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BGT 2023, IND v AUS, 2nd Test, Day 1: Ashwin reaches 100-wicket mark against Aus; visitors post 263

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23, India vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 1: Ravichandran Ashwin reaches 100-wicket mark against Australia; visitors post 263.

Ravichandran Ashwin goes past Harbhajan Singh's wicket tally of 417 in Tests (Images: ©BCCI)
Ashwin reaches 100 Test wickets mark against Australia (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Brief Scores: India 21/0 (Rohit 13*) trail Australia 263 (Khawaja 81, Handscomb 72*, Shami 4/60, Ashwin 3/57) by 242 runs at Stumps on Day 1

After registering their third-biggest victory against Australia by an innings and 132 runs, hosts India locked horns with them for the second of the four-match Test series in Border Gavaskar Trophy (BGT) 2022-23 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi on Friday.

This was Australia’s eighth Test in Delhi where they have won 1, lost 3 and drew 3 games till date. Their only win here came in their very first game here during the 1959-60 tour.

Australia went in with three spinners; Lower-order contributed

The big talking point for Australia at the toss was their decision to go in with three spinners with captain Pat Cummins being their lone fast bowler. India’s history of struggle against finger spinners might have forced Australia’s selection committee to add left-arm orthodox bowler Matthew Kuhnemann to join the squad couple of days back. Last time Australia went in with three spinners in a Test was during the second Test in Chattogram against Bangladesh in 2017.

The middle order again struggled as Australia, after a decent start, were pushed back to 168-6 but unlike the last game, the lower order for the visitors showed a lot of fight, not playing any rash shots and trying to stay long at the crease. As a result, Australia ended up with 263 on the board.

Australia present an improved display after the Nagpur fiasco

On winning the toss, Australia captain Pat Cummins opted to bat first on a track which looked dry just like the last Test; the two-faced pitch appeared to be good for batting on the first day, before the spinners could have their say on the coming days.

India’s Test warrior Cheteshwar Pujara played his 100th Test match, as Shreyas Iyer made a return to the side from injury replacing Suryakumar Yadav. Australia handed a debut cap to left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann, besides adding Travis Head in the playing eleven, leaving out Matthew Renshaw and Scott Boland.

Let’s scan how the three sessions panned out on the first day of the second Test between India and England in Delhi.

Session 1: Ashwin brought India back in the game after Khawaja’s 50* took Australia to 94/3

Deciding to bat first, Australia showed some fight against a little indisciplined bowling from India’s pacers - Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami. There were those occasional ‘plays and misses’ but Usman Khawaja showed intent from the beginning. David Warner showed character to stay on the crease before punching Siraj through covers to earn his first boundary. Khawaja used his feet against Ravichandran Ashwin as Australia managed a fifty-run opening partnership in 14 overs. Since 2017, it was just the fourth visiting opening pair to register a fifty-run partnership in India.

But Shami broke the stand with a beautiful angled delivery that drew Warner across before holding its line to take the outside edge of the batter’s blade on 15. The new batter, Marnus Labuschagne, who notched a solid 49 in the first innings of Nagpur Test, looked in good touch driving Ashwin through covers for a boundary.

Ashwin cunningly trapped Labuschagne before the stumps on 18 with a ball that drifted away to spin back, hitting the front pad of the right-hander who was pressing forward on the defensive push. Two balls later, Steve Smith went back for a two-ball duck after edging a sliding delivery that turned sharp before wicketkeeper KS Bharat grabbed a superb catch.

Australia though enjoyed Usman Khawaja’s 20th Test fifty going into the lunch break with 94/3 on the scorecard, but India really made a great return in the game thanks to Ashwin’s masterclass bowling.

Session 2: India made regular inroads against aggressive Australia; visitors 199/6 at Tea

Both Australia batters at the crease - Usman Khawaja and Travis Head - began in a positive manner after Lunch. Head danced down the pitch to smash Ashwin straight over his head for a huge six but his small stay came to an end when on 12, he edged a length ball from Shami to the slips where KL Rahul grabbed a good catch over his shoulder.

Number 6 batter Peter Handscomb punched Shami late, square of the off side for a boundary before driving him through covers to get the same result. Khawaja (81) too played quite a few reverse sweeps but he was outstandingly caught off the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja by KL Rahul at the point region. With this wicket, Jadeja meanwhile enjoyed his 250th Test scalp in 62 games, becoming the second-fastest after Ian Botham to get the double of 2500+ Test runs and 250+ wickets.

In the very next over, Ashwin sent back Alex Carey who playing with a hard hand saw the ball taking the edge of his bat and ending in the hands of Virat Kohli in the slips; Ashwin becomes the second Indian bowler after Anil Kumble (111) to take 100 Test wickets against Australia.

Pat Cummins showed some aggression, smacking couple of sixes as an unbeaten 31-run stand for the seventh wicket took Australia to the Tea break with 199/6 on the board.

Session 3: Handscomb takes Australia to 263; India end on 21/0 at Stumps

Australia began the last session with the same mindset as Pat Cummins drilled Jadeja through square for a boundary, before Handscomb punched him off the backfoot to reach his fifth Test fifty. Finally, India broke the frustrating 59-run stand for the seventh wicket when Jadeja trapped Cummins (33) before the stumps.

Three balls later, as Todd Murphy went for a huge drive, the ball going through the gap between bat and pad, disturbed the stumps. Shami then broke the stumps of Nathan Lyon, but Handscomb continued in the same vein till the end to remain unbeaten on 72 as the tourists were rolled over for 263. Mohammed Shami finished with impressive figures of 4/60.

Both India openers - Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul - fought hard for the nine remaining overs to stay unbeaten at the end of the day’s play. India finished on 21/0 but the second last ball from Nathan Lyon that didn’t bounce was going to be spoken about for the rest of the night.

What to expect on Day 2

Just like their last game, India will look to bat long and post a huge score on the board, and in the process, leave the pitch to deteriorate more to extract help for the spinners. The low and slow bounce will give energy to the three Australian spinners as the visitors will look to keep India on a low score in the first innings.

Statistical Highlights from India vs Australia, Day 1

  1. With the wicket of Usman Khawaja, Ravindra Jadeja reached the 250-wicket mark in 62 Tests. He is the eighth India bowler to achieve this landmark. He also the second-best average (24.32) and second-best strike rate (59.8) after Ravichandran Ashwin in the list.

  2. Jadeja becomes the second fastest all-rounder to reach the special double of 2500+ Test runs and 250+ Test wickets, only behind Ian Botham who achieved the feat in 55 games.

  3. Ravichandran Ashwin, with the wicket of Alex Carey, picked up his 100th Test wicket against Australia, becoming just the second Indian bowler after Anil Kumble to take 100+ Test wickets against Australia. Kumble took 111 Test wickets against Australia. Ashwin is the 15th bowler in the world to have 100 wickets against Australia in Tests.


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