Murali Vijay made Australia’s bowlers toil in the brutal Brisbane heat with a defiant century as India frolicked in the second Test at The Gabba yesterday.
Vijay profited from two dropped catches by Shaun Marsh to score his fourth Test century against Australia and his first in the country, putting the tourists in a commanding position after the opening day.
The Chennai right-hander, cruelly out for 99 in the Adelaide series opener, made it look easy on a Gabba pitch where Australia have remained unconquered for 26 years.
Vijay was out late in the day, caught behind off spinner Nathan Lyon for 144 — equaling Sourav Ganguly’s 2003 knock as the highest score by an India player at The Gabba.
“Today was really hot and was testing us all. As a batsman I could see a lot of bowlers sulking out there because it was really hot,” Vijay said. “The [post-tea] session was really important for us and I thought a lot of people on their team were getting tired. I wanted to wait until that time and make use of it.”
Vijay batted for 332 minutes and faced 213 balls with 22 fours. He put on 124 with Ajinkya Rahane for the fourth wicket.
At the close India were 311-4, with Rahane unbeaten on 75 and Rohit Sharma not out 26.
The century continued Vijay’s impressive start to the four-match series with scores of 53 and 99 in India’s 48-run defeat in the first Test.
He was helped along the way by two chances put down by Shaun Marsh on 36 and 102, both off Mitchell Johnson’s bowling.
It was a sorry day in the field for Australia, with both new pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc having fitness problems in the heat and a third bowler, Mitchell Marsh, off the field with hamstring trouble.
“I thought the first session was OK, the second session very good, third session very poor,” Australia coach Darren Lehmann said. “It was very hot, and we understand that as a group and a team, but we’ve got to be better than that in the last session.”
Vijay’s dominance came after India had their third bad umpire’s call in the series with the dubious dismissal of Cheteshwar Pujara.
Pujara appeared to be caught off the grille of his helmet 40 minutes after lunch and was sent on his way by English umpire Ian Gould for 18.
Pujara attempted to sway out of the way of a Hazlewood bouncer and his gloves went up to shield his face, only for the ball to come off the grille to Brad Haddin.
Pujara stood at the wicket, before leaving shaking his head at the umpire’s decision, which followed dubious calls suffered by Shikhar Dhawan and Rahane in the first Test.
India appear to be paying for their refusal to use the Decision Review System in Test cricket over accuracy fears.
Paceman Hazlewood, playing in his debut Test, grabbed the key wicket of Virat Kohli for 19 in the 45th over, giving Brad Haddin his third catch of the innings.
Kohli, who was outstanding in Adelaide with a century in each innings, attempted to cut, but was beaten by the extra bounce and edged to the wicketkeeper.
It was a tough first day for new skipper Steve Smith as his bowlers failed to press on after having the tourists on 137-3 halfway through the day.
Smith’s situation was not helped by Mitchell Marsh’s right-hamstring injury just after lunch.
Dhawan’s was the only wicket to fall in the morning session and it was all-rounder Marsh who made the breakthrough.
Marsh claimed his first Test victim when Dhawan slashed away from his body and top-edged to Haddin for 24.
Marsh pulled up in pain after bowling his sixth over and left the field.
India have not won in five Tests at The Gabba, while Australia have not lost at the ground since a nine-wicket defeat to a Viv Richards-led West Indies team in 1988.
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