India get a taste of their own medicine as Australia spin in modest lead | Australian cricket team

eator one day, at least, the tables turned. At this point Australia’s tour of India had been marked for the visitors by two collapses under spin control: one when the first Test was almost over, the next when the second Test was very much in their grasp. To start the third match in Indore, however, with one last chance to stay in the series, the Australians found themselves in a position to run away from India, India.

A couple of early wickets, a pitch as quiet as Gary Busey after midnight, and suddenly there were shrieks from the home side instead of their hapless visitors. The first nine wickets fell spinning until the maddened run-out on 109. Australia’s reply also encountered difficulty but reached stumps with six wickets in hand and a lead of 47 that could be worth a lot more than it sounds .

The opening exchanges looked like the match would go the other way. Rohit Sharma has been India’s best batsman on spin pitches in recent years. Mitchell Starc returning from injury sent the new ball at full pace and online. His first ball edged Rohit to the keeper. His quarter hit the pad in front of the off stump. It was neither given nor revised, both of which would have been overturned.

Usually when a team is out of contention, missing one or two small chances is the end. The other team leaves. As Rohit and Shubman Gill responded with six boundaries in the next 23 balls, hitting Starc and Cameron Green off the offside, that script was playing out. Until the spin in the sixth over changed everything.

He trusted Matthew Kuhnemann first, having opened in both innings on debut last week in Delhi. The left-arm spinner was picked for accuracy, but it was the variety that brought him into the game, rushing Rohit before slowing the last ball of the over. Rohit jumped out and aimed for the blue and yellow bucket seats of Indore. In most cases it would be pretty close to the ballpark. Here it curled wildly past its edge, keeper Alex Carey took it over his shoulder but still had time for the off stump.

Suddenly the gout of dirt thrown off a delivery in the first over had more of an impact on the match than the missed chances. Starc hit another one. The subtlest of turns from Kuhnemann led to Gill’s edge to Smith. The opening partnership of 27 had become two for 34. Nathan Lyon immediately replaced Starc, with spin at both ends.

Todd Murphy celebrates taking the wicket of Virat Kohli.
Todd Murphy celebrates taking the wicket of Virat Kohli. Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Already the balls had swerved, stayed under or bounced off a length far more extreme on the first day than the surfaces at Nagpur or Delhi. Cheteshwar Pujara was equally leaping in a way that belied his Test 101, stepping back to force Lyon into a four after three balls. Instead, he lost his stumps to one that fell so low that it redefined grassroots cricket. Ravindra Jadeja’s rise to No.5 has come and gone, hitting Lyon at short cover.

Shreyas Iyer tossed the bat wide, going under the off stump with just enough touch to clear a bail. Kuhnemann had three, India were 45-5. After managing the conditions better than anyone for 22 from a partnership of 25, Virat Kohli met his mini nemesis Todd Murphy, the third man who took an off-break from around the wicket, hitting Kohli in the air and turning it around. to hit the pad past its inside edge while going fairly straight for the leg stump.

It was the point of the innings where India’s lower middle-order usually bowled them out, but the all-rounders had to fail with the bat eventually. Two smart reviews found wicketkeeper KS Bharat lbw in Lyon, despite the big step, and then Ravichandran Ashwin picking out a pearl from Kuhnemann. The left-hander’s fifth came after Umesh Yadav collected a couple of sixes, before being hit so specifically in front that he went straight away with one wicket to spare and two reviews in hand.

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Seeing India unravel, Australia’s reply was not without nerves about handling the conditions themselves, especially after Travis Head went for nine. But a combination of Usman Khawaja’s otherworldly skill and Marnus Labuschagne’s otherworldly luck put together 96. Khawaja was unlucky in his 60s, playing with the softest of hands. Labuschagne was bowled a no-ball, not out on an unexamined lbw, and fell by the wicketkeeper on his way to 31.

For the first time in the series, with an anxious eye on the scoreboard, Ashwin and Jadeja attacked. Over-pitching that delivers runs or safe defense. Jadeja chipped away to drop all four wickets, with Steve Smith trailing for 26 before stumps. Smith played the line of the ball decisively, as he had successfully done in 2017, but was unlucky as he took his lead instead of beating it.

With Australia’s modest lead, normal service could resume on day two with India wrapping them up. Or if Peter Handscomb and Cameron Green survive an hour or two, Australia’s advantage could be decisive. Either way, like Pune in 2017, India got a taste of what it’s like to play India. These spinning pitches can’t always break in your favor.