Aussies blunt Indian resolve

Cricket Second Test : Renshaw, Marsh strike half-centuries as visitors inch ahead with 48-run lead

Aussies blunt Indian resolve

After a gripping battle between the determined Australian batsmen and the hard-working Indian bowlers, the tourists managed to build a handy lead that could prove crucial in the eventual outcome of the second Test.

Australia, overnight 40/0, ended Sunday’s second day on a healthy 237 for six in 106 overs to establish a 48-run cushion over India’s first innings total of 189 all out here at the M Chinnaswamy stadium. With Matthew Wade (25) and the dangerous Mitchell Starc (14) still at the crease, Australia would look to expand their lead substantially.

Only 197 runs were made off 90 overs on the day but it hardly made for a boring spectacle that the score would otherwise have you believe. Ishant Sharma (1/39) and Umesh Yadav (1/57) bowled with sustained hostility for most part of the day while spinners Ravichandran Ashwin (1/75) and Ravindra Jadeja (3/49) gave little away. On a pitch where the Australian spinners made merry, Umesh and Ishant have bowled 47 overs between them so far with the kind of control and aggression that is rare for Indian pacemen. As well as the Indians bowled, Australian batsmen showed they were up to the task with the bloody-mindedness of hard-nosed professionals. With a fair bit of banter thrown in between, it spiced up an already riveting contest.

Opener Matt Renshaw (60, 263m, 196b, 5x4, 1x6) at the top and Shaun Marsh (66, 230m, 197b, 4x4) in the middle played innings worth their weight in gold to frustrate India’s hopes of skittling Australia early. These two innings will perhaps rank among two of the most unattractive played by southpaws but they certainly made up for their lack of flair with loads of substance.

Renshaw particularly showed immense character and fortitude for someone who is playing in these conditions for the first time. He did have the rub of the green going his way though. He was beaten times without number by the pace duo of Ishant and Umesh, edges fell short and he was dropped at slip by Virat Kohli on 29 off Umesh. He also smiled through the period when he and his skipper Steve Smith were engaged in some exchanges with Kohli and company.

Smith was sort of involved in a “face-making contest” with Ishant and made more faces than the number of runs he managed (8 runs in 81 minutes). But then that was the theme of Australia’s batting -- grind the Indian attack. Renshaw found an equally fortunate and determined partner in Shaun and stitched a 52-run stand for the third wicket to stabilise the innings just when India appeared to put some pressure on Australia. Having showed great amount of patience, Renshaw paid the price for being extra aggressive. His attempt to launch Jadeja into the stands for the second time in the space of three balls resulted in his stumping. As he stepped out, Jadeja pulled the length and spun the ball past the left-hander whose attempt to pad it away failed. 

Shaun was lucky to see India not review a caught-behind verdict when he was on 14. The replays confirmed he had gloved Umesh’s delivery but India had a rather satisfying session between lunch and tea break by taking three for 76. Later in the final session, Shaun survived an lbw verdict against him on 44 by successfully reviewing it while he was plumb in front off a no-ball on the same score – Umesh and Ishant being the unlucky bowlers respectively.

Dropped catches, bad luck with DRS calls and no-balls had a big say in India not taking more wickets than what they deserved but Kohli perhaps missed a trick or two with his bowling changes. The most successful bowler on the day - Jadeja - bowled the least number of overs, he was taken out of the attack soon after he took his first wicket in the first session, spinners hardly operated together and Ashwin was probably overbowled to the extent that he became predictable. When it rains, it pours. Doesn’t it?       

Score board

INDIA (I Innings): 189 all out
AUSTRALIA (I Innings; O/n: 40/0):
Warner b Ashwin    33
(87m, 67b, 3x4)
Renshaw st Saha b Jadeja    60
(263m, 196b, 5x4, 1x6)
Smith c Pujara b Jadeja    8
(81m, 52b)
S Marsh c Nair b Umesh    66
(230m, 197b, 4x4)
Handscomb c Ashwin b Jadeja    16
(31m, 30b, 2x4)
M Marsh lbw Ishant    0
(12m, 11b)
Wade (batting)    25
(116m, 68b, 2x4)
Starc (batting)    14
(23m, 19b, 2x4)
Extras (B-8, LB-2, NB-5)    15
Total (for 6 wkts, 106 overs)    237
Fall of wickets: 1-52 (Warner), 2-82 (Smith), 3-134 (Renshaw), 4-160 (Handscomb), 5-163 (M Marsh), 6-220 (S Marsh).

Bowling: Ishant 23-6-39-1 (nb-4), Umesh 24-7-57-1 (nb-1), Ashwin 41-10-75-1, Jadeja 17-1-49-3, Nair 1-0-7-0.

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