Kuldeep halts Aus charge

Cricket Fourth Test: Debutant grabs 4/68 as India bowl out Australia for 300 on opening day

Kuldeep halts Aus charge
It was a forgettable first session for India. Their injured captain Virat Kohli was ruled out, they lost the crucial toss and then grassed a golden opportunity to dismiss David Warner in the first ball of the innings.

As Warner and the man in form Steven Smith, with yet another fine century, exploited the bowling, the Indians cut a sorry figure. Till the unheralded, left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav rescued the contest from the painfully skewed domination of bat.

Perhaps, most in India could relate chinaman bowling to South African Paul Adams, chiefly due to his unusual action. Kuldeep reprised the memories of chinaman, but with a smooth style, a nagging, consistent length and variations to script an excellent Test debut. His figures of 4-68 not only spiced up the contest, but also helped India bounce back into the day’s play after Smith’s effortless 111 (173b, 14x4) had got them on ropes. Alongwith Umesh Yadav (2-69), he swung the momentum by restricting Australia to the first innings total of 300.

Indian openers came out to face the one over scheduled for the day and didn’t add to their account. The pitch, with all the promise of assisting seam and bounce by the curators, turned out to be otherwise. The ball stayed low at times and the surface held limited scope for the seamers. 

Kuldeep reserved his magic till the play resumed after the lunch break. By then Warner, provided a lifeline at third slip by Karun Nair off Bhuvneshwar Kumar, had tottered to his first half-century of the tour and Smith was on the brink of another century. Umesh had provided the breakthrough by knocking the bails of Matt Renshaw, but that was it. The sight of an irrepressible Kohli, wearing a yellow bib and carrying drinks to chat with his team-mates, was the rare bright breakaway moment from a lifeless session for the Indians. Smith and Warner chewed on the ordinary Indian bowling during their 134 runs second-wicket partnership, accumulating 131 runs in the first session.

Kuldeep then shook up the Indian challenge. Not once during his spells did the 22-year-old bowl short. In the fourth over after lunch, he ended Warner’s stay, beating him by bounce and inducing an edge which was grabbed by captain Ajinkya Rahane. Umesh, with a short delivery, had Shaun Marsh caught behind, and Indians were back in the contest.

Rahane’s captaincy, too, dramatically lifted and an attacking set-up began to occupy the field.

Peter Handscomb fell into the trap of Kuldeep with another beauty. Handscomb was beaten in the air as he looked to cover drive only to be bowled through the gate.

The lone Australian batsman who picked Kuldeep’s length with ease was Smith. The Australian captain began briskly, before slowing down his scoring. The Indians toiled to curtail him -- Umesh and Bhuvneshwar attacked him from round the stump in the morning, the fielders were positioned to cut off the drives, but nothing distracted Smith from scoring his third century on the tour.

Meanwhile, Kuldeep took his third wicket with a brilliant dismissal of Glenn Maxwell, who countered two chinaman deliveries well but was squared up by a wrong’un. Kuldeep foxed Maxwell with the ball beating his bat and clipping the top of the stumps. Once, Ravichandran Ashwin, overshadowed by Kuldeep’s brilliant spell, got a nick from Smith, India finished on top in the second session conceding 77 runs for five wickets, with Kuldeep leading the team to the dressing room.

Matthew Wade (57), put up a fighting half-century in the final session, but India were swift to wipe off the tale to round off an absorbing first day of series decider.
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