India’s wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha celebrates as Australia’s Peter Handscomb is bowled by Kuldeep Yadav on Day 1 of the fourth Test in Dharamsala on Saturday. AFP Kuldeep picks 4/68 on debut as Australia kept to 300 despite Smith’s 111; now Indian bats must fire26 Mar 2017 | 1:54 AM
DHARAMSALA:Yet another century from the Australian captain in India and a rare mystery spinner from the Subcontinent making a sensational entry into Test cricket spiced up the first day of the Dharamsala Test.[ + read story ]
Tribune News Service
Dharamsala, March 25
Yet another century from the Australian captain in India and a rare mystery spinner from the Subcontinent making a sensational entry into Test cricket spiced up the first day of the Dharamsala Test.
Once again Steve Smith’s dogged batting came to the fore and once again India fought back with a spinner spearheading the attack. But today, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took a backseat as India sprung a surprise in Kuldeep Yadav, an unheralded Chinaman bowler whose 4/68 forced the Aussies to tread with caution.
At the end of the day, India were 0/0 in the over they faced, after bowling Australia out for 300, a total that could have been much bigger but for Yadav’s intervention. The team’s second Yadav, pace bowler Umesh, took 2/69.
Australia were racing at 131/1 after the first session, but they had no inkling that Kuldeep Yadav’s guile would leave them jittery at 208/6 in the second session. Having reached 300 after that, the last four wickets adding 92, Australia must be relieved at getting to a respectable total. Apart from Smith’s 111, half-centuries by David Warner and Matthew Wade ensured that Australia, despite losing their last nine wickets for 169, can begin the second day on a sprightly note.
Short of length
India paid the price of bowling short and wide in the first session, expecting to take the wickets by bouncing out the Australians.
Also, the left-right combination of Warner and Smith was fortunate that on several occasions, the ball flew off the edges of their bats, but out of the reach of the close catchers. In fact, Warner had got a life off the very first ball of the innings, Karun Nair in the slip cordon spilling a one-handed catch to his left.
The Indians tried out the fuller length too, in the hope of cashing in on the seaming conditions. In the second session, Yadav turned out to be the gamechanger as the hosts choked the flow of runs.
India go all-out
Yadav’s debut on a seaming wicket is explained by India’s desperation for an all-out attack in the series-decider. It is with this intention that India went into the game with five bowlers, including Bhuvneshwar Kumar in place of Ishant Sharma. India will trust their openers Murali Vijay and KL Rahul to negotiate the first session cautiously and then go for the runs on a pitch that has cracks but is still is conducive for strokeplay.
Kohli does a Ronaldo
It was a flashback of the final of Euro 2016, when Cristiano Ronaldo manned the sidelines to guide Portugal to a win over France. Kohli, a self-confessed admirer of the football star, did something similar in Dharamsala today.
Out with an injury, the Indian captain made sure that the team did not feel his absence in the crucial series-decider. Three times he made an entry into the field and held discussions with his teammates. He first came on the field after the fifth ball of the sixth over, when play was halted as the ball had gone out of shape. Kohli ran on to the field with drinks and had a quick chat with his bowlers before running back to the dressing room.
After Kuldeep Yadav got his first wicket, Kohli ran up to him, again with the drinks, to congratulate the spinner and remind him of the plan the team had made for him. “It felt very encouraging to see the captain run up to me and have a word with me,” Yadav later said.
During the lunch break, Kohli participated in a warm-up session along with off-spinner Jayant Yadav, much to the delight of the spectators.