Ajinkya Rahane and James Pattinson dominated day one of a three day tour match between the Indians and Australia A, with the former bailing his side out from a potential batting embarrassment.
Rahane, who will replace Virat Kohli as captain after the Adelaide Test, looked in sublime touch at Drummoyne Oval, not out on 108 as the Indians went to stumps at 8-237.
India’s promising openers, Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill, both fell for ducks after Rahane won the toss and elected to bat first.
But, as he has done so often, No 3 Cheteshwar Pujara steadied the innings with 54 off 140 balls and formed a 76 run partnership with Rahane.
Pattinson, fighting to crack Australia’s XI for the first Test in Adelaide, was the pick of the bowlers with 3-58 from 19 overs.
Australia A captain Travis Head (2-24) and Michael Neser (2-51) were also among the wickets while emerging all-rounder Cameron Green (0-9) impressed with his pace and bounce in eight overs.
“Cameron Green was on restrictions but I saw enough to see he’s going to be something special,” said Brad Haddin in commentary for Fox Cricket.
Head said he was impressed by how late Rahane and Pujara played and was relieved to dismiss the latter with a leg slip trap.
“It ebbed and flowed, they made us work for it,” Head said.
“But the way we started and with the second newy (ball)… it was a good all-round day.
“We worked him (Pujara) over for a while there and he played pretty well.
“But nice to see the back of him and not let him bat for too long.
“It’s nice when they come off.
“(Pattinson) bowled beautifully, his energy, a great length and was able to make some crucial breakthroughs.”
Rahane has the daunting task of replacing Kohli when the skipper returns to India for the birth of his first child.
Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh spoke recently about the differences between the two men.
“He’s very calm and composed, not so expressive,” Singh said of Rahane.
“He’s very different to Virat Kohli.
“I would like to remind Rahane that he doesn’t need to change his game or personality.
“Looking at a personality like Virat, Rahane might think that he has to adopt some of it to beat Australia.
“But I don’t think that’s necessary.
“All Rahane needs to do is be himself and make sure he gets the best out of his team.
“Virat has an unbelievable record in Australia, something every batsman aspires.
“So definitely India is going to miss Kohli in the batting unit.
“Then his experience as captain.
“His aggression, leading from the front, that is Virat Kohli.
“He always puts his best foot forward.
“His body language, his intent… India is going to miss him.”