Virat Kohli defied a disciplined display from Australia’s bowlers to bat through the second session and help the tourists to 107 for three on the opening day of the day-night first test at Adelaide Oval on Thursday.
Spinner Nathan Lyon broke Kohli’s 68-run partnership with the obdurate Cheteshwar Pujara shortly before the break and Australia will be hoping for some movement for their pacemen in the twilight session to drive home their advantage.
Kohli batted conservatively to reach the second break unbeaten on 39 off 111 deliveries and will resume for the final session with Ajinkya Rahane, who had two singles to his name.
Mitchell Starc had removed the out-of-form Prithvi Shaw with the second delivery of the day and Pat Cummins castled the other opener Mayank Agarwal later in the opening session to give Australia a strong start to the four-match series.
Pujara, Australia’s nemesis when India won their first series Down Under two years ago, proved more difficult to dislodge and had eked out 43 runs from 160 deliveries when he fell to Lyon.
The 32-year-old had struck his first two boundaries off consecutive deliveries from the off-spinner but was undone when a ball with a little bit of extra bounce hit his bat and flew into the air off his pad.
Marnus Labuschagne took the catch at leg gully but Australia needed to review the decision to finally remove Pujara, who scored 123 and 71 to lead India to victory in the corresponding test in 2018.
Captain Kohli, who won the toss and chose to bat, will be keen to make his mark on the series in his only test before he returns to India for the birth of his first child.
He provided most of what were rare flourishes for the restricted crowd of 21 000 to enjoy with four boundaries as India focused on building partnerships in difficult circumstances.