Warner’s sparkling 145 from 163 balls got the hosts off to a flying start at a sun-drenched Adelaide Oval, and though India captured a flurry of late wickets, Steven Smith added an unbeaten 72 after tea to push Australia to 354-6 at stumps.
A day that began solemnly with a slew of tributes to Hughes ended with grave concerns over the fitness of Clarke, who retired hurt on 60 with a lower back injury.
Having raced to be fit for the match after suffering a third hamstring strain in three months, Clarke’s new injury will raise questions over his management, and whether sentimentality trumped sense in his selection for the match.
Batsman Virat Kohli, who replaced the injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni as India captain, endured a tough debut in charge of the test team, losing the all-important toss and watching his bowlers toil for much of the day on a flat wicket.
Warner’s dismissal, caught in the deep after slogging debutant legspinner Karn Sharma, saw Smith and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh add another 87 runs before the latter was caught in the slips off the bowling of paceman Varun Aaron.
Nightwatchman Nathan Lyon was bowled for three by Mohammed Shami before wicketkeeper Brad Haddin was caught behind for a duck, nicking at the paceman, bringing the day to a close.
Warner’s day was memorable as he took to the Indian pacemen with gusto, clubbing a four off the first ball and crunching another 18 for the day.
The pugnacious 28-year-old was fielding when Hughes was struck down by a short ball in a domestic match that ultimately cost his life and he paid tribute to his former team mate on several milestones during the innings.
He raised his bat and head to the sky after reaching 50 and 63 runs, Hughes’ final score for South Australia, and did so again after leaping for joy upon bringing up his century with a single.
Clarke had moved serenely to 60 in tandem with Warner before he twisted to avoid a short ball from Ishant Sharma and immediately lay down to stretch.
Minutes later he was trudging off with medical staff, casting a pall over the crowd of more than 25,000.
The opening match of the four-test series was originally scheduled in Brisbane but was delayed and switched to Adelaide to give players time to mourn batsman Hughes.
On a day of tributes to Hughes, the number 408 was painted on the turf in front of the Sir Donald Bradman Pavilion, recognising the batsman as the 408th player to represent Australia in a test match.
Both teams wore black armbands and Hughes was named an honorary “13th man” in Australia’s squad.
Following a video tribute narrated by iconic Australian commentator Richie Benaud, the crowd stood and applauded for 63 seconds in recognition of Hughes’s final innings.
Hughes’s death prompted a debate about the use of the bouncer, but paceman Aaron bowled the first in the fourth over, a sizzling 145 kph delivery that drew applause from the crowd and that Warner did well to avoid. (Reuters)