AFP
AFP

Australia went in to lunch at 109 for 3 in the third of the four-Test series at Ranchi, courtesy India‘s collective bowling effort. The visitors got carried away in the first ever Test match in MS Dhoni’s home town. Barring skipper Steven Smith, they lost their top-order batsmen, finding themselves in a spot of bother. However, had Mitchell Starc not picked up an injury, Pat Cummins would not have featured in Australia’s 800th Test. It, in fact, was unfair for Jackson Bird to have been benched yet again despite being a part of the team ever since their rigorous training sessions in UAE. On the other hand, Glenn Maxwell made a comeback, replacing injured Starc’s namesake Marsh. In other good news, Murali Vijay is back to his full fitness, donning India’s Test cap for the 50th time. Full cricket scorecard: India vs Australia, 3rd Test

By all means, Cummins is unlikely to bear fruits on his rather feather-bed of a track, as Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav conceded 37 off 7 overs between them after Smith called it right at the toss and expectedly decided to bat first. For a change, Matt Renshaw’s first five boundaries did not come off edges, like it did in Bengaluru. Three of his fours were hit on the leg side, one past gully, and one pushed through covers. The slowness and lowness of the track did not provide any excitement to the Indian pace duo. To make matters worse, they failed to maintain their line against the southpaws. By the looks of it, those would have been difficult deliveries for the right-handers to survive.

Anyway, Virat Kohli introduced Ravichandran Ashwin in the seventh over. He perhaps thought the pacers would do better as the ball ages, and such has been the norm in the modern-day cricket. Nevertheless, Renshaw treated Ashwin the same way he dealt with the pacers. He creamed a half-volley past short cover. David Warner, on the other end, had played a delightful punch. The track, in all likelihood, was on the batsmen’s side, suggesting the scorers will be busy scaling up the runs column. Full cricket updates: India vs Australia, 3rd Test, Day 1

It was about time Ravindra Jadeja shared the ball with his senior spinner. He, however, was victimised as well. Warner square-drove a full and wide delivery. It appeared Indians were no close to drawing first blood. But Warner played an uncharacteristic stroke, justifying his terrible form overseas. He holed out a juicy full toss straight to Jadeja. The ball seemed to have drifted a little at the last moment. Warner lost control over his grip. His bat wobbled, failing to keep the ball down.

All the same, the outfield was lightening fast. By the time the fielder decided to slide at the boundary line, it raced past him. Renshaw and No. 3 Smith made full use of it. Despite losing Warner, the pair kept the scoreboard ticking showing no signs of being bogged down.

Ashwin drifted the ball and induced a leading edge off Renshaw, but fortune favoured the Australian opener. Smith, meanwhile, played the ball late, and nature of the track allowed him so. Apart from a couple of LBW appeals, Australian batsmen looked comfortable at the crease.

20 overs later, Umesh was handed the ball. He hid the ball during the run-up, not giving slightest of ideas as to which way is the shiny side. The slip cordon had been standing low to cling on whatever come their way. Umesh probed Renshaw outside off. A ball later, the probing took an outside edge to Kohli at first-slip. The bowling change worked wonders, and India were back in the contest. From other end, Ashwin was already in his second spell, waiting for his first scalp. From drifting the ball to tossing it up outside off, he had laid the trap. Shaun Marsh, who scored a resilient fifty in the last Test, failed to continue his good form and inside-edged one to Cheteshwar Pujara at forward short-leg. From 50 for 0, Australia were reduced to 89 for 3 before lunch.

Brief scores:

Australia 109 for 3 (Matt Renshaw 44, Steven Smith 34*; Ravindra Jadeja 1 for 22) vs India.

Full scorecard