India made a steady start reaching 57/1 at lunch on the opening day of the third Test on Boxing Day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here on Wednesday.
At the break, debutant opener Mayank Agarwal (34 not out) and No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara (10 not out) went back undefeated after Pat Cummins ended the 40-run opening stand between the new opening combo of Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari.
Earlier, winning the toss and opting to bat on a docile MCG track, India’s new opening pair of Vihari (8) and Agarwal saw off the challenge relatively well until pacer Cummins struck with an absolute snorter to remove Vihari.
Vihari, who by the admission of BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad is a makeshift opener, started well and faced 66 deliveries before being undone by a short delivery from Cummins that ended in a simple catch to Aaron Finch at second slip.
Agarwal, however, went on playing well within himself to start with, but not holding back from his natural strokeplay when the opportunity presented itself.
The right-hander milked the off-spinner Nathan Lyon for a couple of boundaries and managed well to escape the nasty bouncers from the hostile Aussie pacers.
The removal of Vihari, set the tone for No.3 Pujara to step in and the Saurashtra right-hander played the perfect second fiddle to the debutant opener till the first session of play ended.
Earlier, the tourists made a couple of changes to their playing XI by handing Agarwal his first Test cap and bringing in left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja in place of inured offie Ravichandran Ashwin.
On the other hand, the hosts made just one change, bringing in Mitchell Marsh in place of Peter Handscomb.
The four-Test series is currently locked at 1-1.
Brief Scores: India 57/1 (Mayank Agarwal 34 not out, Cheteshwar Pujara 10 not out; Pat Cummins 1/11) vs Australia.