- Sinchan Saha | February 9, 2023 | 9:01 pm
IND vs AUS, 1st Test, Day 1: India 77 for 1 (Rohit 56*) trail Australia 177 (Labuschagne 49, Smith 37, Jadeja 5-47) by 100 runs
On the first day of the much-anticipated Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Ravindra Jadeja made a triumphant return to international cricket with his 11th five-wicket haul, helping to bowl Australia out for 177
The three batters who appeared to be confident were all bowled out by Jadeja: Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, and Peter Handscomb With 56 runs off 69 balls, Rohit Sharma led India’s response, which brought India within 100 runs of Australia’s total with nine wickets remaining.
Jadeja bowled with precision and subtle pace and trajectory changes on a helpful surface. He continued to bowl a length or slightly fuller, but the odd ball slowed down. R Ashwin, who tried much harder, made three contributions.
Australia’s innings’ rhythms were typical of a turning track. India were a little impatient with their bowlers, knowing the premium on runs on such tracks, as Australia sought to capitalize on every scoring opportunity. This resulted in sporadic scoring and dismissals.
However, there was no prior preparation for the initial run of wickets. On a pitch where batting last will be difficult, Australia had won the crucial toss, but the fast bowlers, the excellent Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami, were able to remove the openers for one run each.
Siraj’s first pitch was a stunning outswinger, or inswinger for left-handed batters, that he used to pitch on leg and move just enough to beat Usman Khawaja’s inside edge while remaining on leg stump. Shami went around the wicket to seam the ball just enough to beat David Warner so thoroughly that, had the ball not ricocheted and sent the off stump cartwheeling, Warner would have been out lbw.
In the subsequent three overs, Labuschagne and Smith struck four boundaries, resulting in a double change: Axar Patel and Jadeja Jadeja received the ball immediately, and India regained control by employing both pace and spin. Spinners bowled the second half of the first session, but Labuschagne and Smith were up to the challenge. They had added 74 largely assured runs before lunch.
However, after lunch, Jadeja ran through the middle order as the ball continued to turn. The delivery that got Labuschagne was probably the best one. It was a round arm that dipped on Labuschagne, dragged his back foot out, and then turned away in a dust cloud to leave him alone. After replacing Wriddhiman Saha last year, debutant KS Bharat was demoted for the first time.
Jadeja turned it past his inside edge from round the wicket after Matt Renshaw, arguably keeping out Travis Head, who does not have a good record in Asia or against spin, was caught on the crease.
After that, Smith defeated Axar for three boundaries in an over, triggering an immediate change that resulted in Handscomb scoring more runs against R Ashwin. Nevertheless, Jadeja brought them back with a series of large deliveries. One turned only slightly to hold its line in front of off and beat his inside edge to knock back the off stump, despite Smith’s habit of defending for big turns.
Once more, a flurry of runs through Alex Carey’s sweeps and reverse sweeps followed. India immediately responded by eliminating catching men in front of the wicket to prevent both sweeps. Ashwin then followed it up with some classic Ashwin bowling to draw Pat Cummins’ outside edge, ending a 53-run partnership in just 11.1 overs. Carey eventually played on a reverse sweep to give Ashwin his 450th wicket in a Test. He dragged him wide, straight, forward, back, and then faster into the room.
Ashwin and Jadeja had a chance to go five for five with three wickets, but Jadeja didn’t play a home Test since March. Jadeja won the friendly competition by lbw trapping debutant offspinner Todd Murphy and Peter Handscomb during the tea break. Before he started to farm the strike and played a low-percentage sweep to a full ball, Handscomb had looked good. Ashwin hit Scott Boland with a carrom ball to end the innings. The highest score remained Labuschagne’s 49.
With the remaining ball, Australia returned to the field with very little room for error. Their four-man attack depended on everything going right because they had few runs to attack with.
Cummins, their best bowler and captain, had perhaps his worst ball-handling day at the wrong time. Rohit was ruthless, and he frequently overpitched and strayed from the pads. In the first over, there were three boundaries: one between the slip and the gully and two beautiful flicks into the leg side. His second over featured two leg-side offerings for Rohit, just as Cummins seemed to have regained control with a maiden to KL Rahul. India went 26 for 0 in five overs, according to Cummins’ figures of 3-1-23-0.
Although Nathan Lyon and Murphy, two similar offspinners, were able to extract as much power from the pitch as the India spinners were, Boland provided superior control. Rohit was quick and took calculated risks whenever they put together good balls. In the fourteenth over, he stepped out and cover-drove every full ball before hitting Lyon over his head for a six.
Rohit reached fifty with a paddle sweep in the 22nd over and celebrated with a regal cover drive the following ball. He had taken advantage of early wickets and wore out the spinners to make mistakes.
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However, just before stumps, Murphy provided Australia with some consolation by turning the ball from the rough around the wicket and scoring KL Rahul’s wicket in Test cricket.