Adelaide: Travis Head rescued Australia with a half-century on the second day of the first Test after India’s disciplined bowling attack had threatened to take control on Friday.
In reply to India’s first innings of 250, Australia reached stumps at 191 for seven, with Head 61 not out and Mitchell Starc unbeaten on eight. Head shared a valuable 50-run seventh-wicket partnership with Pat Cummins.
Australia looked set for a sizeable first-innings deficit after losing Peter Handscomb (34) and captain Tim Paine shortly after tea, slumping to 127-6. Batting with Cummins, Head notched his second Test half-century.
India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claimed 3 for 50 from 33 overs, while quicks Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma picked up two wickets apiece.
The temperature in Adelaide neared 40C but cloud cover provided favourable conditions for India’s attack.
Ashwin carried a heavy workload and bowled unchanged from the middle of the first session through to tea. He also took the new ball but could not add to his tally of wickets.
“I think the wicket has slowed down considerably and I don’t expect it to quicken up,” Ashwin said. “We really bottled them up, soaked up the pressure and got the wickets. I feel the match is well poised and every run is going to be gold.”
India bowled with accuracy and stifled the scoring on the two-paced pitch. They snared the wickets of both Australian openers in the first session, including Aaron Finch for a third-ball duck.
The hard-hitting Finch drove loosely at a full delivery and inside-edged onto his stumps, which went cartwheeling.
Finch became just the fifth Australian batsman to be dismissed without scoring in their home test debut. Marcus Harris, making his test debut, fell just before lunch when he prodded a full Ashwin delivery to Murali Vijay at silly point. Harris made 26 runs from 57 balls.
Ashwin continued to menace Australia in the second session with bounce and spin, which accounted for the prized wicket of Usman Khawaja, who was caught behind off the glove. Khawaja, Australia’s most accomplished batsman, struggled to find his fluency and made a painstaking 28 off 125 balls.
Ashwin had earlier dismissed Shaun Marsh, who is under immense pressure having scored just 90 runs in his last 11 test innings.
Harris believed the teams were “evenly matched”. “It has been slow going but I think both teams have bowled well,” he said. “It was a tough day but we fought well and I think we are in a decent position.”
Paceman Mohammed Shami bowled untroubled after an earlier injury scare. He received treatment on his left shoulder just before lunch and briefly left the field.
Australia dismissed India on the first ball of the morning, with Shami edging a short Josh Hazlewood delivery to be caught behind.
Cheteshwar Pujara top-scored with 123 runs and No. 6 batsman Rohit Sharma was next best with 37 runs in its first innings. Hazlewood finished with 3 for 52 from 20 overs.
India 1st innings (overnight 250-9)
M. Shami c Paine b Hazlewood 6
J. Bumrah not out 0
Extras: (lb1) 1
Total: (all out, 88 overs) 250
Fall of wickets: 1-3 (Rahul), 2-15 (Vijay), 3-19 (Kohli), 4-41 (Rahane), 5-86 (Sharma), 6-127 (Pant), 7-189 (Ashwin), 8-210 (Sharma), 9-250 (Pujara), 10-250 (Shami)
Bowling: Starc 19-4-63-2, Hazlewood 20-3-52-3, Cummins 19-3-49-2, Lyon 28-2-83-2, Head 2-1-2-0
Australia 1st innings
A. Finch b Sharma 0
M. Harris c Vijay b Ashwin 26
U. Khawaja c Pant b Ashwin 28
S. Marsh b Ashwin 2
P. Handscomb c Pant b Bumrah 34
T. Head not out 61
T. Paine c Pant b Sharma 5
P. Cummins lbw b Bumrah 10
M. Starc not out 8
Extras: (lb9, b6, nb2) 17
Total: (7 wickets; 88 overs) 191
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Finch), 2-45 (Harris), 3-59 (Marsh), 4-87 (Khawaja), 5-120 (Handscomb), 6-127 (Paine), 7-177 (Cummins)
Bowling: Sharma 15-6-31-2, Bumrah 20-9-34-2, Shami 16-6-51-0, Ashwin 33-9-50-3, Vijay 4-1-10-0
Umpires: Nigel Llong (ENG), Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)
TV umpire: Chris Gaffaney (NZL)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI) APP/P:sup/L:hum/R:hum P:12:43/L:12:43/R:12:44 LOGNO: 78 12/7/2018 12:44:29 PM version: 0