Exploiting the favourable conditions, left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemman picked up his maiden five-wicket haul as Australia skittled India out for a paltry 109 on day one of the third Test here on Wednesday. India’s aggressive approach on a track offering vicious turn backfired as they capitulated in just 33.2 overs after opting to bat.
Like the last two Tests, the pitch was expected to offer plenty of turn but the ball turning square in the first hour of play and the odd one keeping low came as a slight surprise. Virat Kohli top scored for India with 22 off 52 balls while opener Shubhman Gill, who replaced struggling KL Rahul, contributed 21.
Having lost seven of the batters by the end of the opening session, India could add only 25 more runs to their total with Kuhnemann (5/16), playing only his second Test, ending with career-best figures in first-class cricket. If it wasn’t for Umesh Yadav’s 17 off 13 balls, India would have struggled to get past the 100-run mark. He used the slog sweep effectively to end with a couple of sixes and four.
Kuhnemman completed a memorable five-wicket haul by trapping Umesh in front of the stumps. Mohammad Siraj’s run out following a mix up with Axar Patel brought an end to the innings. Usman Khawaja (33 batting off 77) and Marnus Labuschagne (16 batting off 51), who was out off a no-ball, batted well on a rank turner to take Australia to 71 for one in 22 overs at tea on day one.
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Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were expected to make deeper inroads into Australian batter than what they managed. The only wicket that came India’s way was of Travis Head (9), who missed a straight ball from Jadeja to be adjudged lbw.
Jadeja forced Labuschagne to play on to his stumps but he was guilty of bowling a no ball for the third time in the series.
Unlike the last game, Australia were able to apply themselves in testing conditions. Both Khawaja and Labuschagne trusted their defence to counter the spinners. Ashwin bowled a tad too full in his nine-over spell.
It was a sign of desperation that India exhausted two of their three views in the first 10 overs. Labuschagne got a second life when India did not review a lbw call off Ashwin. Earlier, Matthew Hayden on air called the the black soil surface at the Holkar Stadium a day-three pitch and it sure behaved like one.
Three batters including skipper Rohit Sharma (12), Jadeja (4) and Shreyas Iyer (0) perished while trying to attack. Kohli looked assured in the middle before being trapped lbw by Todd Murphy towards the end of the session. Winning the toss for the first time in the series, India expectedly decided to bat first. Shubman Gill replaced an out-of-form K L Rahul in the playing eleven while Umesh Yadav was brought in for the rested Mohammad Shami.
Having regained match fitness, both Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green made Australia’s playing eleven.
Starc’s first over to Rohit was among the highlights of the morning session. Before the spinners ran through the Indian batting, Starc got the ball to swing giving the India skipper a tough time.
Rohit got a faint outside edge on the very first ball he faced but Australia did not take a review. Three balls later, Starc got the ball to swing back in and it flicked Rohit’s pads. Ball tracking showed the ball would have hit the off stump but Australia decided against taking DRS again. Gill faced Green from the other end and began his innings with an elegant cover drive. Spin was introduced in the sixth over and Kuhnemman got the ball to turn sharply. In the last ball of the over, Rohit stepped out to play across the line and got beaten in the flight and Alex Carey made a clean stumping. Kuhnemann had Gill caught at first slip with the opener getting a thick outside edge while offering a forward defence.
Cheteshwar Pujara’s stay lasted only four balls as Lyon got one to turn massively from wide off stump that crashed into the middle stump. The ball kept a tad low as well and Pujara was found wanting on the back foot.
Jadeja’s fall made it 44 for four. After surviving a close DRS call, the southpaw went for the attack against Lyon and was caught at short extra cover. Kuhnemann got this third wicket of the morning when Iyer played an attempted cut on to his stumps and within first hour of play, India had lost half their side.
Kohli and K S Bharat shared 26 runs for the sixth wicket before departing towards the end of the session.
Kohli was adjudged leg before off Murphy while trying to flick one that pitched on the off-stump and turned to hit the middle.
Bharat, who slog swept Murphy for a six, was out lbw to Lyon while offering a long defensive stride.