At stumps, which was brought early owing to rain, Rahane was unbeaten on 104 along with Ravindra Jadeja on 40. The duo have stitched an unbroken 104-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Rahane completed an eighth Test century away from home and his first as skipper after benefitting from a dropped chance by Steve Smith in the first over after the second new ball was taken. Overall, it was batsman’s 12th Test hundred and his second at the MCG, after a fine 147 during the 2014 tour. Jadeja, who had effectively replaced Virat Kohli in the playing XI, looked quite solid at the crease after taking his time to settle in.
Earlier, Shubman Gill rode his luck on debut as Australia dropped a couple of chances in the morning session. Gill raced into the forties, but couldn’t convert his maiden Test innings to a half-century as Pat Cummins forced an outside edge to the wicket-keeper, dismissing the batsman on 45.
One brought another as Cheteshwar Pujara, who had settled down into his groove after having faced quite a few deliveries, nicked Cummins to Paine in the pacer’s next over.
The two wickets in quick succession pegged the visitors back, however Rahane and Hanuma Vihari batted solidly. They drove India to lunch with the team at 90/3, a position that they strengthened further after the break.
The half-century stand between the two gave India’s post-lunch session a good start. While Rahane was solid and composed, Vihari bid his time. Vihari fell to off-spinner Nathan Lyon while trying to sweep him from outside off-stump after he had added 52 runs for the fourth wicket with his captain.
After Vihari fell to Lyon, Rishabh Pant stepped in seamlessly to ease visitors worries. Pant raced into the 20s at run-a-ball with Rahane growing in confidence at the other end.
When Pant was caught behind off Mitchell Starc, giving him his 250th Test wicket and wicket-keeper Tim Paine his 150th dismissal, India had closed in on Australia’s first innings total.
While that stand didn’t quite translate into the partnership India were hoping for, Jadeja’s entry and the subsequent partnership between him and the skipper made it India’s day.
Brief Scores: Australia 195 vs India 277/5 (Ajinkya Rahane 104*, Ravindra Jadeja 40*; Mitchell Starc 2-60). (UNI)