Australia crawled their way to 191 for 7 after 88 overs as day Two of the first Test at Adelaide came to an end. They trail by 59 runs.
Earlier, India were all out for 250 in their first innings Friday on the second day of the opening Test against Australia in Adelaide without adding to their overnight 250-9.
Travis Head (61) and Mitchell Starc (8) were at the crease for the hosts and Australia will hope they can carry on for a while. For India, R Ashwin has been the star with the ball and has superb figures of 33-9-50-3. His spell allowed the pacemen to remain fresh and didn’t allow the Aussies to cut loose at any stage.
Australia lost Aaron Finch in the very first over of their innings. The opener tried to hit the big drive but got the inside edge back onto the stumps. It gave India a big boost early on but there after debutant Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja.
The Indian bowlers were perhaps guilty of being a bit too short. They didn’t get the batsmen driving enough and that might be a missed trick. But because the runs were kept to a minimum – Australia batted 27 overs for their 57 – India still have a chance to make amends.
Harris and Khawaja looked very comfortable in the middle before Ashwin got Harris’ wicket against the run of play. He got the ball to drift in the air and it did just enough to snare the left-hander, who made an impressive debut.
The conditions are not offering the same kind of assistance as they got in South Africa and England. So India’s bowlers will have to be prepared to do the hard grind in tough conditions. There was a worry when Mohammad Shami went off to have his right arm looked at but he came back onto the field soon after.
Run-scoring hasn’t been easy but Australia have played in a circumspect manner as well. It is a battle of attrition. At lunch, Australia reached 57 for 2.
When the game resumed on Day 2, tailender Mohammed Shami was out for six on the first delivery on Friday, caught behind by Tim Paine off Josh Hazlewood.
For Australia, Hazlewood finished with 3-52. Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon all took two wickets each.
An unusually circumspect Australia were kept on the edge by a wonderfully disciplined Indian attack. With the pitch showing increasing signs of wear and tear, both teams realise that the second innings will be anything but easy.
Hence, the need to make sure that Australia doesn’t get a big lead – rather they don’t get a lead at all. Ashwin led the attack from the front, bowling unchanged through the session from one end.
He flighted the ball well, got drift and purchase off the wicket too. At the moment, the turn is slow and the batsmen can counter it but the off-spinner has been tough to get away.
Still, he took both the wickets to fall in the session. Shaun March threw his wicket away when he chase a wide, looping delivery and only succeeded in dragging it back onto the stumps in the first over after lunch.
The wicket meant that Australia went into their shell even more as the run-rate continued to drop. Khawaja in particular was trying to do the job that Pujara did so successfully for India. He looked like he wanted to go for his shots but was held back by the match situation.
But a superb delivery from Ashwin snared him at a vital time for India. Peter Handscomb had settled in well and India were starting to fret a little. But the off-spinner got one to pitch in line and sharply turn away from the bat.
Khawaja was forced to play at it and seemed to glove it to the keeper. But the umpire was unmoved. The Indians went for the review right away and the hot spot showed that there was a little glove involved. Australia were suddenly 87-4 and there was a sense of panic.
But Handscomb and Travis Head batted well since then to take the hosts into tea with the total of 117-4.
Another session and another early wicket. Bumrah sent back Handscomb (34) early and then Ishant followed up with the wicket of Australian skipper Tim Paine (5) with a beauty to reduce Australia to 127-6.
Head was batting well but it looked like the hosts were in a tough spot on a difficult track. But then, with their backs to the wall, Australia fought back.
Head and Cummins stitched together a 50-run partnership that kept Australia in the hunt. They stayed circumspect but compared to the earlier session, they found a way to keep the scoreboard ticking. In many ways, that was the key.
India’s bowlers didn’t do anything particularly wrong. If anything, perhaps Shami was his usual first-innings self. Slightly unpredictable, he gave the batsmen scoring opportunities that just weren’t coming off the other bowlers. His economy rate was 3.19 and compared to Ishant (ER of 2.07), Bumrah (1.70) and Ashwin (1.52), it offered the batsmen a release.
The runs have come slowly but on Day 3, Head will remain the key. The rest of this Australia tail can bat and India will have to find a way to remove their anchor. As long as the regular batsman remains at the crease, the tail will look to stick around as well.
India’s attack has been superb this year but they have struggled to finish the innings and they will hope to do that this time round. Day three is going to be moving day.