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06 December 2023

Warner honours Hughes memory as Australia punish India

David Warner of Australia looks to the sky as he walks off the field after being dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin of India during day one of the fourth Test between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 6, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Getty)

By Agencies

David Warner kissed the ground in Phillip Hughes's memory to lead an Australian run spree with an emotional century on the opening day of the final Test against India on Tuesday.

The dynamic opener posted his third ton of the series and 12th in Tests as he honoured the memory of his fallen friend Hughes, who was fatally struck by a bouncer at the same Sydney Cricket Ground in November.

Upon reaching the symbolic score of 63 that Hughes had made when he was hit, Warner kissed the ground and then looked skywards before clapping in tribute.

Warner scored 101 and shared in an opening stand of 200 on a benign SCG pitch with veteran Chris Rogers, who again fell short of a ton in his fifth consecutive half-century of the series.

Skipper Steve Smith and Shane Watson maintained Australia's grip with an unbroken 144-run stand after winning the toss to put the home side at a formidable 348 for two at the close.

Smith, who glided to his half-century off 67 balls for his fifth innings beyond 50 in the series, was unbeaten on 82 with Watson on 61.

Watson was dropped by Ravichandran Ashwin at slip off the second-last ball of the day.

"We got lucky the coin fell our way. At the moment it was a fantastic toss to win, we're two for 348, fantastic position to be in," Warner said.

"There was no swing, there was no sideways movement at all, so it was quite challenging for the bowlers.

"It's going to be challenging for us to take 10 wickets as well."

India have already lost the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with Australia holding an unassailable 2-0 lead following wins in Adelaide and Brisbane.

The tourists have won only one of their last 22 Tests overseas and have been successful in only one of their 10 Tests at the Sydney Cricket Ground, that sole victory coming 37 years ago.

"It was a very tough day. It's very important that we pick ourselves up tonight and try to be as fresh as possible tomorrow," Ashwin said.

"It's going to be a hard day. If we can keep them down to (a reasonable score) we can get back into it."

Warner batted for 180 minutes with 16 fours, pulling Mohammed Shami to the boundary to bring up his ton off 108 balls with 16 fours.

He was out soon after for 101 off 114 balls, caught at slip off a leading edge from spinner Ashwin.

"It's great to get milestones and I've done my job for the team as well as I can," Warner said.

"The thing I'm most proud of is putting up a double-century partnership with Bucky (Rogers). It's our first one and we bat very well together."

Rogers, who gave chances on 19 and 90, followed Warner to the pavilion six balls later when he was bowled for 95 by Shami.

The Sydney Test was being played against the poignant backdrop of the tragic death of Hughes.

Warner posted his first Test century at the SCG and he, along with Smith, Watson, Brad Haddin and Nathan Lyon, were all on the field when Hughes was felled by the short-pitched ball.

A plaque honouring the batsman has been installed outside the home dressing room at the SCG and served as a reminder for the Australian players of their former team-mate.

India, with Virat Kohli leading the team after the sudden Test retirement of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, made four changes with Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha and Bhuvneshwar Kumar coming into the side.

The tourists left out opener Shikhar Dhawan with Lokesh Rahul promoted to open the innings, Sharma replacing Cheteshwar Pujara and Saha for Dhoni at wicketkeeper, while Kumar came in for paceman Ishant Sharma.

The Australians made only one change with Mitchell Starc replacing injured paceman Mitchell Johnson.


David Warner registered his 12th Test century before Chris Rogers fell agonisingly short of a hundred in an emotional start to the fourth and final Test between Australia and India on Tuesday.

Warner smashed 101 off just 114 balls while Rogers made a bittersweet 95 as the Australian pair put on an even 200 for the opening wicket at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Both were dismissed after lunch, leaving new captain Steve Smith (28 not out) and Shane Watson (10 not out) to guide the Australians to 242 for two at tea.

Although the hosts have already secured the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after wins in Adelaide and Brisbane, emotions were heightened for the final match because it is being played at the same ground where former team mate Phillip Hughes was fatally injured six weeks ago.

The death of the 25-year-old Hughes, who was struck by a short delivery in a first class match in late November, has hung over the entire series but has been brought to the fore at the SCG.

Cricket Australia unveiled a memorial plaque outside the home side's dressing room on Monday, while both teams paid tribute to the left-hander before the game began on Tuesday.

Regular captain Michael Clarke, who tore a hamstring in the first Test and is fighting to be fit for the upcoming World Cup, paid his own tribute to Hughes before the match.

"This is where he played his last game, this is where his spirit will live forever," Clarke told the Nine Network.

"The cheeky little bugger, he would be up there, smiling on us now wanting us to be happy enjoying life, getting on with it."

Rogers and Warner did exactly that after Smith, Clarke's replacement as skipper, won the toss and chose to bat on a flat pitch offering little assistance to the Indian bowlers.

They put on 123 in a blistering opening session with Warner pausing to kiss the pitch and signal to the sky when he reached 63, the score Hughes was on when he was hit by the ball.

Warner, who scored twin centuries in Adelaide, brought up his ton when he pulled Mohammed Shami to the deep square leg for his 16th boundary.

But he departed shortly after when he edged Ravichandran Ashwin to Murali Vijay at gully after he and Rogers had brought up their double-century partnership.

Rogers, who had made half-centuries in each of his last four test innings, once again missed out on triple figures when he got a thick edge from Mohammed Shami that crashed into his stumps.

India's new captain Virat Kohli, leading the side after the surprise retirement of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, made an immediate impression with wholesale changes.

Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, who played in the Adelaide Test when he replaced Dhoni, was recalled while Kohli also shook up the top order.

Opener Shikhar Dhawan and number three Cheteshwar Pujara were both dropped, with Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina expected to move up the order, while pace bowler Ishant Sharma was replaced by Bhuvneshwar Kumar.