Australia got off to a flying start on day one of the Sydney Test against India and did not look back. An opening stand of 200 runs between David Warner and Chris Rogers and the loss of only two wickets for the day saw the hosts post a whopping 2/348 on a day dedicated to the memory of Phil Hughes.
Steve Smith won the toss and elected to bat on a flat, hard wicket lacking a grass top that proved hard to bowl on. Rogers and Warner were confident from the opening ball and spanked the bowlers for 72 runs by the 13.0 over drinks break.
Chris Rogers was uncharacteristically flashy early in his innings and kept pace with the typically flamboyant Warner. Both openers found the middle and posted half-centuries before lunch. David Warner spoke earlier in the week of his emotions heading into the match and conducted a personal and touching tribute when he reached 63 not out, the number Hughes fell on at the same ground.
“I was quite emotional at the singing of the anthems.The little tribute there beforehand put those memories back in place, seeing that little smile up on the board before going out there and singing the national anthem was quite hard. I had a minute to myself when I came off before we went onto the field of play at the beginning of the day and I had my head in the towel,” Warner commented during a post match press conference.
The Indian bowlers bowled without much luck early. Warner narrowly avoided being bowled on 11 after an inside edge flew past his leg stump and to the boundary off the speedy bowling of Yadav in the 4th over.
Some poor fielding handed Chris Rogers a life on 19 when new boy Lokesh Rahul dropped a dolly in second slip off the bowling of Sami in the 8th over. Sami was the most consistent and dangerous pace bowler for the Indians throughout the day and was unlucky to not bowl in longer spells after producing good pace and movement.
After lunch David Warner wasted little time, racing to his third century for the series which included 16 boundaries and was struck from only 108 balls.
“I had to dig deep and go out there and bat the way I know I can and try to clear my mind,” Warner reflected after the match, clearly still struggling with the loss of his close mate.
Warner was dismissed soon after reaching the milestone, popping a ball up to short leg off the bowling of Ravi Ashwin for 101. Ashwin caused a considerable level of doubt for both openers at different stages throughout their innings and should enjoy more turn and variation in bounce as the wicket ages.
Chris Rogers was bowled on 95, dramatically short of a much needed century after posting his 5th consecutive half-century. A lazy shot, chopped on to the stumps off the bowling of Shami visibly frustrated the veteran who is doing his best to book a spot on this years Ashes tour.
“You never say never but I kind of looked at the future and thought the England series and what England has meant for me would be a nice way to finish,” Rogers commented post match.
Steve Smith came to the crease and batted as though he had never left it. Confidently stroking the ball for a lofted boundary to long on off his third ball typified the confident position of his side and his own level of form.
Partnered with a stoic Watson, the pair put on 144 runs and will return to the crease to resume the innings on day two looking to bury India deeper in debt.
Watson (61*) will be concentrating on hitting a century that should solidify his position in the squad while Smith (82*) heads towards his 4th century of the series.