Australia enjoyed their best day of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series so far, bowling out India for 109 before reaching 4-156 in reply to take a 47-run lead at stumps on day one of the third Test.
India won the toss and elected to bat first, with Australia’s spinners wreaking havoc on a turning wicket at Holkar Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
Matthew Kuhnemann claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests on day one of the Indore Test, finishing with 5-16 from nine overs, while veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon snared three scalps.
Australia responded by reaching 4-156 at stumps, with Cameron Green (6*) and Peter Handscomb (7*) at the crease.
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After the early loss of Travis Head, Khawaja (60) and Marnus Labuschagne (31) combined for 96 runs in Australia’s best partnership of the series. Khawaja subsequently guided Australia beyond India’s first-innings total in partnership with Steve Smith (26), before the pair fell late in the day in an Indian fightback.
Matthew Hayden was full of praise for Khawaja on Fox Cricket, saying: “Excellent half century, and just the way that he’s played. He’s seemed comfortable at the crease, he’s had soft hands, low hands … He hasn’t overhit. He’s been the standout for me today.”
Ravindra Jadeja claimed all four wickets but India’s bowling was marred by inconsistency – and some terrible reviews.
Khawaja said: “I played with my plans, tried to score when I saw a scoring opportunity and respected the good ball when it was there. It’s not rocket science to be honest.”
He added: “It wasn’t an easy wicket out there. It was spinning in the morning, it was spinning this afternoon. It felt pretty tough out there the whole time I was out there.”
Aussies miss TWO reviews in first over! | 01:53
Indian captain Rohit Sharma won his first toss of the series on Wednesday morning, electing to bat first at Holkar Cricket Stadium. Both sides made two changes to its starting XI, with Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green returning from injury for the Australians.
Steve Smith, replacing Pat Cummins as Australian captain for the third Test, was left red-faced after making two DRS blunders in the opening over of the match.
Starc’s first delivery of the series kissed the outside edge of Sharma’s bat, but Australia elected not to review after umpire Nitin Menon denied their appeals for caught behind.
Later that same over, Sharma was gifted a second reprieve when Starc got a delivery to swing past the inside edge and into his pads – once again, Australia elected not to review, with Hawkeye replays suggesting the ball would have crashed into off stump.
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Sharma and opening partner Shubman Gill combined for a 27-run partnership before the introduction of spin created the first breakthrough – the Indian skipper was stumped for 12 after charging down the pitch and missing a Kuhnemann delivery that turned past the outside edge.
Kuhnemann then removed Gill for 21 in his following over, with the Indian opener edging towards first slip where Smith held onto a low chance.
Lyon’s introduction brought about another breakthrough, albeit in farcical scenes — the Australian off-spinner’s flat delivery kept low and turned sideways, bowling a bamboozled Chesteshwar Pujara for 1.
Lyon thought he had unearthed another scalp after trapping Ravindra Jadeja on the pads for 4, with Menon awarding the dismissal, but a review showed there was a thin inside edge. However, the Australian tweaker didn’t have to wait long for his second wicket, with Jadeja slapping the next delivery directly towards Kuhnemann at cover.
The wickets continued tumbling at the other end as Shreyas Iyer chopped a Kuhnemann delivery that kept low back into his stumps, gone for a duck. India had suddenly lost 5-18 in about half an hour.
Virat Kohli and wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat stemmed the flow of wickets with a patient 25-run partnership for the sixth wicket, ensuring India bettered it shortest first innings in Test history.
Smith called for a review in the 17th over after Lyon was denied an LBW chance against Bharat, but Hawkeye suggested the ball was sliding down leg.
Todd Murphy joined the party a few overs later, removing Kohli for a third time in the series, dismissed LBW for 22. The Indian superstar called for a desperate review before walking back to the sheds after Hawkeye showed he was absolutely plumb.
‘This pitch is not up to Test standard’ | 01:54
Australia’s stand-in captain finally got a DRS call correct just before the lunch break, with Lyon trapping Bharat on the front pad for 17 – Menon’s not out decision was overturned following the review.
The spinners continued to work their magic after the interval — Ravichandran Ashwin was dismissed by Kuhnemann for 3 after feathering a catch through to the wicketkeeper, with Menon once again incorrectly calling not out before the decision was overturned by the third umpire.
Umesh Yadav signalled his intent early, slapping consecutive sixes to push India’s total above 100, but the swashbuckling tailender become Kuhnemann’s fifth victim not long after, gone for 17.
A collapse isn’t complete until there’s a run out, with Mohammed Siraj departing for a duck to wrap up the innings in 33.2 overs — the fewest overs taken for Australia to bowl out India in their own backyard.
Boom! Kuhnemann has India in all sorts | 01:24
AUSTRALIA’S FIRST INNINGS
The carnage continued after the innings break, with Jadeja removing Travis Head LBW for 9 in his first over of the Test, beating the left-hander’s inside edge.
The following over, Marnus Labuschagne (on zero at the time) chopped a short delivery back onto his stumps, only for umpire Joel Wilson to signal a front-foot no-ball, denying Jadeja his second scalp.
India was reckless with their reviews in the afternoon session, wasting two of them on ambitious LBW shouts against Usman Khawaja before the tea break.
Sharma’s DRS woes continued the following over when Ashwin struck Labuschagne on the pads, but the gun shy Indians elected not to review after their appeals were denied. Hawkeye replays suggest Labuschagne – then on 7 – was plumb.
Jadeja BURNS reviews after horror error | 03:07
Usman Khawaja and Labuschagne combined for a fifty-run partnership for the second wicket, ensuring no further damage was inflicted before the tea break. Their left-hand, right-hand combination rotated the strike brilliantly as India’s bowling was regularly too full.
Former Australian star Brad Haddin said in commentary at tea: “What we’ve seen in this session from the Indians is a little bit of panic … they’re just getting a little bit frustrated, the Indians. Australia has got to capitalise on that.”
After tea, Labuschagne – on 22 – received another slice of luck, with a thick outside edge off Ashwin striking the keeper’s pads and diverting to the boundary, rather than bouncing into the air for a catch.
India increasingly began to threaten, but Khawaja defended gamely and patiently brought up his half-century.
But Jadeja finally got his man for the fourth time this series, with Labuschagne stuck on his crease and having his stumps cleaned up. He departed for 31 off 91 and left Australia 2-108, just one run off India’s total. Labuschagne had not scored off the bat for 21 balls off Jadeja before the wicket.
The partnership nevertheless produced 96 runs, making it comfortably Australia’s highest partnership of the series so far.
Despite the wicket, Australia soon passed India’s first-innings total with eight wickets in hand, taking an 11-run lead by the time drinks arrived to signal the final hour of play.
However, having used the sweep very rarely throughout his innings – and only when the ball was on a leg-stump line – Khawaja attempted a sweep off Jadeja on a ball outside his off stump.
He failed to control it, and was caught in the deep by Shubman Gill, departing for 60 off 147 to leave Australia 3-125.
Jadeja had shifted to bowling over the wicket, a crucial change that precipitated Khawaja’s dismissal.
Steve Smith reached eight nine runs before India burned their third and final review, sending a decision upstairs after Jadeja rapped Smith’s pads – but the impact was outside the leg stump line and the ball clearly going down the leg side.
Smith received a lifeline on nine runs when an outside edge off Jadeja deflected into the pads of KS Bharat – but like Labuschagne’s similar chance earlier in the day, the ball fell only to safety.
Matthew Hayden said in commentary: “They have been a little inconsistent, all the Indian spinners today. They’ve ever been too full or too short. They were so good in the previous two Test matches, just honing in, bowling ball after ball, building pressure… The Indian spinners have been a bit all over the shop.”
But when Jadeja did land the ball in the right area, the Australians struggled to find the answers. The spinner snared his fourth of the innings when Smith (26) pushed forward but only managed an outside edge, well taken by Bharat behind the stumps.
That left Australia 4-146, and Handscomb and Green safely navigated the final overs to reach stumps.
Australia stuck with three strike spinners for the third Test, with Scott Boland missing out on a recall in Indore.
Cameron Green and Starc have returned from injury for David Warner and Pat Cummins, accompanying Lyon, Todd Murphy and Kuhnemann in the attack.
India also made two changes to its starting XI, with Shubman Gill and Umesh Yadav replacing KL Rahul and Mohammad Shami.
Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith (c), Peter Handscomb, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Matthew Kuhnemann
Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj
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