Kohli falls as Australia quicks put India on ropes

Kohli falls as Australia quicks put India on ropes

Australia grabbed four early wickets, including the prized scalp of star batsman Virat Kohli, to have India struggling at lunch on the opening day of the first Test in Adelaide on Thursday.

Batting after Kohli won the toss, on a day when temperatures were creeping towards 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit), the visitors crumbled under an opening barrage from quicks Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

At lunch, they were 56-4, with Cheteshwar Pujara not out 11 and Rohit Sharma, preferred in the final XI to all-rounder Hanuma Vihari, unbeaten on 15.

Hazlewood was the pick of the attack with 2-27 off eight overs.

Australia omitted vice-captain and all-rounder Mitch Marsh in preference for middle-order batsman Peter Handscomb, leaving them with just four recognised bowlers.

But they spectacularly rose to the challenge in the searing heat.

Opener KL Rahul, who has been struggling for runs, flopped again, caught by Aaron Finch at third slip off Hazlewood for two.

Veteran Murali Vijay, in the side after young gun Prithvi Shaw suffered ankle ligament damage in a warm-up game, didn’t last much longer, caught behind by skipper Tim Paine off Starc for 11.

In marched superstar Kohli to a huge roar from the crowd, but a stunning one-handed catch by Usman Khawaja at gully off a Pat Cummins delivery as he attempted a drive saw him back in the pavilion for only three off 16 balls.

The dismissal of the prolific skipper, who rates Adelaide as his favourite overseas ground, sparked wild celebrations.

It left India in trouble and the experienced Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane worked to steady the ship.

Spinner Nathan Lyon was brought into the attack and nearly had Rahane caught at short leg, but it just slipped past Handscomb’s fingertips.

Rahane capitalised, smashing a six off Lyon’s next over, only the second boundary of the match.

But after returning from a break, Hazlewood enticed him into a drive off a full delivery and he edged it to Handscomb, who took the catch above his head at second slip and he was gone for 13.

India, the world’s top-ranked team, have never won a Test series in Australia.