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IND v AUS, 1st Test Day 1 Review: Starc hits a late fifty but India in control

Umesh Yadav
Umesh Yadav. (Photo Source: BCCI)

After all the publicity and heckling, the series between India and Australia, it was the Aussies that took the initiative on the first day’s play. Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune was a wicket for the spinners and the Aussies started off well but things fell apart in the later half before Mitchell Starc’s late half century gave them runs they will take confidence from.

Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav and Ishant Sharma all bowled well but it was Umesh Yadav who was the pick of the bowlers. He was introduced the last in the bowling attack but took the most wickets, his 4-wicket haul made the difference and stumped the Australian batsmen who weren’t prepared enough to handle his express reverse swing.

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While David Warner was living dangerously and fell at the stroke of Lunch, Matt Renshaw was withdrawn from the field of play and was declared retired ill after scoring an impressive 36, perhaps something that came down due to the heat in Pune.

Australian openers extremely good to start in spite of some of the issues they faced with the ball turning and bouncing. Having won the toss and batting first, Warner got off to the start that he almost always does. Indian skipper Virat Kohli chose to play spin early on in the innings. Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin started the day.

Renshaw batting first time in India looked pretty assured, he was confident and got to the pitch of the ball while facing Ashwin. That ensured Warner at the other end was unfazed as well. The duo batted and toiled away for the best part of the first session adding an impressive 80 runs.

Warner went a bit too far across his stumps and missed a Jayant Yadav delivery on the leg-side and it crashed into the stumps but there was no joy for the Indians as the off-spinner took an additional step ahead of the bowling crease; Warner survived.

Virat eventually brought in Umesh to reverse swing the old ball and it paid off immediately when David Warner chopped the ball onto his stumps on a rising delivery from the pacer. The same time, it was Renshaw who also hobbled away from the scene of play after having retired ill.

At the close of the first session, the Aussies had both Shaun Marsh and Steve Smith at the middle in the infancy of their innings.

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Australia after showing a lot of solidity in the first session started the afternoon at 84/1. They had two new batsmen at the crease – Smith and Shaun Marsh were spot on at the start. Their tactic of using feet against the spinners looked to be working while the pitch had started to really turn and make life difficult for the batsmen. Shane Warne termed it an 8-day old Test wicket and it started to show character with the ball turning sharply as well as bouncing.

There was enough assistance for all the three Indian spinners. India having already exhausted one review went for another when Umesh hit Smith on the pads, it was running down the leg-side and now with 41 overs to play. Australia with their cautious effort added 23 runs while Virat persisted with his second off-spinner Jayant and planned a field for Shaun Marsh who was considered their best batsman against spin. Jayant bowled at Marsh on the middle and leg line with the skipper himself at leg-slip. He tried to sweep it but was late and edged the ball to give Kohli a straight forward catch.

Peter Handscomb now joined Smith and the duo added 30 runs together before Handscomb missed a straight one from Jadeja and it crashed into his pads, he contemplated reviewing it but with Jadeja’s angle and accuracy was certainly hitting the stumps and he walked back. Like it happens so often in India one wicket triggers another and Ashwin in his next over had Smith caught by his counterpart.

He came down the ground trying to hit the ball but found Virat at midwicket. In the same over Mitchell Marsh was given out caught behind, he reviewed and there was daylight between bat and ball and he stayed. Australia went to tea, uncertain of what the pitch has in store for them though sure about their game.

 

Matt Renshaw who had a stomach bug and retired ill walked back after the fall of Peter Handscomb on 36. He resumed playing like he was in the first session, using soft hands against the spinners and getting to the pitch of the ball before offering a shot. Mitch Marsh who had survived with a DRS call earlier was trapped by the smart Ravindra Jadeja. He turned first three balls of the over with the previous turning square and then bowled one with a round-arm action. It nipped back in after pitching and Marsh was plumb in front.

Renshaw got to his fifty and became the second youngest batsman after Phil Hughes to score a Test half century outside home. The first three slots in the list of top 5 are occupied by Hughes and he takes the fourth. Matthew Wade had walked out to partner him by then but couldn’t make a lot of difference. He went far outside the off-stump to tick Umesh down the on-side but the ball hit him straight in the pads and the umpire adjudged him out. Wade took a review but the umpire’s call prevailed.

That was Umesh’s second wicket utilizing reverse swing. Ashwin then finally managed to draw Renshaw forward and he poked at the ball with hard hands to hit it into Murali Vijay’s hands at second slip. He had batted so well right through the day and deserved the hundred but couldn’t continue with wickets falling at the other end.

Umesh in the 82nd over struck twice on consecutive balls first Steven O’Keefe edged one and Saha took a brilliant catch at slip, easily the best we have seen in the season. The ball was travelling but he dived to his right and managed to pull off a screamer. On the very next ball Nathan Lyon was hit on his pads in front of the wicket and though he reviewed the on-field call stayed. That was the 9th wicket and Australia had just 205 runs on the board.

But in a session that was dominated by the Indian bowlers Mitchell Starc walked out with intentions to disrupt the balance of the match. He played some aggressive shots and took on the Indian spinners Ashwin and Jadeja. Starc slogged against the pacers as well and hit 5 boundaries and 3 sixes. The last wicket partnership in which the other half Josh Hazlewood had just 1 run to contribute took them home at the end of the day and Australia will be happy to be 256/9 on this wicket.

Brief Scores: 256/9 (Matt Renshaw 63, Mitchell Starc 57*; Umesh Yadav 4/32)

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