Saturday, December 2, 2023

Third Test: Smith steadies Australia after early blows

Ranchi, March 16 (IANS) Skipper Steven Smith led the way with a half-century as Australia posted 194/4 in their first innings at tea on the opening day of their third cricket Test against India at the JSCA International Stadium here on Thursday.

Smith was batting on 80 runs with Glenn Maxwell on 19 at the other end when the teams came in for the tea break.

Fast bowler Umesh Yadav returned the figures of 2/54 while left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin picked up a wicket each for India.

Australia were off to a rocky start, losing three wickets in the first session. Peter Handscomb joined Smith in the middle and the duo proceeded to try and bring the visitors back on track with a 51-run partnership.

The hosts suffered a scare when skipper Virat Kohli appeared to injure his shoulder while trying to save a boundary.

Handscomb had hit a Jadeja delivery wide of mid-on prompting Kohli to give chase. The Indian skipper dived in an effort to prevent the ball from crossing the boundary line and ended up hurting himself.

The incident forced Kohli to walk off the field to seek medical attention with Ajinkya Rahane acting as stand-in captain.

Umesh trapped Handscomb leg before with an in-swinging yorker a short while after the lunch break, to give India another breakthrough.

Smith and Maxwell then helped to steady the boat with an unbeaten 54-run stand.

Smith hit nine boundaries during his 161-ball stay in the middle while Maxwell — usually an attacking batsman — played cautiously, hitting only two boundaries in the 47 deliveries he has faced so far.

Earlier, electing to bat on winning the toss, the visitors were off to a brisk start with openers Matt Renshaw and David Warner maintaining a scoring rate of around four runs an over in the initial stage.

With both Umesh and Ishant persisting with a leg stump line, the Australian openers were able to find the gap at regular intervals. The Indian pacers did not get much help from the pitch which was a bit low and slow.

But the introduction of spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin into the attack helped to turn the tide for the hosts.

Jadeja struck the first blow when Warner lobbed a full toss back to the bowler.

That slowed down the scoring rate with Renshaw and Smith managing to score only 30 runs in around 13 overs before the former was dismissed by Umesh.

Renshaw tried to play a delivery which was just outside the off stump only to see the ball nick the outside edge on its way into the palms of Indian captain Virat Kohli in the slips.

Pujara then pulled off an excellent diving catch off Ashwin’s bowling to send back Shaun Marsh a short while later. The umpire had originally ruled Marsh not out but the Indians decided to call for the review which overturned the decision.

Brief scores:

Australia (First Innings): 194/4 (Steven Smith 80 batting, Matt Renshaw 44) vs India.

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