wicket as both Kohli and Pujara are now looking completely comfortable at the crease and hoping to build a mammoth partnership after the dismissal of Mayank Agarwal. Pujara is also approaching a half-century. India 161/2 (50 overs)

# While Kohli is looking to settle down at the middle, Pujara is too looking to attack the Australian bowlers as the duo aims to build a strong partnership. The longer the two manages to stay at the crease, the more difficult it will become for the hosts. India 140/2 (44 overs)

# The Indian skipper looked positive from the word go as he gets off the mark with a beautiful cover drive after Hazlewood drops the ball at good length. It seems Kohli wants to make use of a good batting pitch at SCG. He has to stitch a solid stand with Pujara if he wants to put India in a commanding position before the end of the day. India are 138/2 (38 overs). 

# Meanwhile, Kohli shows his support for the Pink Test and breast cancer awareness as he comes out at the crease wearing pink gloves and with a bat having pink sticker and pink handle.

# Skipper Virat Kohli is the new batsman in ! 

# Wicket! Agarwal was looking solid but was also looking at clearing the boundary rope frequently. After dispatching Lyon for a six over long-off, he looks to stage an encore but fails. The ball held up just a tad and it was lapped up by Cummins at long-on. A well-made 77 nonetheless for the Karnataka lad.India 126/2 (34 overs)

# Agarwal is looking solid at the crease as he has brought up a well-deserved half-century off  just 96 balls. It is his second half-century in Tests. The opener is getting a good support from third drop Pujara (27) as he is also slowly and steadily adding runs in his tally. Australia, on the other hand, are desperately in search of a wicket. India 113/1 (32 overs)

# Agarwal and Pujara have resumed the innings for India after lunch and the duo looks all set to consolidate the visitors .While Agarwal (44*) is just six runs away from a well-deserved half-century, Pujara has batted patiently so far from the other end. Australia, meanwhile, are desperately looking to break this partnership. India 83/1 (27 overs)

# Pat Cummins to start for Australia after lunch ! 

# Play resumes! 

# Lunch! India 69/1 (24 overs)

# Agarwal and Pujara are standing firm at the crease as the duo has brought up a 50-run partnership for the third wicket. Though Josh Hazlewood bowls a fuller delivery oustide off stumps, Agarwal finds a gap between cover and point as the Indian batsmen notch three runs to reach the fifty-run stand. India 62/1 (21 overs)

# India experienced a nervy moment in the 15th over of the match when the Australians went for a review for a caught behind against Pujara off Cummins' delivery. A defensive shot from the Indian batsman goes outside the ball's line, and straight to Australian skipper Tim Paine between his bat and body. However, the review shows there is contact only off his trousers, so Pujara (13) survives. India 53/1 (17 overs) 

# Agarwal and Pujara have managed to stitch a concrete stand to stabilize India's innings and take them past 50 runs. The departure of KL Rahul early had threatened to derail them early, but Agarwal has displayed steady show along with the dependable Pujara. The duo is looking to put a good score for the visitors before lunch. India 51/1 (14 overs)

# Drinks!

# After losing KL Rahul early, Agarwal and Pujara are playing cautiously as the duo looks to steady the visitors' innings. While Agarwal is looking in fine touch and playing quite confidently against the pacers, Pujara is definitely providing a good support to him from the other end. Australia, on the other hand, are looking for another wicket as it will firmly put them in control going into the first break. India 41/1 (11 overs)

# Pat Cummins comes into the attack as first change! 

# Cheteshwar Pujara comes to bat at No.3 !

# Wicket! India make a poor start to their innings as Australia get the breakthrough as early as in the second over of the day. Josh Hazlewood delivers a length ball outside off and Rahul goes for a defensive shot, but gets an outside edge straight to Shaun Marsh who makes no mistake to take a simple catch. The Indian opener departs for nine. India 22/1 (5 overs)

# Mitchell Starc will begin the proceedings for Australia with the ball.

# Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul have walked down the crease to open the innings for India. 

# The first day's play is all set to get underway!

# The Indian players are also wearing black armbands as a mark of their respect for legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar's childhood coach Ramakant Achrekar, who also recently breathed his last aged 87.

# Meanwhile, the Australian players are donning black armbands as their tribute to former batsman Bill Watson, who recently passed away. 

# For Australia, Peter Handscomb and Marcus Labuschagne replaces Mitchell Marsh and Aaron Finch, respectively in the Playing XI. 

# India have called in Kuldeep Yadav in the Playing XI as a replacement for Ishant Sharma. While KL Rahul will open the batting for the home side in place of Rohit Sharma, Hanuma Vihari will come in to bat No. 6 position.

# Lineups !

# India have won the toss and opted to bat first!

# The toss will take place soon.

After sealing a crushing win in the third Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), India will look to continue their momentum and clinch their first-ever Test series win in Australia when the two sides head into the fourth match at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Thursday.

Australia,on the other end, will head into the clash looking to bounce back and end the Border-Gavaskar series on a high note after having conceded a 1-2 lead to the Virat Kohli-led side.

As far as squads are concerned, Indian opener Rohit Sharma has been ruled out of the series-deciding clash in order to be with his wife and new-born daughter.

Meanwhile, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin--who  has been included in the 13-man squad for the final Test by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)---will continue to miss the SCG Test after failing to recover fully from the side strain.

While Umesh Yadav--who was dropped for the Melbourne Test--has been called in the squad as a replacement for Ishant Sharma, openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay will continue to cool their heels.

For Australia,Queensland's  Marnus Labuschagne has been named in the squad and he is likely to replace Aaron Finch at the top of the batting order. 

Kohli's team has already secured the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after winning the first Test at Adelaide by 31 runs and the third match in Melbourne by 137 runs. Australia had emerged victorious in the second match at Perth by 146 runs.

The two squads are as follows: 

Indian squad: Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane (VC), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav 

Australia squad: Tim Paine (captain, wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Mitch Marsh (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc