Sport Will Pucovski debut sparks Australia’s batsmen in third Test at SCG
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Will Pucovski debut sparks Australia’s batsmen in third Test at SCG

Will Pucovski shines on debut, his 62 helping Australia to 2-166 at stumps. Photo: AAP
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Will Pucovski brushed aside concerns over the short ball as he used his Test debut to reignite Australia’s batting on a rainy day at the SCG against India.

Pucovski hit a classy 62 in his long-awaited Test berth, riding his luck with three chances to help Australia to 2-166 at stumps on day one of the crucial third Test on Thursday.

In Australia’s best day of the summer with the bat so far, Marnus Labuschagne also struck an unbeaten 67 while Steve Smith bounced back to life with 31 not out.

Labuschagne was measured in his 210 minutes at the crease, while Smith made a point to be positive early with three boundaries in his first 13 balls.

But it was all eyes on young prodigy Pucovski with the series in the balance at 1-1.

The opener, who just last month suffered his ninth concussion, held sway against a clear plan to target him with bouncers.

He top-edged one hook shot for four and was dropped off another from Mohammed Siraj, but still looked comfortable taking others on given his history.

“I’ve been bounced non stop in all cricket I’ve played really, just with my history of concussion,” Pucovski said.

“It’s part of it, to be honest. I knew India would come at me pretty hard with it.

“I felt like I handled it well at times and probably went out of my bubble at other times.

“But a lot of that comes down to the excitement of your first game.”

Pucovski’s path to Test cricket has been harder than most, after twice withdrawing from squads for personal reasons.

There were also fears when he was felled last month it could stop him in his prime, seeing “millions of doctors” before being cleared for return.

“When you get the information from doctors that things are actually going OK and there’s nothing too much to worry about long term at this stage it makes it a lot easier for you,” he said.

“You can relax a little bit and go, just got to keep going through the process of coming back from these head knocks.

“Just keep working through different rehab exercises and stuff and over time obviously just make sure your head keeps getting better.

“It’s one of those things with your head you don’t want to risk it because you’ve got a long life after cricket.

“I sought some different opinions on what was going on and I was pretty satisfied I’m in a pretty good place to continue.

“Even if I get hit again it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

He drove nicely down the ground and worked the ball expertly through the legside after he came into the team at Travis Head’s expense.

The 22-year-old also played off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin with relative ease, hitting him through the offside.

Crucially, he combined in an even 100-run stand with Labuschagne, marking Australia’s first century partnership of the Test summer.

Pucovski eventually fell on 62 lbw for Navdeep Saini’s first Test wicket, but by then he’d lit up a day where 35 overs were lost to light rain.

His opening partner David Warner experienced no such joy, edging Siraj (1-46) to first slip on five when he drove hard at one outside off stump.

Of bigger concern to Australia, however, could be Warner’s problematic groin, as he still appeared uncomfortable despite a five-week layoff.

India’s joy at dismissing David Warner early was followed by a tough day of Test cricket at the SCG on Thursday. Photo: AAP

-AAP