Chasing their first-ever Test series win in Australia, India made an impressive start Monday by winning the first of four matches by 31 runs at the Adelaide Oval. On the fifth day, Australia stretched India all the way, but couldn’t get to the 323-run target, which would have been the first successful chase at the venue since 1902. In the end, Australia were bundled out for 291 in an extended post-lunch session to go 0-1 down in the series. This is the first time India have won an opening Test in Australia and is just the sixth Test they’ve ever won Down Under.
Rishabh Pant finished the Test with 11 catches the most ever taken by an Indian wicketkeeper in a Test. He went past MS Dhoni (9), and Wriddhiman Saha, who had taken 10 catches earlier this year against South Africa.
Resuming from 186/6 at lunch, Australia made a dreadful start to lose well-set skipper Tim Paine for 41 on just the seventh ball after the break. After a confident knock, Paine perished to a Jasprit Bumrah bouncer. The short delivery had Paine going for the pull, but he was hurried into the shot due to the pace, only to manage a top-edge. Pant ran across to his left and held on to the skier for Australia’s seventh.
Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins frustrated India with a 41-run stand for the eighth wicket. As Cummins held fort at one end, Starc played some confident strokes – going after balls that came outside the off stump. And it was one such delivery that proved to be his undoing. In the 101st over, with the required total dropping under 100 runs, the Aussie seamer went after Mohammed Shami only to get a touch on it, that carried to Pant.
The Australian tail then stitched together another stand – this time Cummins and Nathan Lyon – worth 31 runs before Bumrah struck to dismiss the former. Just as the duo looked threatening and started to give India some reason for concern, a Bumrah delivery got a thick edge from Cummins and went straight to Virat Kohli at first slip.
The job was completed in an extended post-lunch session, with tea just five minutes away, when R Ashwin’s patience was rewarded. Having bowled 52.4 overs – and going 33.4 overs without any success – Ashwin got the wicket of Josh Hazlewood. Just as Australia looked like they could be headed for an unlikely win, Ashwin looped up the ball in the air and Hazlewood went for the drive, but ended up edging it and KL Rahul held on to it at second slip.
In the opening session, starting from an overnight total of 104/4, the Travis Head-Shaun Marsh partnership lasted under eight overs before India forced a breakthrough with the old Kookaburra ball. Head (14) was the first to exit, with Ishant Sharma bowling a sharp bouncer that followed the left-hander and left him with no room. The ball looped up to Ajinkya Rahane stationed at gully, where he made no mistake.
Marsh took over the responsibility from then and scored his first half-century in the fourth innings of a Test. The half-century off 146 balls was also his tenth of his Test career. Marsh looked comfortable at the crease all morning, but was removed by Bumrah after the drinks’ break. The big moment came as the ball moved away just a tad and Marsh gave the slightest of edges to be caught behind by Pant in the 73rd over.
After Marsh’s exit, Cummins helped Paine, although he had a close call in the 74th over off R Ashwin. India wasted a DRS review when they thought he had edged it to the fielder at forward short leg. Four balls later, a loud appeal for caught at short leg was turned down by the third umpire, with Cummins reviewing it successfully this time.
The second Test begins on December 14 at the new stadium in Perth. It will be followed by the third Test on Boxing Day in Melbourne and the series will end with the fourth Test in Sydney starting January 3.
BRIEF SCORES: India: 250 and 307 beat Australia: 235 and 291 by 31 runs.