Cricket

Openers flatter to deceive as India push lead past 100


INDIA TOUR OF AUSTRALIA, 2018-19

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Rahul’s enterprising knock helped India stretch their lead into three figures in quick time © Getty

India made big strides on the third day of the first Test in Adelaide as they built up an overall lead of 101 by Tea. The bowlers earned them a slender, but crucial, 15-run lead in a rain-interrupted first session, following which, the openers showed good application to extend the lead further through a 63-run opening stand.

The partnership between KL Rahul and M Vijay, their first 50-plus stand outside home, saw them correct their mistakes from the first innings. Then, they were guilty of playing too many shots too early. But this time around they were willing to leave many more balls, and the approach reflected in the scorecard which read 11/0 after the first nine overs against the new ball.

KL Rahul was the first of the two to break the self-imposed shackles, going for repeated big drives against the pacers. It earned him boundaries and a stunning six as well but also to his eventual downfall at 44, when he was caught behind off Hazlewood. A short while before that Vijay had edged a loose shot to second slip off Mitchell Starc as Australia bagged both in the space of 13 runs.

But with the threat of the new ball seen off, and the cushion of a first-innings lead, India were still in a position to dictate terms.

That lead was earned by India’s bowlers in the first innings as they started the day needing three more wickets to finish the innings. Travis Head top-scored for Australia with 72, and managed to add 44 runs between rain breaks in the first session with the tail, to help Australia get close to India’s first innings score of 250 on Saturday (December 8).

The day started with a 45-minute delay because of rain. And when play started, Mitchell Starc, the other overnight batsman with Head, came out looking to be positive and survived a few nervous moments against India’s pacers in his knock of 15. It came to an end when he edged behind a full delivery from Jasprit Bumrah before rain stopped play once again.

When play resumed once more, Nathan Lyon hit 24 off 28 balls, sweeping R Ashwin for a boundary and hooking Mohammed Shami for a six while Head batted steadily at the other end. The ninth-wicket stand worth 31 was helping Australia dream about a lead, but Shami put a quick end to those hopes.

Soon after being hit for a six, he managed to get Head and Josh Hazlewood off successive deliveries and in identical fashion (caught behind) to bring the innings to a quick end.

India’s openers had about 15 minutes of play ahead of them before the revised Lunch break, but once again, rain came in to force an early break. Post that, they came out with purpose, and played an important role as India went into Tea at 86/2.

Australia’s hopes of a fight back will rest on Nathan Lyon who had KL Rahul dropped once and nearly had Pujara caught behind only to be overturned by DRS.

Brief scores: India 250 (Cheteshwar Pujara 123; Josh Hazlewood 3-52) and 86/2 (KL Rahul 44) lead Australia 235 (Travis Head 72; Jasprit Bumrah 3-47 R Ashwin 3-57) by 101 runs.

© Cricbuzz

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