Ashwin, Head dominate see-saw battle on Day 2



Ashwin took 3 for 50 as Australia were kept on a leash on day 2 © Getty

Ravichandran Ashwin helped India overcome their batting debacle in the Adelaide Test with a fine spell that got him three wickets while Travis Head’s battling fifty ensured that Australia were not completely blown away. At the end of the second day, India had their nose slightly ahead with Australia trailing by 59 runs but with three wickets still in hand. India’s recent unfavorable run-ins with lower-order batting, however, would make them wary despite having a good day overall.

In the first session of the day, three wickets fell but for a large part of it, Australia showed more discipline in staying in, with a patient Usman Khawaja leading the way. It took Australia just one ball to end India’s first innings on Friday (December 7) as Mohammed Shami gloved one down the leg-side to the ‘keeper off Josh Hazlewood to finish the innings on the overnight score of 250.

Ishant Sharma started well for India, getting Aaron Finch to drag a big inswinger onto the stumps. The first four deliveries of the day had seen two wickets for no run, but thereafter, Australia buckled down through Khawaja and debutant Marcus Harris.

While Ishant remained a persistent threat due to his fuller length, his new-ball partner Jasprit Bumrah was guilty of not keeping the pressure on from his end. The runs came at a trickle for both left-handers, but they remained disciplined to steady the innings with some resoluteness and added 45 for the second wicket.

The introduction of Ashwin’s offspin saw Harris become a little more adventurous and even saw him successfully loft one straight back over the bowler for a boundary. But Ashwin managed to win that battle eventually, beating Harris with some drift, to have him caught bat-pad at silly point for 26.

That was Ashwin’s first success through an unchanged spell of 22 overs across the two sessions. In the second, he had Shaun Marsh driving and dragging onto the stumps for 2 before piling on the pressure from his end. Khawaja was done in by extra bounce after a patient 125-ball 28 and became Ashwin’s third victim as Australia slipped to 87/4.

Peter Handscomb and Head put on a resolute stand until the second break. But Bumrah, broke through soon after getting the former to nick behind. Ishant managed to get skipper Tim Paine with just seven more runs added to leave Australia tottering. However, Head who had overcome a nervous start against Ashwin, and Pat Cummins batted with patience and common sense to put together a 50-run stand for the 7th wicket against a rapidly softening ball. With that, also came India’s rush towards the second new cherry which yielded immediate dividends. Bumrah had Cummins shouldering arms to big incoming delivery and pegged Australia back, yet again.

There were more nervous moments for both Head and Starc as edges flew beyond the reach of the fielders with Ashwin wheeling away gamely, two short of a five-wicket haul. But both batsmen managed to see it through and gave Australia some hope going into the third day.

Brief scores: India 250 (Cheteshwar Pujara 123; Josh Hazlewood 3-52) lead Australia 191/7 (Travis Head 61; R Ashwin 3-50) by 133 runs.

© Cricbuzz


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