Sydney: Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal headlined a strong day for India on the opening day of the New Year's Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Pujara was unbeaten on 130 while Agarwal scored a classy 77. At stumps, India were 303 for 4.

After India won the toss and elected to bat, they were dealt an early blow. Josh Hazlewood removed KL Rahul who was lucky to get another opportunity after disappointing in Adelaide and Perth. However, the day belonged to two old-school batsmen with superb techniques to counter a top-quality Australian bowling attack.

Agarwal was aggressive while Pujara settled down to grind the Aussie bowlers. Both men, however, used their feet to tackle Nathan Lyon, who has so far taken 18 wickets and has easily been Australia's best bowler in the series. It was also because Agarwal wanted to dominate Lyon that he missed his maiden hundred - he came down the track but the wily Lyon had shortened the length and Agarwal failed to reach the pitch of the ball.

Agarwal was caught at long-on by Mitchell Starc for 77.

Virat Kohli, who finished 2018 as the top scorer in ODIs and Tests, joined Pujara at the crease and Australia were staring at a long evening. Pujara continued to look solid and Kohli looked like he was in the mood to punish Australia with a pink bat in hand.

India had moved to a strong 177 for 2 at tea. Pujara was unbeaten on 61 and Kohli looked well settled on 23 not out. But Hazlewood struck right after tear and Kohli was back in the dressing-room.

Ajinkya Rahane has played a couple of good, crisp innings in the series but his form has been a cause for concern for a long time now. The Indian Test vice-captain managed 18 before being done in by a Mitchell Starc bouncer.

Pujara was unfazed and in the company of Hanuma Vihari, stretched India's advantage. The run-machine from Saurashtra brought up his 18th hundred, 3rd of the series and fifth against Australia with a well-timed boundary off Josh Hazlewood.

Meanwhile, Hanuma Vihari, who had been asked to open the innings in Perth, had moved back to No.6 and showed exemplary footwork to frustrate Australia.

It will be a tough second day for Australia unless they can pick up quick wickets in the morning. Pujara is set for a big score at the SCG. Hanuma Vihari was not shy to play his shots and then men who follow him are never shy of playing the big shots: Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja.

India have never won a Test series in Australia and Virat Kohli, after winning the Boxing Day Test, had said his team would not stop with the MCG victory. They have begun well in Sydney.

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