Opener David Warner continued to torment a hapless India by slamming a fluent century as Australia reached a resounding 348 for two on the opening day to take early control of the fourth and final cricket Test at Sydney. Electing to bat, the hosts rode on a 200-run opening stand between Warner (101), registering his third ton in the series, and Rogers (95) to once again expose a toothless Indian attack.
After a strong opening show, Shane Watson (61 batting) and captain Steven Smith (82 batting) ensured that Australia stay on the saddle by stitching a 144-run unbeaten third wicket partnership on what turned out to be a frustrating day for the Indians at the SCG.
Playing their first game at the SCG after the passing away of teammate Phillip Hughes six weeks back, an emotionally charged Australia reacted by scoring runs at a fast clip to demoralise the opposition attack. Rogers though got an early reprieve after Lokesh Rahul dropped the left-handed batsman at second slip off Mohammed Shami (1-58). The opener was on 19 and made full use of the 'life'.
Warner, who was one of the players to witness the freak accident on November 25 at this venue, was in control from the very start and slammed his 12th Test century after lunch. Rogers, who always played match-up with his aggresssive partner at the other end, also batted with assurance only to be denied his century. He scored his fifth fifty of the series.
India though struck back after the first session by sending back the openers in quick succession but Smith and Watson had other ideas. Smith notched up his 10th Test half-century while Watson recorded his 24th fifty in the longest format to deny India any more celebration in the day. Ravichandran Ashwin (1-88) got Warner back in the pavilion after inducing a leading edge to gully where Murali Vijay made no mistake. Shami finally got a wicket after Rogers followed his partner in the over after, inside edging a length ball on to his stumps.
From then on it was a case of leather hunt for the Virat Kohli-led side, which stayed on the field for 43 overs without a wicket. India though got another chance of getting a wicket but Ashwin let Watson's edge fly past him at first slip off Umesh Yadav (0-97) on the penultimate ball of the day.
Earlier, after lunch, it looked to be a long day in the field for the visiting side, who despite improving their bowling in the second session still conceded too many runs. Warner-Rogers continued scoring as the 150-run mark came up in the 34th over of the innings and two overs later. At 158/0, they had surpassed the highest opening stand of 157 runs they had previously put together against England at Perth in 2013.
In the 42nd over then, Warner brought up his hundred off 108 balls. It was an emotional celebration for the left-hander as he looked up at the skies and paid tribute to Hughes. Three overs later, he brought up the 200-mark for Australia and within only three hours of play. Ashwin then got the prized wicket of Warner and with an economy rate of 2.89, the spinner had looked the only bowler in some control against the rampaging partnership.
It became a double blow for Australia as in the very next over, Shami bowled Rogers, an inside edge robbing him of a deserved hundred.
Afterwards, Smith and Watson batted with solidity and avoided any further losses while part-time off-spinner Suresh Raina too turned his arm over. Making just one change to their playing XI after bringing in Mitchell Starc for the injured Mitchell Johnson, the hosts were unchanged in their dominating style of play.
India though made wholesale changes with Kohli opting for Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Wriddhiman in place of Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Kumar's inclusion though did not solve the bowling woes as Warner and Rogers put on 39 runs in the first 5 overs, the scoring rate zooming past seven-an-over.
It was only with Shami's introduction into the attack that the scoring rate came down. The Bengal medium-pacer was also unlucky after Rahul dropped a sitter at slip and Rogers, rubbed salt into Indian wounds with a boundary off the very next delivery, bringing up the 50-run mark came up in the 8th over.
Runs kept flowing from both ends as Kohli tried different fielding combinations. But his bowlers lacked control to exert any sort of pressure on the batsmen as he had to introduce Ashwin in the 14th over.
The first hour of play saw Australia score 72 runs in just 13 overs, with only the spinner showing any semblance of control.
Warner was the first to reach his half-century, his 14th in Test cricket, off only 45 balls.
When he reached 63 not out later in the 27th over, he took off his gloves and helmet, and kissed the ground where his teammate Hughes had collapsed after being hit by a bouncer here in a Sheffield Shield game.
Rogers meanwhile had brought up his 5th consecutive fifty of the series - and 10th overall -in the 28th over. He got to the mark off 91 balls, with the 100-run stand coming earlier in the 20th over as India looked hapless in their first session of play in the post Dhoni era