- Sinchan Saha | February 17, 2023 | 12:45 pm
Premier India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin struck twice in one over to dash Australian hopes in the first innings of the second Test at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi on Friday. The veteran spinner removed Australia’s top-order batter Marnus Labuschagne (18) in the fourth delivery of the 23rd over as he caught him plumb in front of the stumps while Steve Smith (0) lasted only for two deliveries after edging a slider to the gloves off Srikar Bharat.
The visitors got off to a good start despite the loss of David Warner and their poor batting performance in the Test series opener. Before Ashwin turned the first session around in just three deliveries, Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne were batting with positive intent in a quick stand for the second wicket.
With a classic delivery that spun after drifting away from the batter, the witty spinner overturned the umpire’s decision to dismiss Marnus Labuschagne. Ashwin picked up his 700th First Class wicket when Labuschagne was dismissed. After two balls, Indian wicket keeper Srikar Bharat took a clever catch from behind the stumps to end Smith’s stay.
Australia lost two of their best batters in a short period of time on a spin-friendly pitch that is difficult for batters. After Ravindra Jadeja trapped Usman Khawaja in front of the wicket on the very next delivery, the third umpire overturned the decision made by the on field umpire.
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Khawaja, along with Travis Head, who was controversially left out of the Nagpur Test, holds the key for the visitors and scored his 20th half-century in Test matches after surviving that close LBW call. In the first innings of the second Test, Ashwin will want to keep the Australians to a low score because he has shown menacing control of the bat.