(Reuters) – Indian opener Murali Vijay put Australia to the sword in their Brisbane fortress with a brilliant 144 to help drive the tourists to 311 for four at the close of play on the opening day of the second test yesterday.
The 30-year-old shared an opening partnership of 56 with Shikhar Dhawan, stalled a little in the sweltering heat after lunch and then opened up after reaching his fifth test century in the final session.
His innings came to an end after five and a half hours when he stepped down the pitch in search of a 23rd boundary and was caught behind off Nathan Lyon, Australia’s off-spinning hero from their 48-run victory in the first test.
“It was mentally challenging but when you are playing for your country you’ve got to do your stuff to the best of your ability,” Vijay told reporters.
“You can only go close to perfection, I think I did pretty well today.”
Ajinkya Rahane, who shared a 124-run partnership with Vijay, will resume on 75 not out on day two along with Rohit Sharma (26) as India look to inflict a first defeat on Australia at the Gabba since 1988.
It was a tough first day as stand-in Australia skipper for Steve Smith, who lost Mitchell Marsh to a hamstring problem after the all-rounder had claimed his first test victim in Dhawan with the only wicket to fall before lunch.
Debutant paceman Josh Hazlewood was also forced to leave the field midway through his 16th over, having taken his first two test wickets after lunch.
A miserable day for the Marsh family was compounded when Mitchell’s brother Shaun, recalled to replace injured captain Michael Clarke, dropped Vijay on 36 and again on 102.
“Eventful day,” said Australia coach Darren Lehmann. “Would be nice to have a full contingent out there.
“We’ve got get back in the game, they outplayed us today.”
Vijay had illustrated his rich vein of form with knocks of 53 and 99 in the first test in Adelaide and fully vindicated returning skipper captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to bat first after winning the toss.
Grabbing his third half century of the series with a drive through the covers for four in the first over after lunch, he was then forced to weather a period of pressure as Hazlewood removed Cheteshwar Pujara (18) and Virat Kohli (19).
Vijay kept his cool through a second session in which the tourists were only able to add 62 runs to their lunch score of 89-1 but hit his stride again when the bowlers tired in the afternoon sun.
Successive fours off Shane Watson took him to his century but he initially looked unaware of having reached the milestone before whipping off his helmet and raising his bat to the visitors’ dressing room.
India 1st innings
M. Vijay c Haddin b Lyon 144
S. Dhawan c Haddin b M. Marsh 24
C. Pujara c Haddin b Hazlewood 18
V. Kohli c Haddin b Hazlewood 19
A. Rahane not out 75
Ro. Sharma not out 26
Extras (b-4 nb-1) 5
Total (for 4 wickets, 83 overs) 311
Fall of wickets: 1-56 S. Dhawan,2-100 C. Pujara,3-137 V. Kohli,4-261 M. Vijay To bat: M. Dhoni, R. Ashwin, I. Sharma, V. Aaron, U. Yadav Bowling M. Johnson 15 – 2 – 64 – 0 J. Hazlewood 15.2 – 5 – 44 – 2 M. Starc 14 – 1 – 56 – 0 M. Marsh 6 – 1 – 14 – 1 N. Lyon 20 – 1 – 87 – 1 S. Watson 10.4 – 5 – 29 – 0 D. Warner 1 – 0 – 9 – 0(nb-1) S. Smith 1 – 0 – 4 – 0 Referees Umpire: Marais Erasmus Umpire: Ian Gould TV umpire: Simon Fry Match referee: Jeff Crowe