Feb 25, 2017
By MI Media
The highly-anticipated first Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy was held in Pune which became India’s 25th Test venue. The visitors won the toss and Steven Smith didn’t hesitate to bat first. Australia got off to a promising start as they added 82 runs for the first wicket. Umesh Yadav then provided the breakthrough for India eventually when he dismissed David Warner. Soon after, Matthew Renshaw was retired ill with an upset stomach. Australia started losing wickets thereafter as the Indian spinners then came to the party. Renshaw came out to bat and hit a crucial fifty. Mitchell Starc’s lusty blows towards the end helped Australia cross the 250-run mark. Umesh Yadav was the hero for India on the first day after picking up four crucial wickets. India could have bowled better, as the pitch was taking spin early on. On day 2, Ashwin wasted no time picking up the final wicket to bowl Australia out for 260.
A good opening partnership was the need of the hour, but India failed to establish one. Josh Hazlewood dismissed Murali Vijay to give Australia the opening they needed. Starc then removed Pujara and Kohli for a duck and India were in trouble. Just after lunch on day 2, Rahul decided to play a lofted shot but miscued it after his fifty. It then opened the floodgates as India collapsed. Steve O’Keefe spun a web around the home side, and grabbed a 6-fer to bowl India out cheaply for 105.
Australia thus managed a healthy lead of 155 runs in the first innings on a track which was getting progressively harder to bat on. India wasted no time and started with their lead spinners – Ashwin and Jadeja. The hosts had to fight back hard and they were able to take early wickets, reducing the visitors to 61/3. Despite wickets falling from one end, Steven Smith managed to hold the innings together. The Australian skipper was riding his luck as he was dropped four times and could have been out LBW, had India opted to use their reviews wisely. Smith struck his 18th Test ton and posted his highest score in India, in the process. The Australian middle order chipped in with some useful contributions, resulting in Australia setting India an unlikely 441 runs for victory. Ashwin picked up four wickets but went at more than 4 runs an over. Jadeja finished with three wickets while Umesh Yadav got two.
With time not an issue, India were under the pump from the outset, being reduced to 47/3, with captain Kohli’s match aggregate of 13 runs being his personal lowest in a home Test. India simply failed to string together partnerships of note. The Australian spinners – Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe – were sensational and ran through the Indian batting order. O’Keefe finished with identical figures in the second innings to win the Man of the Match Award. The slow left-arm orthodox bowler now holds the record for best bowling figures by an Australian bowler in India after taking 12/70 in the match.
India can take this game as a reality check as their 19-match unbeaten streak at home comes to an end. They had an off game and will look to come back hard in the second Test in Bangalore, starting in exactly a week’s time. Australia, on the other hand will celebrate this unlikely, but remarkable victory. There are three Test matches to go and the remaining games promise us thrilling action.
12/70 by Steve O’Keefe, best bowling figures by a spinner in India in Tests.
333 runs – Second biggest Test defeat for India at home in terms of runs.