Australia scored 59 runs and lost five wickets in a session as India seized the initiative on Day One of the fourth Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla. After being at a comfortable 94 for two at lunch, Australia crumbled to 153 for seven by the time tea was taken, as India’s spin demons took over.
All five wickets to fall in the second session were shared between spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, which was in sharp contrast to the two that fell to pacer Ishant Sharma in the morning session.
Ed Cowan was the first to go in the afternoon. After a gritty knock of 38, the left-handed batsman was bowled around the legs by Ashwin. The off-spinner, bowling over the wicket to the left-hander, pitched the incoming delivery outside off. Cowan went for the sweep, but failed to get in line with the ball and saw his stumps being dislodged.
Ravindra Jadeja, who didn't get a bowl at all in the first session, then came in and the decision reaped dividends immediately for skipper MS Dhoni. The slow left-armer got the big wicket of Shane Watson (17) in his second over itself. Jadeja's delivery, pitching on middle, spun sharply and beat the bat of the advancing Watson, who was playing for the straight one. The ball beat the Australian stand-in captain and was snapped up by his counterpart behind the sticks, who swiftly knocked over the bails. Watson was a mile out and had to walk back after scoring just 17.
Matthew Wade did not last long either. The wicket-keeper batsman leaned forward to defend against Ashwin, but the ball clipped the edge and was pocketed by Murali VIjay at forward short leg.
Glenn Maxwell then became the next casualty to fall to spin, albeit it was the 24-year-old's impatience that got the better of him. Maxwell tried to slog Jadeja over long-on, but could only hole out to Ishant, strategically poised at mid-on.
If you still have doubts whether India would get a bat today, they were all but cast aside as Ashwin castled Mitchell Johnson (3) with the carom ball. Johnson almost refused to believe that the ball had taken the off-stump after pitching outside off. But he had to go back as Steven Smith continued to run out of partners. Australia were down to 136 for seven, after being 71 for one at one point, and were staring at a sub-200 total.
Earlier, Australia were 94 for two at lunch after winning the toss and electing to bat first on a pitch that is crumbling by the over. Even though the Kotla pitch is conducive to spin bowling with its constantly increasing cracks, pacer Ishant Sharma got both wickets to fall in the morning for the hosts.
In only the second over of the day, Ishant got David Warner to reach out to a widish delivery and found a thick edge that carried to Virat Kohli at second slip. It wasn’t the start Australia would have wanted, especially after electing to bat first.
Phil Hughes then walked out with a positive intent and took the attack to the Indians straight away. He hit seven boundaries to race to 25 off just 21 balls, before slowing down a bit. Along with fellow left-hander Ed Cowan, Hughes steadied Australia's ship and the duo were looking good for a big partnership.
MS Dhoni soon got his spin bowlers into the mixture, but Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha could not do much to destabilise the Australian pair. Eventually, it was Ishant who did the damage again as he got Hughes (45) to drag his delivery onto the stumps in the 21st over of the innings. India were back in this as stand-in captain Shane Watson walked out at No 4.
The 31-year-old from Queensland was coming from a remarkable week which began with his suspension from the third Test for failing to turn in a presentation. Watson had flown back to Australia to witness the birth of his first child, before flying back in time for the Delhi Test. In a swift reversal of fortune, Watson was named the incumbent Michael Clarke's replacement as skipper after the latter pulled out of the match due to a back injury.
Brief Scores: Australia 153 for 7 (Phil Hughes 45; Ravichandran Ashwin 3 for 33, Ravindra Jadeja 2 for 17, Ishant Sharma 2 for 22) vs India.
First Published: March 22, 2013, 2:14 pm