Shaw bowled again after Paine’s 73 cuts Australia’s first-innings deficit to 53
India 244 (Kohli 74, Starc 4-53) and 9 for 1 lead Australia 191 (Paine 73*, Ashwin 4-55, Umesh 3-40) by 62 runs
As day-night Tests can do, the action in Adelaide went into fast forward as 15 wickets fell on the second day with India responding to what looked like a below-par batting effort with a superb team performance from the bowlers in which R Ashwin benefited from the pressure created by the three quick bowlers.
That Australia ended as close to India’s 244 as they did was down to a fine innings by captain Tim Paine who was left unbeaten on 73 while Marnus Labuschagne, with a somewhat skittish 47, was the only other player to pass 15 and the rest of the top six made 35 between them.
Tim Paine counter-attacks Getty Images
The match took on dimensions not entirely dissimilar to two years ago although on this occasion the margin on first innings was wider. But India could not get through six overs unscathed as Pat Cummins breached Prithvi Shaw’s defenses – Australia have exploited a technical failing that may end Shaw’s series after one match – but under lights the loss of one wicket was acceptable damage.
All the India bowlers played their part – the wicketless Mohammed Shami was the first of the quicks to find a fuller length – with Jasprit Bumrah making the initial incisions and Ashwin producing a delightful piece of bowling to snare Steven Smith which left Australia firmly on the back foot, from where they did not really recover. Thanks to their bowlers, India largely got away with three dropped chances.
The first part of the day could not have gone any better for the home side as they ran through India’s lower order for the addition of just 11 runs. From the moment of Virat Kohli’s run out on Thursday, India had lost their last seven wickets for 56.
Initially with the ball, Bumrah and Umesh Yadav offered a little too much that Australia could leave but the new-look opening pair of Joe Burns and Matthew Wade did not make any impression on the scoreboard. The first runs came in the fifth over and when Wade, opening the batting for the first time in first-class cricket, was trapped lbw from round the wicket it was 16 for 1 in the 15th over.
Labuschagne, who started his innings by yelling ‘no run’ as he left the ball alone, nearly fell to an early edge that just evaded Wriddhiman Saha but there was a more clear-cut chance when he had 12 and top-edged a pull towards long leg where Bumrah made a mess of it, unaware he had more room to the rope than he thought. After lunch, he was given a second life when Shaw dropped a simpler chance at square leg, but India mixed the poor with the very good to stay in charge.
Smith had scored one run in 28 balls when Ashwin sent down a delivery that went straight on – whether by design or not – that was edged to slip to send Ashwin off in almost a lap of celebration. At 45 for 3 in the 27th, India had a grip on both the wickets and the run rate.
Ashwin then worked over the left-handed Travis Head who chipped a soft return catch and that brought Cameron Green in for his first Test innings with Australia tottering. There were early signs of crisp footwork – a back-cut behind square was full of timing – but he became Ashwin’s third wicket when a pull went no further then Kohli at midwicket.
Labuschagne and Paine started a recovery, but it only went as far as a stand of 32 when Umesh Yadav skidded one into Labuschagne’s pads to leave the bowlers exposed. Cummins could not see out the over as he fended a short delivery into the gully and at 111 for 7 a deficit in three figures was on the cards.
Paine had shown urgency at the crease from the start – although he, too, had been given a life on 26 when a hook was spilled by Agarwal at deep square – and managed to conjure 80 runs from the last three wickets. Mitchell Starc, who earlier went into the top 10 of Australian Test wicket-takers, was run out coming back for a second but Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood hung around.
Paine went to his fifty with a strong square cut and followed it with a slash over the slips as Kohli’s face grew a little more impatient to wrap things up, but perhaps also partly aware of the tricky period his top order would face under lights. Ashwin removed his opposite number, Lyon, for his fourth wicket but was thumped for two boundaries by Hazlewood to further chip away at India’s lead meaning a return to Yadav who claimed the No. 11 with his first ball back.
If you’d offered India a lead of over fifty at the start of the day, they would have grabbed it. Australia are far from gone, but it feels like India’s game to lose.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo