Emotional Warner century gives Australia advantage

Hosts continue domination of India on return to SCG and scene of Phillip Hughes death

Australia’s David Warner kisses the spot at the SCG where teammate Phillip Hughes was felled by a bouncer after reaching 63 runs, the score Hughes was on when he was hit. (Photograph: REUTERS/David Gray)

Australia’s David Warner kisses the spot at the SCG where teammate Phillip Hughes was felled by a bouncer after reaching 63 runs, the score Hughes was on when he was hit. (Photograph: REUTERS/David Gray)

 

A poignant century from David Warner put Australia in complete control of the fourth Test against India, with the hosts 348-2 at stumps on day one.

Warner and Chris Rogers shared their most productive opening stand, hammering home the hosts’ advantage after Steve Smith won the toss at the SCG.

Warner paid tribute to Phillip Hughes upon reaching 63 not out, removing his helmet and kissing the pitch where his close friend was felled by a bouncer while on the same score.

Australia slipped from 200 for no loss to 204-2 in the space of seven minutes during the second session, Warner out for 101 and Rogers falling five runs short of his first Test ton this summer.

But Shane Watson (61no) and Steve Smith (82no) continued the run spree - albeit at a slower pace - against an impotent Indian attack.

Smith pushed his series tally beyond 650 runs, seeing off the 10 fruitless overs India had with the second new ball.

Watson was dropped on the penultimate ball of the day, the edge flying off first slip Ravichandran Ashwin’s hands and to the rope.

The tourists relinquished the Border-Gavaskar trophy in Melbourne, where a draw gave Australia an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-Test series.

Pride was the only thing on the line in Sydney - and India showed little. The hosts raced to 0-39 after five overs, Umesh Yadav’s opening spell ending after his two overs went for 18 runs.

Poor fielding, an issue all summer for India, continued to dog the tourists. The worst error came from KL Rahul, who set the tone when he put down a regulation catch at second slip when Rogers was 19 and Australia 0-46.

Rahul, who made an underwhelming debut at the MCG, bellowed in disbelief and new captain Virat Kohli looked exasperated.

There were more what-ifs than is normally associated with a missed chance. Shikhar Dhawan, who reportedly clashed with Kohli in the Gabba changerooms, was dropped among four changes to India’s XI.

If selected, Dhawan would have been fielding at second slip when Rogers was reprieved by Rahul in the eighth over.

Michael Clarke, calling the game for the Nine Network, was surprised Kohli wasn’t there in Dhawan’s place. “I wonder if he’s got a hand injury or he doesn’t have the confidence to be in there,” Clarke said. “But it’s really strange, particularly as captain, for him not to be in the slips cordon.”

Kohli had more pressing concerns - how to build enough pressure to engineer a dismissal, let alone 20. He tried short spells and funky fields, but none of it worked.

Warner feasted on anything short and wide - and there was plenty - before falling to offspinner Ashwin, the pick of India’s bowlers.

Rogers showed exquisite timing throughout his knock, but it departed him when a century beckoned and he played on to Mohammed Shami.

The opening partnership was 34 runs short of the highest first-wicket stand in an SCG Test, which Bob Barber and Geoff Boycott put on in 1966.

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