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Pucovski shines on opening day



Australian debutant Will Pucovski has made an immediate impression on the first day of his Test match career, making 62 as the home side had the better of a truncated opening day of the third Test against India at the SCG.


35 overs were lost as rain stopped play for the best part of four hours, the weather eventually clearing mid-afternoon as Pucovski showed his immense talent with a fine half century, although afforded two chances during his innings.


Australia won the toss and chose to bat first, the series intriguingly poised at 1-1 after India's bounce back victory at the MCG last month.


David Warner returned from injury for Tim Paine's side, Pucovski joining him at the top of the order with Travis Head dropped after three poor dismissals so far in the series, Matthew Wade moving back down the order to number five to accommodate Pucovski's selection.


India also made two changes, vice-captain Rohit Sharma back at the top of the order replacing Mayank Agarwal, while speedster Navdeep Saini made his Test debut with Umesh Yadav ruled out with a calf injury.


Warner fell early as he edged Mohammed Siraj to Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip having made a scratchy five, appearing to still be battling the groin injury that ruled him out of the opening two Tests of the series.


Pucovski looked more assured as he reached 14 before the rain arrived after 35 minutes and 7.1 overs, stopping play until 3:00 PM to frustrate players and spectators alike, just 9,500 fans able to attend due to New South Wales government restrictions.


When play did resume the Victorian right hander showed his class, adding 100 for the second wicket with Marnus Labuschagne.


Pucovski was given two lives by wicketkeeper Rishbah Pant, the first off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin on 26 and then again a short time afterwards on 32 having top edged a Siraj short ball, Pant juggling the catch and unable to hold on, confirmed by replays.


He reached 50 from 97 balls in a memorable debut, but just as he and Australian cricket fans were dreaming of three figures Saini trapped him in front for 62, ending Australia's first century stand of the series.


Steve Smith came to the crease in search of his first score of the series having made just ten runs in his four knocks so far, beginning positively with an on drive off Saini that reached the rope.


Smith and Labuschagne would not be separated before the close of play, adding an unbroken 60 to guide Australia to a healthy position at stumps on day one.


Labuschagne reached his first half century of the series in getting to 67, Smith looking ominous in reaching 30 on the most benign batting surface so far of the series.


Play will resume at 7:00 AM AWST tomorrow, India chasing early wickets to work their way in to the contest.


IMAGE: Canberra Times.