Bowlers dominate Aus before Gill, Pujara shine


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With the Indian bowlers once again stealing the show, it was a test of facing 11 overs of quality pace bowling for the batsmen in the closing stages of the opening day of the Boxing Day Test between India and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday. While Shubman Gill came out with flying colours, having hit an unbeaten 38-ball 28, Mayank Agarwal failed to stand up and get counted as he fell for a duck.

At stumps, India’s score read 36/1 with Gill batting on 28 and Cheteshwar Pujara giving him company on 7. The visitors trail by 159 runs with nine wickets in the bag. For Australia, it was Mitchell Starc who picked the lone wicket to finish the day with figures of 1/14 from four overs. Pat Cummins bowled without luck to finish wicketless despite bowling four fiery overs.

But it was the Indian bowlers who once again showed why they are considered one of the best in the business at present. With Tim Paine winning the toss and batting first at the MCG, the hosts would have thought of putting on a decent score on the board. But led by Jasprit Bumrah (4/56), the Indians made short work of the Australian batting as they finished their first essay on 195.

While Bumrah picked four, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was once again in his elements as he picked three wickets, including the all-important wicket of batting mainstay Steve Smith.

Australia got off to the worst possible start as Bumrah dismissed Joe Burns for a ten-ball duck in the fifth over. Marnus Labuschagne then joined Mathew Wade in the middle and the duo tried to stitch the innings for the hosts as both batsmen saw off the early spell of Bumrah and Umesh Yadav.

However, Ashwin dismissed Wade (30) – caught brilliantly by Ravindra Jadeja. In his next over, Ashwin dismissed Smith for a duck to put visitors in the driving seat. With Australia in trouble on 38/3, Labuschagne and Travis Head played cautiously and took the team over the 100-run mark in the 38th over.

Head then picked the tempo and smashed Bumrah for back-to-back boundaries. But just when it looked like the duo would bring Australia back in the game, Bumrah spoiled the party for hosts. The Indian pacer dismissed Head (38) to end an 86-run stand for the fourth wicket.

Just before the concluding minutes of the second session, debutant Mohammad Siraj dismissed Labuschagne, who was just two runs short of completing his half-century. Tim Paine and Cameron Green then took the field. Siraj struck again in the last session as Green (12) was given LBW, reducing Australia to 155/6. The fall of wickets did not stop as Ashwin and Bumrah got hold of Paine and Mitchell Starc respectively, putting the hosts under pressure.

Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon looked to make some quick runs by using the long handle to good effect, but the Indian bowlers kept applying the pressure and took their chances to ensure that the last three didn’t manage to pile the agony on the Indians.

Brief Scores: Australia 195 (Labuschagne 48, Head 38; Bumrah 4/56); India 36/1 (Gill 28; Starc 1/14) (ANI)

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