R Ashwin (right) was the pick of the Indian bowlers on Day 2 of first Test against Australia in Adelaide. (Source: Reuters)
If India were guilty of making errors in their shot making on the opening day of the first Test against Australia, their counterparts did the same on the second day at Adelaide. To their credit, much like the Australian bowlers, the Indian bowlers erred rarely and whenever they did, corrected course almost immediately. R Ashwin picked three wickets and seamers were jittery at times but were quick to regain rhythm. The bowlers also ensured runs were contained to add further pressure on the Australian batting. At close, they were 191/7 from 88 overs – a day prior, India had played the same number of balls for 59 runs more – to trail by 59 runs. Among the carnage of half-capitalised innings stood Travis Head, playing his third Test and first in Australia, with an unbeaten 61.
In a sedately-paced battle of attrition on the second day, under strong cloud cover, Ashwin cleaned up the Australian top-order and a meticulous pace effort kept the home team’s scoring in check. Ashwin was pick of the lot with well controlled line and length, seamers were wayward but bounced back with Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma taking two wickets each.
In the final session of play, Australia lost two wickets for 10 runs in eight overs. Peter Handscomb fell first paying for living dangerously. He tried to play the late cut against Bumrah but only got an edge behind for a comfortable take for Rishabh Pant. Shortly after, Ishant came up with an unplayable length delivery and skipper Tim Paine (5) had no choice but to play at it, only to edge it Pant.
With Australia struggling at 127/6, they turned things their way thanks to a strong partnership between Head and Pat Cummins. Like Cheteshwar Pujara on day 1, with wickets falling quickly, Head went into attack mode and pushed for runs at faster pace than before. It resulted in him reaching his 50 from 103 balls. This passage of play allowed Australia to look comfortable as Virat Kohli used Murali Vijay to turn an arm over before the new ball became due.
As soon as Australia’s innings reached 80 overs, Kohli took the new red cherry and handed over the responsibility to Bumrah and he didn’t disappoint. Having already played decent number of balls, Cummins was given leg before for the seventh wicket to fall. Thereafter, India couldn’t make an impact with Head and Mitchell Starc playing patiently.
Ashwin gave Australia little breathing room striking before the lunch break and soon after as well. In an interesting duel between the off spinner and debutant Marcus Harris, the latter almost handed a catch to Murali Vijay at silly point. However, the ball landed just short. That luck was gone soon after. Introduced in the 12th over of Australia’s innings, local boy Harris played on to his pads and was caught at silly point in the 22nd over. After lunch, Shaun Marsh gifted his wicket away immediately. In the very first over, he went for a wild slash but ended up playing on as Australia were reduced to 59/3. Ashwin got his third soon after with Usman Khawaja’s wicket. The left-hander pushed one forward against Ashwin and gloved it to Pant. India appealed, and then opted for a review with hotspot showing a faint tickle on Khawaja’s glove which was confirmed by Snicko to reduce Australia to 87/4.
Ishant got the ball rolling for India in the first over of the Australia innings to first get a little shout for leg before on opener Aaron Finch. With suggestions of ball missing stumps, Ishant persisted and was rewarded for sticking to his plan. On just the third ball of the inning, a fuller, inswinging delivery from Ishant took Finch’s inside edge to clatter on to the stumps.
In the morning, India were bowled out for 250 with Shami getting dismissed on the very first ball of the day and adding none to their overnight total. Shami went after a short delivery from Josh Hazlewood (3/52) only to glove it down leg side, as India’s innings came to a quick end. Starc (2/63), Pat Cummins (2/49) and Nathan Lyon (2/83) finished with a brace each.