Australia took command on an emotional first day of the fourth cricket Test against India at the SCG, with David Warner and Chris Rogers posting big scores and Steve Smith and Shane Watson rocketing past 50 as the hosts reached 2/348 at stumps.
A bumper crowd and more tributes to Phillip Hughes at the venue he was fatally struck by a bouncer in late-November ensured an electric but poignant atmosphere. Warner and Rogers emphatically rose to the occasion.
In a rare occurrence, the usually circumspect Rogers kept pace with the swashbuckling Warner. Warner eventually put on the afterburners and passed 50 in just 45 balls, while the century opening stand came up inside 20 overs. Rogers didn’t take long to rack up his fifth consecutive half-century.
Warner reached 63 and made another touching tribute to Hughes, taking his gloves and helmet off and kissing the pitch before looking to the sky.
— Brandon Allen (@BrannyAllenn) January 6, 2015
His century – off just 108 balls and Warner’s first at the SCG – was even more emotional, and the Matraville slugger’s milestone drew rapturous applause from the Sydney faithful.
— Candice Falzon (@CandyFalzon) January 6, 2015
The openers’ partnership reached 200, but Warner was out for 101 without any further runs being added, caught in close by Murali Vijay off Ravi Ashwin. Rogers then fell for 95 six balls later, chopping on to Mohammed Shami agonisingly short of his first Test century since February.
Smith played the aggressor while Watson took time to settle in – the skipper reached 50 while Watson was still plodding along on 26. But Watson’s confidence grew and he soon took charge of getting the run-rate moving to grab a half-century.
Watson was dropped on the second-last ball of the day off a forlorn Umesh Yadav, finishing unbeaten on 61. Smith appears headed for yet another ton, not out for 82 at stumps, while the duo’s partnership remains unbroken on 144.
Stud of the day
Rogers and Smith were superb, but David Warner once again proved his mind-blowing ability and penchant for producing on the big stage. After two subpar Tests with the bat, the stocky opener blasted his 12th century in just his 36th Test, hammering 16 fours in an emotion-charged innings.
Rogers was dropped at second slip when he was on 19 and Australia 0/46. It was a regulation chance, while Australia added another 154 runs before the first wicket fell.
After just one day India appears certain to be fighting for survival rather than a victory. With eight wickets in hand, a 500-plus score should be a formality for Australia, leaving India with a difficult final session to negotiate on day 2. The tourists have shown tremendous fight at times during this series – the abysmal lower order notwithstanding – but this shapes as potentially their most arduous task yet.
Chris Rogers has claimed the dubious honour of becoming the first Australian opener to make five 50s in a series without reaching a century – and given Australia’s likely massive first innings total, he may not get a chance to atone in the second innings.
Stumps Day 1 at the SCG: