If the Indian batsmen were guilty of making errors in their shot selection on the opening day of the first Test against Australia, their counterparts did the same on the second day at Adelaide. To their credit, much like the Australian bowlers, the Indians rarely erred and whenever they did, corrected course almost immediately. R Ashwin picked three wickets and the seamers were jittery at times, but were quick to regain their rhythm. The bowlers also ensured runs were contained, putting further pressure on the Australian batting. At close of play, Australia was at 191/7 from 88 overs. A day earlier, India had played the same number of balls and scored 59 runs more. At the end of day’s play, after a series of innings that were half-capitalised on, stood Travis Head—playing his third Test and first in Australia—with an unbeaten 61.
In a sedately-paced battle of attrition on the second day, Ashwin cleaned up the Australian top-order and a meticulous pace effort kept the home team’s scoring in check. Ashwin was pick of the bowlers with well-controlled line and length. The seamers were relatively more wayward, but Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma took two wickets each.
In the final session of play, Australia lost two wickets for 10 runs in eight overs. Peter Handscomb fell first, paying after living dangerously. He tried to play the late cut against Bumrah, but only edged one behind for Rishabh Pant to take comfortably. Shortly after, Ishant came up with an unplayable length delivery and skipper Tim Paine (5) had no choice but to play at it, again, only to edge it to Pant.
Australia were struggling at 127/6, but a fruitful partnership between Head and Pat Cummins turned things around. Like Cheteshwar Pujara on day 1, Head went into attack mode and pushed for runs at a faster pace than he had earlier. He reached his 50 from 103 balls. This passage of play allowed Australia to cruise, with Virat Kohli even getting Murali Vijay to bowl an over before the new ball could be taken.
As soon as India had bowled 80 overs, Kohli took the new ball and handed it to Bumrah. He didn’t disappoint. Having already played a decent number of deliveries, Cummins was given leg before. Head and Mitchell Starc then played patiently, ensuring India didn’t have anything more to cheer about.
The demolition job
Ishant got the ball rolling for India in the first over of the Australian innings, first with a shout for leg before against opener Aaron Finch. Despite being turned down, Ishant persisted with the line and length, and was rewarded for sticking to his plan. On just the third ball, a fuller, inswinging delivery took an inside edge from Finch’s bat to clatter on to the stumps.
Brought on in the 12th over, Ashwin gave Australia little breathing room, striking before the lunch break, and soon after as well. In an interesting duel between the off-spinner and debutant Marcus Harris, the latter almost hit one to Murali Vijay at silly point. The ball landed just short. However, Harris’s luck evaporated soon after.
Harris played on to his pads and was caught at silly point in the 22nd over. After lunch, Shaun Marsh gifted his wicket almost immediately. In the very first over, he went for a wild slash, but ended up playing on to his stumps and Australia were reduced to 59/3. Ashwin got Usman Khawaja’s wicket soon after. The left-hander tried pushing one forward, and gloved it to Pant. India appealed, and then opted for a review with the hotspot showing a faint tickle on Khawaja’s glove.
In the morning, India were bowled out for 250 without adding anything to its overnight score, as Mohammed Shami was dismissed off the very first ball of the day. Shami went after a short delivery from Josh Hazlewood (3/52) only to glove it down leg side. Starc (2/63), Pat Cummins (2/49) and Nathan Lyon (2/83) finished with a brace each.