Ravichandran Ashwin keeps Australia in check

Vastavam web: Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took 3 for 38 as Australia were restricted to 117 for 4 at tea on day two of the first Test against India here on Friday. At the break, Peter Handscomb was batting on 33 while Travis Head was unbeaten on 17 runs. Australia still trail by 133 runs, after India made 250 in their first innings. Post lunch, Ashwin bowled an incisive spell that tied down the Australian batsmen.

First up, Shaun Marsh (2) gifted his wicket immediately after resumption of lunch break. In the very first over, he went for a wild slash against Ashwin, but ended up playing on as Australia were reduced to 59/3. The big moment came in the 40th over, when Ashwin got Khawaja’s wicket. The left-hander had been tied down, but he was content eating up deliveries. He pushed forward against Ashwin, but gloved it to keeper Rishabh Pant. India appealed, and then opted for DRS review with hotspot showing a faint tickle on Khawaja’s glove as Australia were suddenly reduced to 87/4.

Head though joined Handscomb and defied the Indian bowlers, who did not allow any easy runs but also could not find another breakthrough before the tea break. Handscomb struck five boundaries, while Head hit a four as well, as the duo put on 30 runs for the fifth wicket, taking Australia past 100 in the 48th over. Mohammed Shami (6) showed no patience at all, and went after a short delivery from Josh Hazlewood (3/52) only to be caught behind down leg side, as India’s first innings came to a quick end.

Mitchell Starc (2/63), Pat Cummins (2/49) and Nathan Lyon (2/83) finished with two wickets each. Thereafter, Australia did not have the best of starts as Ishant Sharma (1/9) bowled Aaron Finch (0) with a fuller, inswinging delivery on only the third ball of their innings. It was a hectic start to the day’s play, but Khawaja and debutant opener Marcus Harris (26) settled down to provide a solid start for the hosts. Indian pacers bowled with fiery pace, with Jasprit Bumrah (0/24) even breaching the 150km/hr mark at one point. However, they bowled short of good length on most occasions and did not make the Australian batsmen play too many deliveries.

For their part, both Harris and Khawaja were content with leaving as many deliveries as possible, and struck only four boundaries between them. Ashwin (1/15) was introduced into the attack in the 12th over of the innings, and immediately hit up an interesting duel with Harris. The cover drive came out against the spinner, expectedly as a few more runs started flowing. Mostly they came off Bumrah, who erred in line and length. Even Mohammed Shami (0/1) bowled a tad short of length as the batsmen contended him with ease. Ashwin then struck before lunch. Harris played on to his pads and was caught at silly point in the 22nd over, as the spinner got dividends for blocking all scoring opportunities. Australia’s 50 came up in the 27th over thereafter.