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Vijay’s ton makes it India’s day

Rahane takes India to 311 for 4 on what was an exacting opening day for the Australians in the second Test

Vijay’s ton makes it India’s day - Cricket News
M Vijay’s dominance of the proceedings was so complete that at one stage he had accounted for 18 of the 20 boundaries hit all day.
The fourth ball of the 56th over of the first day’s play at the Gabba in Brisbane was a full, wide one from Shane Watson. M Vijay watched it all the way, waiting till it was under his nose, front foot forward, knee bent just so, opened the face of the bat ever so slightly and drove the ball to the cover-point fence. Ajinkya Rahane, batting along with Vijay, came across, and for a moment, there was an awkward pause. In the entire stadium, it seemed that Vijay was the only person who did not realise that his hundred was up.
The wave of relief that followed as Vijay took his helmet off, acknowledged the crowd’s cheers and raised his bat towards the Indian dressing room was individually expressed but collectively felt by 11 cricketers. At the Gabbatoir, on a fast, true, bouncy pitch, India had batted first against five men who bowled at 135kmh or more and thanks to Vijay, had come out right on top. Vijay, following up scores of 53 and 99 at the Adelaide Oval, made 144, powering India to 311 for 4 at stumps on the first day.
The first bit of good news for India came early in the piece, with Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan seeing off the new ball well enough to bring up the fifty partnership, India’s first overseas since Lord’s in 2011 when Gautam Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund brought up the milestone.
Dhawan (24), having done all the hard work against the frontline quicks, handed Mitchell Marsh his first Test wicket, slashing loosely against a short, wide ball to be caught behind.
Australia created another chance soon after: Vijay, on 36, flashed hard at Mitchell Johnson, presenting Chris Rogers the catch at slip. Rogers, going low, had his hands in a complete tangle, and grassed the offering.
Reprieved, Vijay tightened up, realising that he needed to leave alone plenty outside the off stump in order to get the bowlers to put the ball where he wanted it.
Cheteshwar Pujara wasn’t quite as settled as Vijay, but he was coping well when a short ball from Josh Hazlewood tailed back in to the batsman, going perilously close to glove before flicking the helmet on the way to the keeper. Pujara had done all he could to sway out of the way of the ball, but Ian Gould, the umpire, did not spot this and up went the finger.
Virat Kohli began with an awkward pull, and the swagger that accompanied his every action in the first Test, where his twin hundreds drove the bowlers to distraction, was absent. Kohli did not last quite long enough on the day, though, shaping to cut Hazlewood, only to be beaten by a bit of extra bounce to be caught behind.

All of a sudden, Australia, who had been pushed back by Vijay and the mini partnerships he formed with the others, sensed a chance to assert itself. It was helped no end by the fact that Ajinkya Rahane was as nervous as a pupil on his first day in a new school. Struggling to get his feet moving, unsure where his off stump was, Rahane pushed, poked, prodded and fished outside the off stump, but fortunately for him and India the edge was never taken.
Vijay’s dominance of the proceedings was so complete that at one stage he had accounted for 18 of the 20 boundaries hit all day. Vijay’s fluency was in such stark contrast to his mates that in one passage of play, Rahane contributed only one run of 45 the two added.
Vijay plays many pretty shots, the textbook cover-drive being the calling card. Equally, he picks the length balls from just outside off and whips them through midwicket. And then there is the back-foot punch, the most underrated of cricket’s shots. On the day, Vijay stood tall every time the ball rose, and rode the bounce with the agility of a surfer, shifting his weight from back foot to front, presenting the full face of his bat to pop the ball through the off side.
On a day when some of the fittest cricketers in the world were forced off the pitch by a combination of fiery sun, climbing heat and enervating humidity, Vijay pushed himself to keep going. Mitchell Marsh (hamstring), Mitchell Starc (heat exhaution twice) and Hazlewood (calf cramps) all left the field at different times, but Vijay was still pushing Rahane to run twos and threes deep into the second session, when the conditions asked the toughest questions.
Rahane settled down from his initial nerves and kept Vijay going when concentration levels dipped as on 102, where Vijay drove uppishly to cover where Shaun Marsh mistimed his leap to let the tough chance get away.
When Vijay finally fell, he had been at the crease more than five-and-a-half hours for his 144. A mighty heave at the end of a tired waltz down the pitch to Nathan Lyon only yielded a thin nick to the keeper, and Vijay would have been stumped by half a pitch, in any case, had he not made contact.
Rahane then assumed the role of senior partner, pushing on in determined fashion to reach 75 not out and take India safely through to stumps.

Please click here to see the full scorecard and follow live ball-by-ball coverage of Australia v India from Brisbane.

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