Cheteshwar Pujara smashed an unbeaten knock of 130 runs and Hanuma Vihari contributed with attacking 39 (not out) to guide India to 303/4 at stumps on the first day of the fourth and final Test in Sydney. Earlier, opener Mayank Agarwal gave India a flying start in Sydney with a fearless 112-ball 77. After opting to bat, India suffered a blow in the second over when KL Rahul, who came into the side in place of Rohit Sharma, lost his wicket for nine runs to Josh Hazlewood. However, the visitors came stronger after the dismissal of Rahul as Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal established a highest 116-run partnership stand to build a strong foundation for India. Spinner Nathan Lyon dismissed Agarwal in the 33rd over but he had already made an impact. Following his departure, Pujara shared a 54-run stand with captain Virat Kohli (23) and a 48-run stand with vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (18). At the end of the day, Pujara was seen solid with Vihari, having an unbeaten 75-run stand, to keep India in a commanding position in Sydney. For Australia, Josh Hazlewood claimed two wickets, while Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon took a wicket each. Leading 2-1 in the four-match series, India will be looking to make it 3-1 at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). India have played 10 Test series Down Under since 1947-48, and barring three series - 1980-81, 1985-86 and 2003-04 which were drawn - the visitors have lost on seven occasions. Virat Kohli thus is in a unique position as the only Indian captain to go into the final Test on Australian soil with the cushion of a lead. (SCORECARD)
Highlights between India vs Australia, 4th Test, Day 1, from Sydney Cricket Ground.
12:30 IST: Stumps! Cheteshwar Pujara (130*) and Hanuma Vihari (39*) guide India to 303/4 at stumps on Day 1. The fifth-wicket pair shared an unbeaten 75-run stand between them as India concluded the opening day on top in Sydney.
12:27 IST: Pat Cummins bowls a maiden over ahead of the day's last over. Can Australia restrict India to 300 on Day 1?
12:23 IST: 1 run! 300 up for India. This is for the first time in the four-Test series that India scored 300 on the first day of a Test match in Australia. Hanuma Vihari takes a single and will keep the strike.
12:21 IST: Spinner Nathan Lyon comes back into the attack.
12:20 IST: End of the over! Six runs from it. India are 298/4 in 87 overs.
12:17 IST: FOUR! Hanuma Vihari welcomes Pat Cummins with a cover drive to get a boundary.
12:16 IST: Pat Cummins replaces Josh Hazlewood. Four overs are remaining in the day's play.
12:12 IST: FOUR! Look how faster his hands move. Hanuma Vihari gets into thirties. India are 291/4 in 85.1 overs.
12:07 IST: FOUR! That has been thrashed by Hanuma Vihari. Easy runs for India. Nothing is more delightful than to watch Vihari playing such imposing shots on his back foot.
12:05 IST: Cheteshwar Pujara sufferes another blow. This time on his left arm. The Indian physio is out to check whether he's fine.
12:01 IST: We are into the extra time on the first day of the fourth Test. Seven more overs are remaining in the day's play.
11:58 IST: FOUR! Another impressive shot from the willow of Hanuma Vihari. India reach 280/4 in 82.2 overs.
11:56 IST: Out of 18 runs, Hanuma Vihari has scored 11 with the help of cover drives. The 25-year-old, who played as an opener in the Melbourne Test, knows well how to score that shot.
11:54 IST: 3 runs! Gorgeous stroke through the covers. Hanuma Vihari takes quick runs with ease.
11:52 IST: Mitchell Starc to share the second new ball.
11:50 IST: FOUR! Tucked away behind square on the leg side for a boundary. Cheteshwar Pujara gets to 122, takes India to 271/4 in 80.5 overs.
11:47 IST: The second new ball has been taken. Josh Hazlewood starts with the new cherry.
11:45 IST: Former Australia captain Michael Clarke believes Cheteshwar Pujara has his eyes on a double century in Sydney.
Stand and applaud @cheteshwar1 another brilliant innings and he does not look satisfied wants 200— Michael Clarke (@MClarke23) January 3, 2019
11:38 IST: The new ball will be available after three more overs. The Indian batsmen will look to score maximum against spinners ahead of that.
11:36 IST: FOUR! Cheteshwar Pujara gets a low full toss and smashes it across the boundary rope at mid-on.
11:34 IST: FOUR! Cheteshwar Pujara hits it hard down the ground for a boundary. That brings up 250 for India in 75.1 overs.
11:30 IST: Marnus Labuschagne is back into the attack. He had conceded 12 runs in the first over.
11:25 IST: HUNDRED! Cheteshwar Pujara scores his 18th Test century off 199 balls, third in the Test series. He has been in magnificent form throughout the series.
11:21 IST: Cheteshwar Pujara takes a single to keep the strike. India are 233/4 in 72.5 overs.
11:18 IST: FOUR! Vihari gets off to the mark with a boundary.
11:15 IST: Hanuma Vihari comes to bat at number six.
11:12 IST: WICKET! An absolute ripper by Mitchell Starc. He bowls a bouncer to take a top-edge off Ajinkya Rahane's bat and wicket-keeper Tim Paine makes no mistake. Rahane departs for 18. India are 228/4 in 70.2 overs.
11:10 IST: It will be the third Test century on this tour by Cheteswar Pujara. He earlier scored hundreds in Adelaide and Melbourne.
11:07 IST: End of an expensive over by Mitchell Starc. 11 runs from it. India are 224/3 in 69 overs. Cheteshwar Pujra is on 93, eyeing his 18th Test century.
11:04 IST: And Cheteshwar Pujara welcomes the left-armer with back-to-back boundaries. He reaches to 92 and takes India to 221/3.
11:03 IST: Mitchell Starc replaces Pat Cummins.
11:01 IST: Out of 84 runs, Cheteshwar Pujara has scored 32 with the help of flicks.
10:55 IST: No run from the over. Nathan Lyon is keeping it tight, though fails to entice Ajinkya Rahane to play an aerial shot.
10:48 IST: Pat Cummins is facing difficulties with his shoes. A delay as he changes the shoes. There are 25 overs remaining in the day after this one.
10:46 IST: FOUR! Cheteshwar Pujara gets another boundary off Nathan Lyon's delivery. Another brilliant shot aimed at mid-wicket. He is picking the right balls to hit hard for quick runs.
10:44 IST: FOUR! Cheteshwar Pujara places it perfectly to deep mid-wicket for a boundary.
10:40 IST: 2 runs! 200 up for India. Good running between the wickets. Ajinkya Rahane pushes it harder into the gap wide of cover to get a double.
10:36 IST: 2 runs! Cheteshwar Pujara takes a double, to put some runs on the board after 22 dot balls. With this, Pujara crosses 400-run mark in the ongoing Test series. He's on the top of leading run-scorers' chart while Virat Kohli chases him from the second spot with 282 runs.
10:32 IST: Another maiden over. Third in a row. Australia are trying to take control in the final session. There are 30 more overs remaining in the day's play.
10:24 IST: Nathan Lyon bowls a maiden over. India are 195/3 in 58 overs.
10:20 IST: FOUR! Ajinkya Rahane plays a refreshing shot. He's taking his chances to keep India on a move.
10:09 IST: FOUR! Cheteshwar Pujara continues to pile up pressure after Virat Kohli's dismissal.
10.07 IST: Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane comes to the crease.
10:05 IST: WICKET! Tim Paine takes a stunner to dismiss Virat Kohli. The Indian captain, in all pink, departs for 23 runs. And that brings an end to the 54-run partnership. Josh Hazlewood claims his second wicket.
10:00 IST: End of the tea-break! Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli are out in the middle to resume Indian innings. Josh Hazlewood to attack in the first over of the final session on Day 1.
09:41 IST: TEA! Cheteshwar Pujara (61*) and Virat Kohli (23*) guide India to 177/2 at Tea. The second session was highly dominated by India as they scored 108 runs with a loss of one wicket. Nathan Lyon was the one who trapped big fish Mayank Agarwal (77) in the second session.
09:40 IST: FOUR! Virat Kohli impresses with a perfect cover drive, gets a boundary and completes a 50-run stand with Cheteshwar Pujara.
09:38 IST: Cheteshwar Pujara follows it up with another powerful shot at boundary. This time at long-on. India are 173/2 in 51 overs.
09:36 IST: FIFTY! FOUR! Cheteshwar Pujara scores his 21st Test century off 134 balls. Pujara gets too his fourth fifty-plus score in the series with a boundary.
09:35 IST: Marnus Labuschagne comes into the attack.
09:32 IST: 2 runs! Delicate Pujara shots. Could have gone across the boundary rope. Now two runs away from his 21st half-century.
09:25 IST: FOUR! Cheteshwar Pujara continues to delight with form Down Under. He pulls it through the square leg to get a boundary and takes India past 150 in 47.5 overs.
09:19 IST: FOUR! Virat Kohli guides the ball to fine leg for a boundary, takes India to 148/2 in 46.1 overs. The skipper wanted to pull but managed to make it slide past the Australian wicket-keeper.
09:16 IST: Just two runs from the over. India are 142/2 after 45 overs.
09:12 IST: Captain Virat Kohli already has 259 runs to his name from the series so far. However, he was dismissed for zero in his last innings in Melbourne.
09:08 IST: Pat Cummins starts with a maiden over. Virat Kohli too looks calm today.
09:04 IST: Pat Cummins replaces Josh Hazlewood.
08:56 IST: Just one run from the over by Nathan Lyon. India are 139/2 in 40 overs.
08:52 IST: Josh Hazlewood bowls another maiden over.
08:46 IST: FOUR! Cheteshwar Pujara hits a boundary to conclude the 38th over. India are 138/2 with Pujara and Virat Kohli in charge.
08:33 IST: Virat Kohli gets off to the mark with a beautiful cover drive. India are 130/2 in 34.4 overs. The Indian skipper displays sheer elegance with this shot.
08:31 IST: Captain Virat Kohli comes to the crease.
08:29 IST: WICKET! Nathan Lyon finally traps the big fish. Mayank Agarwal departs for 77 after failing to score a consecutive six with a similar shot. That brings an end to the 116-run partnership between the second-wicket pair.
08:27 IST: SIX! This time an even bigger from Mayank Agarwal. The 27-year-old has his eyes on his maiden ton in the second Test.
08:26 IST: A loud shout of LBW appeal against Cheteshwar Pujara falls on deaf ears.
08:23 IST: FOUR! Cheteshwar Pujara smashes it for four, gets into thirties. India are 118/1 in 32.3 overs.
08:18 IST: SIX! Mayank Agarwal welcomes spinner Nathan Lyon with a commanding six. And it brings up 100-run partnership for the second-wicket.
08:13 IST: FOUR! 100 up for India in 30.1 overs. Cheteshwar Pujara gets some quick runs with an impressive pull shot. Cummins errs in line and Pujara makes the most out of it.
08:08 IST: FIFTY! Mayank Agarwal scores his second Test half-century. Second consecutive in Tests. India are 92/1 in 29.2 overs. The 27-year-old Karnataka batsman has been very impressive on his debut series. He had scored 76 and 42 runs in successive innings of the Melbourne Test.
08:06 IST: Three runs from the over. Mayank Agarwal will be on strike, eyeing his second Test half-century.
08:02 IST: Out of 46 runs, Mayank Agarwal has scored 21 runs with the help of cover drive so far. There's nothing more delightful than watching Agarwal play a cover drive.
07:58 IST: End of the over! It was an expensive one. Pat Cummins concedes eight runs. India reach 83 with a loss of one wicket after 27 overs.
07:51 IST: 3 runs! Good runs between the wickets. Cheteshwar Pujara plays it late and pushes it to deep backward point to take quick runs. India are 75/1 in 25.5 overs.
07:42 IST: Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara are at the crease to resume Indian innings. Pat Cummins to bowl the first over post-lunch.
07:04 IST: That's lunch on Day 1. Mayank Agarwal (42*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (16*) have stabilized Indian innings after an early wicket of KL Rahul. India are 69/1 in 24 overs. For Australia, Josh Hazlewood (1/17) was the only successful bowler in the morning session.
06:54 IST: Nathan Lyon has not been much successful at the SCG as he averages 48.14 here. Can he improve his record in this Test match?
06:51 IST: Nathan Lyon comes into the attack.
06:48 IST: 313 is the average first innings total at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Going by the stat, there's nothing much to worry about for the number one-ranked Indian Test team.
06:41 IST: 3 runs! 50-run stand comes up between Mayank Agarwal (37*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (13*) for the second wicket. India are 61/1 in 18.5 overs.
06:38 IST: FOUR! Thick edge and goes down to the third man region. Mayank Agarwal gets a streaky boundary, takes India to 58/1 in 18.2 overs.
06:36 IST: Mayank Agarwal takes a quick single to keep the strike. The young man seems under pressure with Australian pacers at their aggressive best and captain Tim Pain constantly changing the field setting.
06:32 IST: Josh Hazlewood, who dismissed KL Rahul in the second over, starts with a maiden over. India are 53/1 in 17 overs.
06:28 IST: Josh Hazlewood is back into the attack.
06:27 IST: Just two runs from the over. Mayank Agarwal (29*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (13*) keep India moving amid tough bowling attack.
06:22 IST: Review of judgement! So far in the series, Australia have been successful on only one occasion out of 10, while India have judged the DRS right five times out of 10 occasions.
06:19 IST: Australia lose their review. India's Test speciallist Cheteshwar Pujara was the man in question and he comes out safe. India are 51/1 in 14.2 overs.
06:15 IST: Apparently, it has been a nasty blow on the hamlet. Team India physio is out to check whether Mayank Agarwal is fine.
06:12 IST: In the air... but he's safe. Mayank Agarwal is lucky there, gets a streaky boundary to take India past 50. Mitchell Starc's brilliant bouncer gets a top-edge but the ball pops out over the slip region.
06:03 IST: Drink-break. It has been a successful firrst hour of cricket for Australia as they got Indian opener KL Rahul (9) early. However, Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara stabilized India with concrete stand.
05:58 IST: FOUR! Glorious shot! It wasn't a bad delivery from fro Mitchell Starc. But Mayank Agarwal is a bit too brilliant with a backfoot cover drive. India are 45/1 in 11.2 overs.
05:54 IST: FOUR! Powerful punch. It came out of the full face of the bat. Mayank Agarwal impresses one and all with a well-timed shot to get a boundary.
05:52 IST: Mayank Aggarwal takes a quick single, keeps the strike. Mitchell Starc concedes just one run. India reach 36/1 after 10 overs in Sydney.
05:41 IST: Pat Cummins was the lone warrior for Australia in Melbourne Test as he claimed nine wickets, including a career-best spell of 6/27, and scored 80 runs in two innings.
05:36 IST: FOUR! Confident and a wonderfully driven boundary to conclude the over. India are 30/1 after six overs. Mayank Agarwal has settled quite early as it's just his second Test.
05:32 IST: Pat Cummins comes into the attack.
05:26 IST: End of first five overs. India have lost their opener for nine runs. Josh Hazlewood has struck early for the home team.
05:22 IST: The players are wearing a black arm band; Australians in memory of former batsman Bill Watson and India in respect of Sachin Tendulkar's coach Ramakant Achrekar.
05:15 IST: End of the over! India are 12/1 in three overs. Virat Kohli, the Indian captain who is chasing history in Australia, opted to bat after winning the toss in Sydney.
05:13 IST: 2 runs! Mayank Agarwal, who scored 76 runs in debut innings in third Test, is off to the mark with a down the ground shot.
05:10 IST: Cheteshwar Pujara comes to the crease.
05:08 IST: WICKET! Josh Hazlewood removes KL Rahul for 9. This is for the fourth time. Rahul, who made a comeback to the playing eleven, could have left this delivery. Rahul was dropped for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne after he managed scores of 2, 44, 2 and 0 in successive innings of the first two Tests.
05:00 IST: Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul to open the innings for India. MItchell Starc to bowl with the new cherry.
04:50 IST: "We would have batted first too. There's a bit of grass coverage, hopefully we bring slips and keeper into play. We need to improve in all areas from Melbourne. We need to focus on doing the basics right. If we stay in the moment and put India under pressure, then we can be in the game," Tim Paine at toss.
04:40 IST: "We are gonna have a bit first. Looks like a pretty good wicket, good covering of grass on it. The spinners will come into play; an ddeal day to bat. We haven't discussed that to be honest. It's another Test match for our country, something we are very proud about. We have to play good, hard-fought cricket for the next five days," Virat Kohli says after winning the toss.
04:38 IST: Australia Playing XI: Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Tim Paine (w/c), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
04:34 IST: India Playing XI: Lokesh Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (w), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah
04:30 IST: TOSS! India win toss, opt to bat first in the Sydney Test. For India, KL Rahul comes in place of Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav to replace Ishant Sharma. Australia decide to play Marnus Labuschagne and Peter Handscomb in the final contest.
04:25 IST: We are now a few minutes away from toss.
04:20 IST: Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the fourth and final Test of the 2018 Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia in Sydney.
A series win in Australia will certainly put Kohli on a different pedestal even though the quality of home team's batting line-up suffered adversely due to the bans of former skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner. However, Kohli will need to fret over his team combination as the skipper revealed that senior off-spinner Ashwin hasn't adequately recovered from his injury despite being named in the preliminary 13-member squad. With spin considered a traditional factor in any Sydney Test, India have serious concerns over Ashwin's fitness, as he is yet to recover from left abdominal strain that laid him low after the first Test in Adelaide. Ishant Sharma is out after experiencing discomfort in his left rib cage and the team management didn't want to risk him by playing him in the decider. While Ashwin had played on in Nottingham and Southampton (despite a groin injury as revealed by the team management only at the Oval), he has already missed two Tests - in Perth and Melbourne - in the on-going series.
"It's unfortunate that he's had two niggles that are quite similar in the last two away tours," said skipper Kohli. "He's very important for sure. In Test cricket, he's a vital part of this team and we wanted him to be 100 percent fit for a longer period to that he can come back to us in the Test format. He is very disappointed that he's not able to recover in time," Kohli elaborated. In a strange U-turn, after he was ruled out at the time of Kohli's pre-match press conference, Ashwin has been named in the 13-man shortlist for this fourth Test. A final decision on his fitness and availability for the match will be taken at toss-time. Additionally, India have included left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav as cover, in case the skipper decides to go in with two spinners. Surprisingly, Umesh Yadav has been included in the shortlist ahead of Ishant Sharma, along with Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. At the time of writing, an official word on Ishant Sharma's fitness - or any injury concerns - is yet to come forth. Meanwhile, in Rohit Sharma's absence, out-of-favour opener KL Rahul could be slated for a comeback after missing out in Melbourne, with Hanuma Vihari slotting down to his number six spot.