Welcome to our live report of the first day of the Australia-India Test from Melbourne. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here
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6.00pm: Stumps – India 36 for 1
India’s bowlers did all that could be asked of them on the opening day of the Boxing Day Test as they removed Australia for 195 led by Jasprit Bumrah, R Ashwin and a superb debut by Mohammed Siraj with the home side unable to post a half-century between them.
Faced with just under an hour to bat at the end of the day, and the 36 all out still fresh in the memory, a thunderous first over from Mitchell Starc – among the finest you will see to start an innings – concluded with Mayank Agarwal being pinned lbw having done well to survive the first five deliveries.
Even with just 27,615 spectators (itself a triumph for many reasons) the ground reverberated to the excitement of what could be about to unfold, but debutant Shubman Gill and the experience of Cheteshwar Pujara took the sting out of the mini session – aided by Gill being dropped on 4 at slip by Marnus Labuschagne – to the extent that they scored at three-and-a-half an over.
Australia’s total followed their 191 first innings in Adelaide as ball continued rule in the early stages of the series, the opening day of this Test coming on an MCG surface that offered more encouragement than any in recent memory. Those planning to attend the fourth day will be a touch nervous.
Full report to follow
5.05pm: Australia 195 all out
So Australia couldn’t reach 200 in their first innings for the second match running. India needed a good day to start this day and with an hour remaining they have had one. But that last hour could define the day. If they through with one wicket lost that would cap the performance. Memories of day three in Adelaide will be fresh for both sides. The India bowlers could not have done much more.
Bowling Australia out under 200 after losing the toss isn’t a bad in office for the Indian bowling unit which is without their two leading members. They were very well captained too #INDvAUS
— Sambit Bal (@sambitbal) December 26, 2020
4.55pm: Can India finish strongly?
It has been an superb day for India, but they will wrap up Australia swiftly. While certainly a below-par total there is enough in the pitch for the quicks and spinners to suggest it will remain tricky for batsmen. If the tail can get the total to 200, Australia certainly have an attack to keep them in the game. Don’t forget, it was only a week ago India were bowled out for 36. They won’t be full of confidence with the bat.
4.15pm: Into the bowlers
Mohammed Siraj’s outstanding first day in Test cricket has continued by trapping Cameron Green lbw to leave Australia 155 for 6 and the bowlers exposed. Can India keep Australia to around 200? That would be some effort.
Such lovely Test match bowling from Siraj! Excellent over even before this over in which he kept testing Green outside off with his line and length and now the wicket ball nips in. Shows his control over the red ball and why he has excelled in FC games in recent years #AUSvIND
— Vishal Dikshit (@Vishal1686) December 26, 2020
4.00pm: Paine out or not out?
Tim Paine is still batting thanks to a borderline decision from the third umpire, Paul Wilson, who ruled there was no conclusive evidence to give him run out. It was a question of a missing frame and it went in Paine’s favour. It has certainly prompted some debate on social media. Also worth noting that unlike in the day-night Test it is back to the traditional stumps and bails.
Here’s Sid Monga
Whether you agree with the not-out call on that run-out appeal against Tim Paine or not, it is important evidence that technology is not always 100%. Even with line calls. The replays here showed the bat on the line from one angle, but possibly in from the other. Now it is the same bat and the same wicket, and the technology has returned an ambiguous verdict. This is why there is an umpire’s call in the game. This is why we need umpires. This is why please spare a moment before you rant against a tight short run called by an on-field umpire but a replay from one angle shows the bat possibly slightly in.
3.30pm: Dean Jones tribute
Dean Jones’ wife and daughters, accompanied by Allan Border, leave his baggy green cap and bat resting against the stumps in the middle of the MCG, applauded by the crowd. Quite a moment #AusvInd
— Daniel Brettig (@danbrettig) December 26, 2020
A special moment at the MCG in memory of Dean Jones pic.twitter.com/QO504NboHi
— 7Cricket (@7Cricket) December 26, 2020
3.10pm: Tea – Australia 136 for 5
A huge moment came shortly before tea when a perfectly executed plan removed Marnus Labuschagne, flicked Mohammed Siraj around the corner where Shubman Gill held an excellent catch at leg gully. It was deserved reward for Siraj who has been impressive on his debut and, alongside the wicket of Head, gave India the afternoon honours and left a lot resting on the shoulders of Cameron Green and Tim Paine. However, the form of Australia’s captain offers hope of a recovery. He is now second behind Adam Gilchrist for averages among Australia’s wicketkeeper-batsman. Dan Brettig wrote about it in the lead-up to the Test.
2.40pm: Around the wicket does for Head
Travis Head was starting to go through the gears, but Jasprit Bumrah made the breakthrough for India when he drew a thick outside from around the wicket which was well held at around fourth slip by Ajinkya Rahane. It is an angle of attack that has regularly troubled Head: in his Test career he averages 24.20 facing right arm pace bowlers around the wicket compared to 40.00 from over-the-wicket.
Bumrah’s 2nd over of the afternoon and Head skews one straight to the wide slip from around the wicket. No-one should ever bowl to him from the over the wicket #AusvInd
— Daniel Brettig (@danbrettig) December 26, 2020
2.10pm: Australia steadied
Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head have done a very good job for Australia since lunch, although it feels as though India have slightly taken their foot off the gas. Jasprit Bumrah was held back from another spell until just before the drinks break. Labuschagne did take a strong blow on the helmet from a Mohammed Siraj short ball which led to a significant delay as his helmet was checked. Head, meanwhile, who is could be under a little bit of pressure when David Warner returns has been very compact and punchy. The pitch continues to bring a excellent balance between bat and ball, but it has flattened out and this could now be an afternoon to cash in.
Head will have good memories of last year’s Boxing Day Test against New Zealand.
1.50pm: Bowling tactics
Here’s Sid Monga
Nick Knight has made this point on air too, and it is something worth debating. The rule of thumb generally is to start a new session with two bowlers likeliest to get a wicket. On the evidence of the first session, these two gentlemen are Jasprit Bumrah and R Ashwin. Now I know you want to play the debutant Mohammed Siraj into the game and you haven’t bowled him at all in the first session, but India will be wondering if they should have been more ruthless with the start of the session. Now Ashwin has been replaced by Umesh Yadav. Still no Bumrah, and since lunch Australia have added 25 for 0 in eight overs since lunch.
1.25pm: Siraj gets his chance
He was the fifth bowler used, but Mohammed Siraj started his Test career with the ball when he started the second session. And it was a promising beginning, hitting a good length around off stump and touch 143kph. It’s also worth noting that his career best 8 for 59 came against an Australia A side and his haul included Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne.
Just back to Steven Smith for a moment: today was his fifth Test duck and first since 2016.
12.30pm: Lunch – Australia 65 for 3
That’s India’s session and just what they needed after the Adelaide collapse. It was within a whisker of being even better when Marnus Labuschagne survive an lbw on the DRS having been given out to R Ashwin sweeping. The bounce saved Labuschagne after he had been given out on the field. Labuschagne had been keen to try and score but it has been harder work for Travis Head who has battled to 4 off 37 balls. Mohammed Siraj is still waiting for his first bowl in Test cricket while Ravindra Jadeja released a little bit of the pressure with a few loose deliveries.
Here’s Sid Monga:
Watching Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor grind out tough runs in Mount Maunganui on the other screen, you are left wondering if Australia’s batting has been too casual for a first session in a Test match. R Ashwin has been phenomenal again – a bonus for a visiting side’s spinner to get this early assistance, which could just be because of the early moisture – but look at the number of casual shots. It started with that waft from Matthew Wade, but let’s not look at just the wickets. Marnus Labuschagne has been extremely fortunate to still be there despite a flurry of loose shots.
Just as a comparison, during the 36 all out, India were not in control of just 32 deliveries. In this session alone, Australia’s batsmen made a false response to 29 deliveries for the loss of just three wickets. The expectation in the coming session will be that the pitch will settle down a little with the sun beating down, but India will fancy themselves to keep them under pressure because they have got these wickets already.
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) December 26, 2020
12.00pm: Ashwin v Smith
Only one person is winning this head-to-head so far:
1st innings, Adelaide
26.6 Ashwin to Smith, OUT, got him, Ashwin has struck with an absolute beauty! He got Smith like this in Dharamsala in 2017, but that was from around the wicket. I don’t know if this was meant to go on straight or if it was just natural variation, but he plays back to a length ball just outside off, and it skids through quick, takes the outside edge of his defensive bat, and straight into Ajinkya Rahane’s lap at slip. Almost seemed to leave Smith off the pitch, kind of like the Mohammad Nabi arm ball
1st innings, Melbourne
14.3 Ashwin to Smith, OUT, big, big moment. Smith has glanced one to Pujara at leg gully. Ashwin bowls one down the leg side, not sure how much that was part of the plan but Smith couldn’t help and looks to get off the mark. Makes the connection alright but ends up hitting it straight to Pujara, who tumbles to complete the catch. Smith fetches a blob, means he has two runs in three innings with one not-out for Smith so far in this series
11.30am: Tense opening hour
It has been an absorbing start to this Test with a bit of life in the pitch meaning a good battle between bat and ball. Matthew Wade, having played very well for an hour, has given his wicket away by lofting R Ashwin into the leg side where Ravindra Jadeja clung onto a superb catch despite almost colliding with Shubman Gill. In an interesting move from Ajinkya Rahane, who has replaced Virat Kohli as captain, he brought on Ashwin inside the first hour and there was some early turn on offer. Umesh Yadav hasn’t been quite as consistent as Jasprit Bumrah but two wickets is good reward for India and puts some pressure on Australia.
11.00am: Early strike for India
India have been rewarded for some good early bowling by removing Joe Burns for a duck. Jasprit Bumrah was especially challenging with the new ball and found a thin edge from Burns in his third over to make it back-to-back Boxing Day ducks for the opener. There is encouraging pace and carry in the pitch with signs that India can make it hard work. Matthew Wade has looked very confident, nailing a couple of sweet drives through the off side against Umesh Yadav.
Burns’ second consecutive Boxing Day duck, except this time he lasted 10 balls and then fished uncertainly at the ball that got him. Credit to Bumrah’s lines and lengths so far #AusvInd
— Daniel Brettig (@danbrettig) December 25, 2020
10.15am: Remebering Deano
Here’s Dan Brettig from the MCG on how one of Australia’s greats will be honoured
Tributes to Dean Jones will take on many and varied dimensions during the Test. A whole bay of MCG seats has been handed over to a large image of Jones, while spectators have been encouraged to “zinc up” in homage to Jones’ habit of doing likewise when he played. Jones’ family will be present at the MCG for the match, with a teatime video tribute scheduled to take place at 3.24pm, recognising Jones’ baggy green cap number and also his highest first-class score of 324 against South Australia in a day/night Sheffield Shield match at the MCG in 1994-95.
10.05am: Australia bat first
The coin fell in Tim Paine’s favour and he was happy to bat first. Wonder of Ajinkya Rahane was happy he didn’t have to make the decision. If there is any early life, Jasprit Bumrah should be able to find it.
Here’s a bit more on India’s other debutant Mohammed Siraj
9.50am: Pitch report
Damien Fleming, on Channel Seven, says there is 11mm of grass on this pitch. That could interest the quick bowlers on both sides, but surely it’s a bat first day. It’s a clear, sunny, warm day. India need to put that Adelaide batting performance behind them as quickly as possible.
‘Australia have obvious holes that India can still exploit’
9.30am: Boxing Day at the G
A perfect day for the Boxing Day Test at the ‘G.
— Melbourne Cricket Ground (@MCG) December 25, 2020
Welcome, everyone, to one of the iconic days on the cricket calendar: Boxing Day at the MCG. For a long time it looked as though this wouldn’t happen so it’s great that the series has got here and that we’ll have 30,000 spectators. Just to recap where we are in this contest – India have to find a way to bounce back from being bundled out for their lowest Test score (36) in Adelaide a week ago. We already know they have made four changes in an attempt to do that – two of them enforced with the absence of Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami – but it will be a mighty task. Australia are still without David Warner and have named an unchanged team. Not often you have both XIs confirmed 24 hours out from the game. The toss is half an hour away.
India will have two debutants: Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj. If you want to know a bit more about Gill, a hugely talented batsman, have a look at this piece below.
The story of Shubman Gill, who comes from Punjab, to earn India’s Test Cap No. 297 #AUSvIND
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) December 25, 2020
Who is excited for Boxing Day? pic.twitter.com/GeptSvmCVk
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) December 25, 2020