Brilliant Cheteshwar Pujara ton spares India’s blushes on day one of first Test against Australia

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Pujara notched up his 16th Test century on a day where his fellow India batsmen failed to trouble the scorers. (APP)
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Updated 06 December 2018
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Brilliant Cheteshwar Pujara ton spares India’s blushes on day one of first Test against Australia

  • India close the day on 250 for nine having won the toss and elected to bat.
  • Pujara the standout performer on the first day of the much-anticipated four-Test series.

ADELAIDE: Cheteshwar Pujara scored a gritty 123 in punishing conditions to claw India back into the opening Test in Adelaide Thursday after Australia seized early control with some blistering bowling.
Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc all grabbed two wickets and the tourists wilted to 250 for nine at stumps on day one.
The experienced Pujara faced 246 balls in his gutsy knock — passing 5,000 Test runs for his 16th Test century — as the wickets tumbled around him, including superstar captain Virat Kohli for three.
At the end of a day characterised by poor shot selection, Pujara went for a quick single on the second last ball and was removed in a brilliant run-out by a diving Cummins.
“It was one of my top innings in Test cricket, I could say top five,” said Pujara, adding that he was disappointed other batsmen didn’t do as well.
“To be honest we should have batted better but they also bowled well in the first two sessions and I knew that I had to stay patient and wait for the loose balls.
“We’ll learn from the mistakes and put up a better show in the second innings.”

Australia's bowlers enjoyed much success having lost the toss in Adelaide. 


Batting after Kohli won the toss, the visitors crumbled in a disastrous morning session under a pace barrage before digging in later in the day, with Pujara and Ravi Ashwin (25 off 76 balls) staging a fightback as the bowlers tired.
In their first home Test since the ball-tampering scandal in March, Australia took four wickets before lunch with the batsmen guilty of playing at deliveries they would have been better off leaving alone.
Australian bowling coach David Saker said it was a premeditated plan for the quicks to pitch it up and lure India’s batsmen into false shots.
“We got the wickets the way we thought we might get the wickets,” he said.
Starc added that he felt the attack was excellent for much of the day, but they let it slip in the final hour. But he was happy overall.
“If you’d said to us at the beginning of the day after losing the toss that we have them at 250 for nine, we’d have bitten your arm off,” he said

KHAWAJA STUNS KOHLI

Opener KL Rahul, who has been struggling for runs, flopped again, caught by Aaron Finch at third slip off Hazlewood for two.
Veteran Murali Vijay, in the side after young gun Prithvi Shaw suffered ankle ligament damage, didn’t last much longer, caught behind by skipper Tim Paine off Starc for 11.
In marched Kohli to a huge roar from the crowd, but Usman Khawaja at gully spectacularly caught him off a Cummins delivery as he attempted a drive, out after facing only 16 balls.
It was stunning one-handed take by Khawaja, whose preparations were upset by the shock arrest of his brother this week for allegedly framing a love-rival with a fake terror plot.
The dismissal of Kohli, who has scored five centuries in his two previous Test tours of Australia and rates Adelaide his favorite overseas ground, sparked wild celebrations.
Vice captain Ajinkya Rahane and Pujara worked to steady the ship.
But after returning from a break, Hazlewood enticed Rahane into a drive and he edged to Handscomb in the slips for 13.
Rohit Sharma, preferred in the final XI to all-rounder Hanuma Vihari, had compiled a patient 31 when he swept Lyon for six, narrowly missing being caught on the ropes.
Sharma then needlessly tried the same shot on the next ball, and this time debutant Marcus Harris comfortably collected the steepling catch, with the right-hander once more failing to capitalize on a good start.
It was left to Pujara, in his 65th Test, to stay at the crease and keep chipping away, building a 41-run partnership with Rishabh Pant and then 62 with Ashwin before he was run out by Cummins.


‘On edge’ Federer makes winning Paris return

Updated 27 May 2019
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‘On edge’ Federer makes winning Paris return

  • Angelique Kerber’s hopes of completing career Grand slam end after early exit
  • Kerber, 31, has now lost six times in the French Open first round

PARIS: Roger Federer marked his return to Roland Garros after a four-year absence with a straight sets win over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego on Sunday, admitting he “felt on edge,” as Angelique Kerber’s hopes of completing a career Grand Slam suffered a quick kill.

Federer, a 20-time major winner, had not played the tournament since 2015 when he reached the quarterfinals.

However, on Sunday, it was as if the 37-year-old had never been away as he swept to a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victory in one hour 41 minutes on a packed, rebuilt Court Philippe Chatrier.

It was his 60th successive first round win at a Grand Slam.

“I felt on edge at the start, my heart was beating crazily,” said Federer, who hailed the new-look stadium which has been 90 percent rebuilt in readiness for the installation of a retractable roof for 2020.

“I felt great playing on this court. It looks very attractive, so congratulations to everyone involved.

“Hopefully I can play here again for my next match.”

That match will be against German lucky loser Oscar Otte who won just his second match in eight years on the tour by seeing off Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.

“I would be surprised if Roger knew my name,” said Otte, the world No. 145.

Federer broke serve five times and fired 36 winners past 24-year-old Sonego, the world No. 73 who made the quarterfinals at the Monte Carlo Masters.

German fifth seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Kerber saw her hopes of a career Grand Slam ended by Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova.

Kerber slumped to a 6-4, 6-2 defeat to 18-year-old Potapova who was making her French Open debut.

“Kerber is actually one of my idols, and when I was young I was looking for her game,” said the 81st-ranked Russian who hit 28 winners past her German opponent.

Kerber, 31, has now lost six times in the French Open first round.

The German left-hander had come into Roland Garros carrying a right ankle injury which forced her to pull out of the Italian Open and retire from her second round tie in Madrid.

“I didn’t have many expectations coming in,” said Kerber, who was broken six times in the match which brought the curtain up on the newlook Chatrier arena.

Potapova’s first win over a top 10 player gives her a second round clash against 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.

Greek sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who stunned Federer on his way to the Australian Open semifinals and beat 11-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal in Madrid, also made the second round.

The 20-year-old sixth seed brushed aside Germany’s Maximilian Marterer 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4).

The new Court Simonne Mathieu, a 5,000-capacity semi-sunken arena enclosed by greenhouses, was officially unveiled on Sunday.

It forms part of the €350 million upgrade of the entire site which will also see the demolition of the Court 1 ‘bullring’ after the 2018 tournament.

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion, had the honor of opening proceedings against America’s Taylor Townsend and the 19th seed marked the occasion with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win.

“It’s cute,” said the Spaniard. “It’s not small, but it’s, you know, cozy.”

Other winners on the first day included Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori, a quarterfinalist in 2015, who eased past France’s Quentin Halys 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.

However, Italian 16th seed Marco Cecchinato, the man who sent Novak Djokovic crashing out in the quarterfinals in 2018, fell at the first hurdle.

Cecchinato lost to 37-year-old Frenchman Nicolas Mahut —  who has slipped to 253 in the world — 2-6, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

Canada teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime withdrew from the tournament with a thigh injury, just a day after finishing runner-up to Benoit Paire in Lyon.

The 18-year-old was seeded 25 and had been due to face Australia’s Jordan Thompson in the first round on his maiden appearance in the main draw in Paris.

Auger-Aliassime’s spot in the first round draw has been taken by Spanish lucky loser Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova closed play on Chatrier with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Madison Brengle of the US.