Nathan Lyon was the hero early on day two of the Delhi Test against India, snaring five wickets in a destructive spell on Saturday.
But India fought back to trail by just one run heading into the second innings after a great lower order fightback in the Second Test.
Now Australia has been dealt an early setback, with Usman Khawaja falling for just six runs after trying to play a paddle sweep shot which Ravi Shastri described as a “nothing shot” in commentary.
It went straight to Shreyas Iyer who caught the ball as India got the early breakthrough, with Australia now 59-1 after 11 overs with Travis Head (38) and Marnus Labuschagne (15) at the crease.
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It comes after India’s Axar Patel hammered a counter-attacking 74 before Australia bowled out the hosts for 262 with Lyon returning figures of 5-67 on an intense day two of the second Test.
It was skipper Pat Cummins late on day two who struck to help dismiss both of India’s “beyond annoying” heavy hitters to break their eighth-wicket century stand.
Cummins pulled in a ripping catch to send Axar Patel on his way for 74.
It came just minutes after recalled star Matt Renshaw – only on the field as replacement for the injured David Warner, hung on to a tough chance with a full stretch effort to give Cummins his first scalp of the Test.
“What a way to get out!” commentator Mark Waugh said of Ravi Ashwin’s departure for 37.
“Matt Renshaw takes a really sharp chance there at square leg.
Kohli FUMES at DRS as debutant strikes | 02:09
“That’s a good catch – good reach. Late in the day, he hangs onto it.
“Gee the Aussies needed that one.”
Together with Patel, Ashwin had dragged India back into the Second Test when it looked like the home side would be staring down a 100-run plus first innings deficit, after Lyon simply “ran riot” early.
But the duo put on a 114-run stand to all but diminish Australia’s lead.
“I think it’s actually gone beyond annoying,” commentator Matthew Hayden said of the eighth-wicket stand.
“To come back this far… (India) were staring down the barrel of 100 (run deficit) on a deteriorating wicket.”
“The ship was like the Titanic – it was heading for the iceberg,” Waugh later added.
“But they’ve moved to calmer waters.”
Matt Kuhnemann claimed the final wicket of India’s innings, to leave them all out for 262.
Australia wasted all of their reviews early on day two, getting their morning off to a horror start.
Kuhnemann struck Sharma on the pad in the 14th over, but Hawkeye suggested the ball was comfortably sliding down leg.
Aus BURN all 3 reviews early on Day 2! | 03:37
“These reviews are going to be crucial,” Mark Waugh said in commentary.
“It didn’t look right by the naked eye … it always looked like it was missing.”
The Aussies used up another review the following over when skipper Pat Cummins got a delivery to nip back into Rahul, flying off his pad towards the slip cordon.
Believing there may have been an edge, Australia called for another review, but replays showed Rahul’s bat was nowhere near the ball.
However, the Australians were left gun shy later that over when Lyon struck Cheteshwar Pujara, playing his 100th Test, on the front pad, but elected not to call for the review.
In a disastrous twist, Pujara indeed would have been back in the sheds for a duck if Australia had reviewed the decision, with Hawkeye suggesting the Indian No. 3 was plumb LBW.
Despite the trio of DRS blunders, Lyon continued to work his magic, removing Sharma for 32 with a beauty that beat the outside edge and crashed into middle stump.
It was fourth time’s the charm for Australia with the DRS — in the 20th over, Pujara was given not out after Lyon got the ball to flick his front pad, with Cummins quickly signalling for a review.
On this occasion, finally, Australia got it right, and Pujara was gone for a duck.
“Nathan Lyon is running riot,” Indian legend Ravi Shastri said in commentary.
But even after Lyon’s early heroics, Australia continued to shoot themselves in the foot after throwing away their final review during Todd Murphy’s first over of the match,
The momentary disappointment though quickly faded as Handscomb, who starred with the bat late for Australia on day one, then took a sensational catch at short leg to dismiss Shreyas Iyer.
“Has he taken it? This is a brilliant, brilliant catch,” Harsha Bhogle said in commentary.
“It will go down on the scoresheet as the bowler’s wicket but this is almost completely short leg’s catch and I think there’s almost a touch of disbelief on face of Shreyas Iyer as he walks back.”
Waugh continued: “So there should be, that is an absolutely unbelievable catch from Peter Handscomb.
“Don’t worry about the reviews, just take a catch like that. He stayed down, he got lucky didn’t he as it hit him on the forearm and then he had the presence to keep watching the ball. “It rolled up his arm and into his hands, that is a big, big dismissal.”
Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja set about rescuing India, combining for a 59-run partnership to stem the flow of wickets and halt Lyon’s rampage.
But Murphy returned in the afternoon session to break the stand, wrapping Jadeja on the pads to send the all-rounder back to the pavilion for 26. Jadeja wasted a review before his departure.
Kuhnemann snared his maiden Test wicket in the 50th over, and it was none other than King Kohli.
Umpire Nitin Menon raised the dreaded finger after Kohli was struck on the pad, but the Indian superstar quickly called for a review. However, despite his bat and front pad making contact with the ball almost simultaneously, Kohli was given his matching orders after Hawkeye suggested the delivery would have clipped leg stump.
He was clearly unhappy with the decision, shaking his head in the sheds.
Lyon returned to secure his five-wicket haul, with KS Bharat botching a sweep shot that looped over the wicketkeeper’s head and caught by Steve Smith.
It was his eighth five-wicket haul against India in Tests, an all-time record.
Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin began to mount a counterattack, combining for a fifty-run partnership for the eighth wicket to slowly chip away at the deficit.
Australia’s frustration grew in the 64th over when Smith missed a tough chance off Lyon’s bowling at first slip, giving Patel an extra life on 28.
Warner ruled out of the second Test | 01:41
EARLIER: WARNER RULED OUT IN ‘MASSIVE STORY’ FOR AUSSIES
Australia has ruled opener David Warner out of the remainder of the second Test against India due to concussion.
Warner was struck in the head during a barrage of short balls in the first innings, but did not undergo a concussion test before being dismissed caught behind for 15. He did not take to the field with his teammates after India bowled Australia out on the opening day in Delhi.
The 36-year-old has subsequently been ruled out of the Test, with Matthew Renshaw taking the veteran’s place as a concussion substitute.
Renshaw made scores of zero and two in the first Test before being dropped for the second Border-Gavaskar Trophy clash, but now has a golden opportunity to make amends for those failures.
Allan Border said on Fox Cricket: “That’s huge news. Apparently David’s alright, but just obviously showing signs of concussion … he hasn’t come up well.”
Michael Hussey continued: “It’s huge news, it’s a massive story that. It’s in the rules that they are allowed to replace him, so that’s a big bonus for Australia.”
The hosts reached 0-21 at stumps on the opening day after gritty half-centuries from Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb guided Australia to a fighting 263.
Warner, who scored one and 10 in Nagpur in the first Test, was the first Aussie batter to go on Friday after taking 21 balls to score the first runs of his innings.
He had faced a barrage of short balls by seamer Mohammed Siraj and took a couple of blows — on the elbow and, most notably, the back of the helmet — before he was out caught behind thanks to a peach of a delivery from Mohammad Shami.
Warner then did not come out to field when it was India’s turn to bat.
He didn’t have a concussion test after taking a hit to the helmet, but Khawaja said his fellow opener felt “weary” after the hit on the head.
“The medical staff will have to figure out what happens from here on in,” he said after the opening day concluded.
Australia worked with spin right from the second over of India’s innings, with debutant Matthew Kuhnemann and Nathan Lyon bowling six overs between them. Fellow off-spinner Todd Murphy wasn’t introduced into the attack on the first day.
Captain Pat Cummins was, remarkably, the only fast bowler named in Australia’s XI for the second Test after selectors bravely opted for three specialist spin bowlers. All-rounder Cameron Green was unavailable for selection due to injury, with Travis Head returning for Renshaw.
Rahul’s BLINDER robs Khawaja of a ton | 00:51
But Shami, who took four wickets while spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja had three each, said India’s fast bowlers knew the conditions well and the pitch was not necessarily suited for spinners.
“We get drilled into our heads that Indian pitches are slow and not for fast bowlers,” he said.
“It’s a good weapon if the short ball is used. Bouncer is a good option.”
The second Test will resume on Saturday, with the first ball due to be bowled at 3pm (AEDT).
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