1st Test: India edge defiant Australia by 31 runs

1st Test: India edge defiant Australia by 31 runs

Virat Kohli celeberates India's victory in the first Test cricket match against Australia with teammates at the Adelaide Oval. (AFP Photo)

Harsha Bhogle couldn’t have described this battle for the ages in a better way, “a great story told by 22 people.”

 No one expects things to be easy in Australia, especially when it comes to Test cricket. And, not for the first time, India discovered it the hard way. 

India were deserving winners, but the famous Aussie grit refused to bow out without a fight. In a classic Test-match battle, where the ebb and flow of the game kept fans of both sides anxious and excited at different stages, India ended the Australian resistance in an extended second session on day 5 to take a 1-0 lead in the four-Test series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Australia fought hard with their limited batting resources but the target of 323 was beyond their might. Resuming at their overnight score of 104/4, the hosts folded for 291 in 119.5 overs, handing India their first win in nearly a decade on  Australian soil. The 31-run win is also the first time India have won the first match of a series in Australia, setting them up for a potential maiden series win Down Under in 71 years.

On an eventful final day, every time India got a sniff of victory, Australia frustrated them with doughty partnerships. If the tourists thought of a quick finish to the day, Australia weren’t ready to give it to them on a platter. Overnight batsmen Travis Head and Shaun Marsh (60, 166b, 6x4) kept the Indian bowlers at bay for almost eight overs before cracking up.

It needed a jaffa of a delivery from Ishant Sharma to dismiss Head, the left-hander finding no answer to paceman’s well-directed bouncer which lobbed to Ajinkya Rahane at gully as he tried to fend it. His overnight companion Marsh, however, grew in strength to keep Australian hopes alive. He soon brought up his half-century and in the company of a fortuitous Tim Paine (41, 73b, 4x4), began to trim India’s lead. Just when the left-right combination had begun to give some anxious moments to the tourists, Jasprit Bumrah provided the vital breakthrough that India were looking for and Australia were dreading. The right-arm quick landed one on a perfect length and just got it to seam away as Marsh felt for it, resulting in a faint edge.

India were smelling blood but Paine and Pat Cummins (28, 121b, 3x4) stayed firm to take Australia to lunch without further loss. Paine, lucky to survive on a personal score of seven in Australia’s total of 141/5, was nailed soon after the lunch break with Bumrah striking again.

T he cat and mouse game between ball and bat continued as Australia managed to build a partnership every time India earned a wicket. Cummins – who survived India’s review and then reviewed to survive in one Ashwin over, then forged a 41-run stand with an enterprising Mitchell Starc (28, 44, 2x4). After Starc’s dismissal Nathan Lyon (38 n.o.) and Cummins frustrated India and after the latter, the ninth wicket to fall, Lyon and Josh Hazlewood threatened to pull off a heist before Ashwin found the lone success of the day.

When Hazlewood edged the off-spinner to K L Rahul at slip there was as much relief as revelling in the Indian camp.

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