India’s plan of setting a target of 300 runs for Australia in the second Test was scuppered in spectacular fashion thanks to a devastating spell from Australian pacers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. India managed a second innings total of 274/10, which gives the visitors a realistic target of 188 with a day and a half’s play remaining at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru.
Ajinkya Rahane (52) and Cheteshwar Pujara (92) continued where they left off on Monday and with the Indian vice-captain reaching a half-century in trying conditions, it seemed India would dominate the morning session.
Disaster struck when Australian skipper Steve Smith opted for the new ball and introduced Starc into the attack. The pacer rewarded his captain’s belief immediately, getting Rahane out via LBW on the third ball and on the very next ball removed Karun Nair (0) for a golden duck to change the complexion of the match in a span of two balls.
The Rahane dismissal was arguably the turning point of the session, even more so with umpire Nigel Llong initially giving Rahane not out but after an Australian review, the decision was overturned much to delight of Steve Smith and co.
While Starc didn’t get his hat-trick, the psychological damage was done as Hazlewood picked up the wickets of Pujara, who was nearing a century, and Ravichandran Ashwin (4) in the next over with some beautiful deliveries that bamboozled the Indian batsmen.
Umesh Yadav was next to walk in and he would be the next to walk back to the pavilion after he attempted to drive Hazlewood but found David Warner at mid-off instead.
Wriddhiman Saha (20*) proved to the be the sole source of resistance, keeping his head and playing some smart shots even as his teammates lost their heads and built a vital 16-run partnership with tail-ender Ishant Sharma (6).
Sharma eventually fell to Steve O’Keefe, driving a loose ball which went straight to Shaun Marsh at short over to end the Indian innings at 274.
Hazlewood (6/67) was the pick of the visiting bowlers but had able support from Starc (2/74) and O’Keefe (2/36) in an action-packed opening session and while the Test is by no way done and dusted, the momentum is firmly with the Australians.