Despite the loss of Prithvi Shaw late in the evening, a four-wicket haul by Ravichandran Ashwin in a fine team bowling performance gave India a handy 62 run-lead at the end of day two of the first Test at Adelaide Oval.
India lost Shaw for just four in the final hour on day two, but nightwatchman Jasprit Bumrah and Mayank Agarwal took the visitors to stumps without further damage. Australia, behind by 53 runs after an ordinary batting performance, picked up the wicket of Shaw in the fourth over but could have had his partner too, had Tim Paine held onto an edge in Pat Cummins' first over.
The decisive moment in the day, one that perhaps firmly tilted the scales India's way, came in the Australian innings when Ashwin deceived Steve Smith with a peach to leave Australia in the lurch at 45/3, shortly after Bumrah had accounted for the openers. Facing 29 deliveries for a solitary run, Smith never looked at ease against the off-spinner and Ashwin had him edging to the cordon off one that didn't quite turn as much as the Australian expected.
With the lynchpin in the batting line-up back, Ashwin grew in confidence and he had Travis Head lobbing one back at him, before a half-tracker had debutant Cameron Green smashing to mid-wicket where Virat Kohli held onto a fine catch.
By tea on day two, India had eaten into half of the Australian line-up while holding a healthy lead of 152. The onus was on Marnus Labuschagne, who had survived two dropped chances, and Paine, to revive the innings.
However, with the partnership just starting to blossom, Umesh Yadav struck with a skidder that had Labuschagne trapped in front. He followed up with the wicket of Cummins two balls later to leave India right on top.
India should have closed the innings out sooner from there, but dropped chances let Paine and Mitchell Starc add some useful runs to cut down the deficit to just 53 by the time the hosts were bowled out, as the skipper remained unbeaten on 73, his third-highest score in the format.
Australia are all out for 191 🏏— ICC (@ICC) December 18, 2020
Yadav dismisses Hazlewood for 8⃣ and Paine remains unbeaten on 73.
India lead by 53 runs at the halfway point 🙌#AUSvIND SCORECARD 👉 https://t.co/Q10dx0IFfv pic.twitter.com/3RHitnLflZ
Earlier in the day, it took Australia just 25 balls to bring the Indian innings to a close. Cummins struck with his third delivery in the day when he sent back Ashwin, who nicked behind to the wicket-keeper.
Wriddhiman Saha edged behind off Starc in the next over, chasing a wide one. That left India's hopes with Yadav and Bumrah, the latter of whom was fresh off a half-century from the tour game.
Bumrah remained unbeaten as Yadav and Mohammad Shami departed in the space of six balls. India had added just 11 runs to their overnight total as they were bowled out for 244.
With the ball though, the visitors came out all guns blazing as Bumrah and Yadav bowled tight new-ball spells, conceding just 12 runs in the first 10 overs.
The first blow came in the 15th over when Bumrah, coming in from around the wicket at the left-hander, had Matthew Wade trapped in front. The review went in vain and India had the first wicket in the bag.
Bumrah struck again in his next over as he sent back the other opener, Joe Burns, also trapped in front with a full one that swung back into him. Having set him up with some back-of-a-length deliveries, the Indian pacer bowled the fuller in-swinging one to account for the opener.
India's joy could have multiplied next over if Bumrah had held onto a fairly straightforward chance offered by Labuschagne at deep square-leg. But in an attempt to save the six, Bumrah failed to go for the catch and the Australia middle-order batsman made them pay with a hard-fought 47, facing 119 balls and playing the pacers and spinners equally well.
What a session for India!— ICC (@ICC) December 18, 2020
R Ashwin picked up three crucial wickets to reduce Australia to 92/5 at tea ☕️
The hosts are trailing by 152 runs.
📝 #AUSvIND: https://t.co/Q10dx0r4nX pic.twitter.com/v60upE6PlH
Labuschagne, though, did offer another fairly easy chance off a short ball as Bumrah was pulled away in an unconvincing manner to mid-wicket, where Shaw put down a regulation chance.
What appeared to be a Smith - Labuschagne masterclass in the waiting turned into a fabulous show by the Indian bowlers, as Ashwin dismissed Smith and then chipped away at the middle-order.
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