INDORE: After a dismal batting performance in the first innings which allowed Australia to take a lead of 47 runs in the first innings at the end of the first day in the third Test at Indore, India have their task cut out on the second day.
Electing to bat first, India were bundled out for just 109 runs. Indian batters looked helpless in front of Australian spinners. Matthew Kuhnemann (5/16) registered his career-best figures, while spin veteran Nathan Lyon (3/35) also made merry on a pitch that offered a lot of turn to spinners.
Only Virat Kohli (22) and Shubman Gill (21) crossed the 20-run mark for India in their first innings while other batters struggled to score. Skipper Rohit Sharma (12), Ravindra Jadeja (4), Ravichandran Ashwin (5), who had delivered with the bat so far in the series, flopped this time around. Axar Patel (12*) was the sole survivor of Aussie spin onslaught, left wanting for more support. In Australia's first innings, Ravindra Jadeja started things with a bang, dismissing opener Travis Head for just nine, reducing the visitors to 12/1. While this early wicket sparked some hope, Usman Khawaja and the world's number one Test batter Marnus Labuschagne responded with a valuable 96-run stand for the second wicket, which helped Australia secure a lead.
While Jadeja (4/63) helped India make a mini-comeback with some quick wickets in the final session, Australia had taken the lead. Khawaja (60), Labuschagne (31) and stand-in skipper Steve Smith (26) helped Australia reach 156/4 at the end of the day's play. Peter Handscomb (7*) and Cameron Green (6*) stayed unbeaten for the visitors. On the second day of play, India will have to make sure that the lead remains minimum and the Australia team is not at the crease for long. "We have to get them out," batting coach Vikram Rathour said at a press conference.
Rathour said it was just an off day for the team as a batting unit and pitch offered a more sharper turn due to moisture. "The wicket was definitely challenging. It turned way more than we expected and the turn was sharper due to moisture. We definitely could have scored more, but I do not think we played poorly or rashly. It was just an off-day for us as a batting unit," he said. The coach said the turn became less sharp as the day progressed. "Credit to Australia for the way they bowled, they bowled in good areas," he added. The batting coach said that the side prefers to bat on turning tracks since "it is their strength." "We prefer playing in turning tracks, it is our strength. This is a one-off wicket. The two wickets in earlier Tests were not bad, we preferred them. Today, it was drier than expected. Perhaps, curators did not get time to prepare the wicket as the shift of venue of the match from Dharamshala to here was announced late," said Rathour. With the ICC World Test Championship final spot confirmed with a win, India will have to rely on their spin trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Axar to outfox the Aussies and Indian batters to roar back after a setback and conquer the turning tracks.
Brief Scores: India: 109 in 33.2 overs (Virat Kohli 22, Shubman Gill 21, Matthew Kuhnemann 5/16) trail Australia: 156/4 in 54 overs (Usman Khawaja 60, Marnus Labuschagne 31, Ravindra Jadeja 4/63).
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