India ended Day 2 on 120 for one with Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara the two not out batsmen. Centuries from Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell helped Australia score 451 all out in their first innings.
Test cricket is most fun when a team fights fire with fire. For 90 overs on Day 1 of the Ranchi Test, the Indian bowling was made to look pretty ordinary, first by Australia skipper Steve Smith and then comeback man Glenn Maxwell. If at all, anything could have lifted them was a better showing with the ball, and then hope their batsmen responded well.
India did exactly that on the second day. Even in the absence of Virat Kohli, who was confined to the dressing room after he had injured his shoulder the previous day, the Indian bowling, led by Ravindra Jadeja’s second five-wicket haul of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, eighth of his career, helped dismiss Australia for 451. The tourists were led by Smith, who remained unbeaten on an epic 178* and became the first Australian and the fifth visiting captain to notch up a 150-plus score in India.
India’s response was on par with that of Australia. At stumps, they are a wicket down for 120, behind Australia by 331 runs. With Australia having posted their eighth 400-plus total in the country, India began watchfully, and played out the remaining eight overs before tea even as Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins made the ball seam off the surface. KL Rahul settled in with three boundaries while Vijay was content playing for the break. However, post tea is when both batsmen showed just how easy batting was on this surface.
Rahul led India’s response with his fourth half-century of the series. His backfoot play was once again one for the purists. He pushed, drove and flicked with panache, and barring one edge off Steve O’ Keefe, everything else was dealt well. If in Pune, Rahul showed he can stand up in adversity, and in Bengaluru, proved that he is capable of scoring consistently, he took it a notch further in Ranchi.
That is, before Cummins foxed him with a slower bouncer and repaid Smith’s confidence in him who persisted with the bowler for the speed generating. Vijay, playing his 50th Test, batted with a subdued approach before getting into his elements once Rahul exited and picked up his first boundary after 51 deliveries. Throughout, he played the sweep shot with perfection and collected three fours off Nathan Lyon’s eighth over. Otherwise, just like their counterpart R Ashwin and Jadeja, the spin of Lyon and O’Keefe, for the first time this series, hardly resulted in any exciting moments for Australia; though they will be hoping one of them pulls off a Jadeja-like performance.
Courtesy: Times of India