Jharkhand: India struck twice in two overs just before lunch to keep a tight leash on Australia who reached 109 for three on the first day of the third cricket Test here on Thursday.
Starting off positively after opting to bat first, Australia cruised to 50 for no loss in 9.3 overs but with the introduction of spin bowlers at both the ends, the visitors lost three wickets for a little over 100 runs on the board. Ravindra Jadeja struck in his first over with David Warner (19) offering a simple return catch to the left-arm spinner.
Matt Renshaw (44) was going well and looked set to complete a hat-trick of half-centuries before falling six runs short with Umesh Yadav dismissing the opener in his second spell after a smart change of ends by Virat Kohli. India’s in-form off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin then dismissed Shaun Marsh (2) after India brilliantly used the DRS in their favour.
At lunch, skipper Steve Smith was batting on 34 and Peter Handscomb was giving him company at six. Aussie skipper Smith may have criticised the pitch yesterday, terming it mud rolled together, but all the three dismissals did not show any devil in the 22-yard strip. Australia started well and were happy to score in boundaries on a quick and small outfield. A flick off the pad from Renshaw raced to boundary for Australia’s first runs on the board in the first over of Ishant Sharma.
Renshaw’s first 24 runs came only in boundaries as once he cleared a fielder the ball raced past the rope. Warner took his time and hit his first boundary after 22 balls with an elegant cover drive off Yadav. With Warner looking to break free, Kohli employed spin attack at both ends and Jadeja was welcomed by the Aussie vice-captain with another crunching drive.
But in the next ball, a juicy full-toss, Warner offered Jadeja a return catch, even as his lean patch on the Indian tour continued. After Warner’s departure, India slowly pegged things back. Six shy of a half-century, Renshaw edged a simple catch to Kohli at the first slip in Yadav’s second over in his second spell.
Ashwin also struck from the other end as India made a fine review to reverse the umpire’s call and Marsh was on his way back to the dressing room. Cheteshwar Pujara took a diving catch at forward short leg after the ball took off from the bat and pad. Earlier India made one change, bringing back a fit-again Murali Vijay in place of Abhinav Mukund.
The Aussie made the two forced changes with Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins figuring in the playing XI in place of the injured Mitch Marsh and Mitchell Starc. The four-Test series is locked 1-1 with the last match in Dharmasala from March 25-29.