India have a chance to create history by winning the Adelaide Test to become the first Indian side to win the opening Test in Australia. @ Twitter/ICC
India have a chance to create history by winning the Adelaide Test to become the first Indian side to win the opening Test in Australia. @ Twitter/ICC

Adelaide: India have the upper hand in the first Test against Australia and that word – ‘favourites’ – is back on their side as Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Shami’s two wickets apiece have left Australia four down for 104, still 219 runs to be chased on a turning Adelaide pitch.

At stumps, Shaun Marsh and Australia’s highest run-scorer in the first dig, Travis Head were at the crease trying to weather the Indian bowling attack. Australia will have to rewrite history books as the only successful fourth innings Test run chase of more than 300 at Adelaide came in 1902, when the hosts made 315 to beat England. The biggest on the ground in modern times was 239 in 1982, when the West Indies managed the feat.

India, too, have a chance to create history by winning the first Test to become the first Indian team to win the opening Test in Australia.

Set with a 323-run target courtesy Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s 87-run partnership for the fourth wicket, a stiff one, but by no means impossible, Australia began well before Aaron Finch almost missed being dismissed for a pair with Ishant Sharma’s leg before appeal given out by Kumar Dharamsena.

ALSO READ: For the first time, Cheteshwar Pujara scores century and fifty in same Test

However, on the brink of tea, Finch, who added 11, was dismissed by Ashwin after Pant took a catch behind, but he should have reviewed it with replays showing no glove. Debutant Marcus Harris followed his opening partner after going for a nothing shot outside off to give Mohammed Shami his first wicket. The 26-year-old Harris, was dismissed for an identical score of 26, similar to his first innings. Usman Khawaja took time to settle down, but squandered the opportunity before he was picked by Ashwin with Rohit Sharma taking a beauty at deep extra cover.

Peter Handscomb was looking good, but ended up chipping one to Pujara at midwicket after Shami cramped him for room with a well-directed short delivery.

ALSO READ: Allan Border cautions against dropping Aaron Finch down the order

Hopes will be pinned on Marsh, who finally looks settled and Head, quite comfortable at the crease after spending hours in the first innings.

Ashwin returned with figures of 2/44 in his 19 overs going at a miserly economy rate of 2.31, while Shami went for 15 runs in his nine overs at 1.66.

Earlier, resuming their innings at 151/3, India added 109 runs in the first session. The partnership between Pujara and Rahane was broken by some exceptional bowling from Nathan Lyon, who picked the big wicket of India’s first innings centurion Pujara, departing to a standing ovation from the Adelaide crowd for his 71. Rohit Sharma added just 1 to depart to Lyon, who was the pick of the bowlers with six wickets.

Rahane, who brought up a fine half-century off 111 balls, his 16th in Tests, was joined by Rishabh Pant, who smashed three consecutive fours and a six off Lyon in one over. However, Australia’s strike bowler had his man in his next over after Pant tried to heave one, but ended up getting caught by Finch at deep cover point. Pant departed after a nice little cameo scoring a 16-ball 28.

India’s batting post-lunch session was questionable coming out with an aggressive intent right at the start, with the lead just kissing the 300-run mark. Their intent seemed to have backfired as Australia snapped three wickets in the space of seven balls to clip the Indian innings, looking to extend their lead to around 350.

Lyon got Rahane, who tried to reverse sweep it, only to find Starc at backward point. He then had Shami for a duck, but Jasprit Bumrah defended it well to deny Lyon his hat-trick.

Starc got the final wicket of Ishant Sharma, who tried to defend a short one, but ended up giving Finch an easy catch at short-leg.

For Australia, Lyon ended with exceptional figures of 6 for 122, while Starc, who was off colour, picked three wickets going for 40 runs.

Brief scores: Australia 235 & 104/4 in 49 overs (Shaun Marsh 31, Travis Head 11) require another 219 runs to win against India 250 & 307 (Cheteshwar Pujara 71, Ajinkya Rahane 70; Nathan Lyon 6/122, Mitchell Starc 3/40)