SYDNEY: Australia rode on a 200-run opening stand between David Warner (101) and Chris Rogers (95) to reach 242 for two at tea on the opening day of the fourth and final cricket Test against India at the SCG, here today.
The Virat Kohli-led India fought back after the morning session to send back the openers but Shane Watson (10 not out) and captain Steve Smith (28 not out) did well to not only stitch an unbeaten 38-run partnership but also maintain the scoring rate at above four in the second session as well.
Warner was the first to go just post the lunch break but not after registering his third hundred in this series and 12th overall.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (1-55) gave India the much-needed breakthrough in the 45th over after getting the left-handed batsman to edge one to gully.
Rogers departed in the very next over when the left-hander got a thick inside edge of Mohammed Shami (1-49) and the ball crashed on to the stumps.
Watson and Smith then played intelligent cricket to not only blunt the Indian attack but also score runs at a good pace.
Earlier electing to bat on a hot and sunny morning, the Australian opener made merry against an Indian attack that once again lacked steam.
Lokesh Rahul dropping Rogers, was on 19 then, off Shami did not help matters for the visiting side as the openers took Australia to 123 for no loss at lunch.
Warner got to his 14th half-century and Rogers scored his fifth fifty of the series as the hosts scored at will.
On an emotional day for the Australian team, which is playing their first match at this venue where late Phillip Hughes was fatally struck by a bouncer six weeks back, the hosts made sure that tributes translate into performance as well.
After lunch, Warner (63 not out) and Rogers (52 not out) started off from where they had left. It looked to be a long day in the field for the visiting side, who despite tightening their bowling in the second session still conceded to concede runs.
The 150-run mark came up in the 34th over of the innings and two overs later, at 158/0, they had surpassed the highest opening stand of 157 runs they had previously put together against England at Perth in 2013.
In the 42nd over then, Warner brought up his 12th Test hundred – and third of this series – off 108 balls. It was an emotional celebration for the left-hander as he looked up at the skies and paid tribute to late Phillip Hughes.
Three overs later, he brought up the 200-mark for Australia and within only three hours of play, the match seemed to be slipping away from India already.
It was then that Ashwin struck as Warner was caught at second slip by Murali Vijay. With an economy rate of 2.89, the spinner had looked the only bowler in some control against the rampaging partnership and it was just reward for his efforts on a placid day one track.
It became a double blow for Australia as in the very next over, Shami bowled Rogers, an inside edge robbing him of a deserved hundred. Afterwards, Smith and Watson batted with solidity and avoided any further losses while Suresh Raina (0-14) too turned his arm over.