Confident India eye historic breakthrough in Sydney

Australia's three quicks - Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins - peppered the Indian battling line-up with short-pitched deliveries throughout the day, only to be left deflated as their opponents reached a total of 4-303 at stumps on day one.

Irrepressible Cheteshwar Pujara stroked his third century of the series on Thursday to put India in a commanding position at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Pujara was ably supported by Mayank Agarwal (77), who scored his second 50 in as many matches as part of a 112-run partnership, as India profited from winning the toss and batting on a green-tinged SCG pitch.

Agarwal continued his impressive introduction to test cricket with another half century.

A similar comment was made by the Indian skipper Virat Kohli, when the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had hosted the captains of both the team. The crowd's reception didn't appear to faze Kohli has he punched a blistering cover drive for four off Hazlewood to get off the mark.

The landmark was his 18th century in his 68th Test and follows a stellar 123 in the first Test in Adelaide and 106 in the third Test at Melbourne.

The pitch saw its nature change after Day two.

Australian squad: Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Mitch Marsh (vc), Alex Carey (vc), Jhye Richardson, Billy Stanlake, Jason Behrendorff, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa. With India winning their first Boxing Day Test, Kohli equalled predecessor Sourav Ganguly to win the most number of Tests overseas and also became only the second Indian captain after Bishan Singh Bedi to win two Tests Down Under.

Those victories to Australia's one win in Perth means India need only to avoid defeat in the final Test here at Sydney Cricket Ground to secure their maiden Test series triumph Down Under.

  • Stacy Allen