1st Test: Renshaw, Starc shine for Aussies
PUNE, 23rd FEB: Matt Renshaw and Mitchell Starc struck half-centuries as Australia attempted a late recovery on the opening day of the first Test against India at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Thursday. Renshaw, the youngest Australian to bag a half-century in a Test against India, had retired hurt with an upset stomach in the morning session before returning to score 68 runs. The 20-year-old struck 10 boundaries and a six before edging off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to second slip where Murali Vijay pulled off an excellent catch.
Starc smashed a qucikfire half-century and was unbeaten on 57 runs from 58 balls at stumps with fellow pacer Josh Hazlewood giving him company with one run off 31 deliveries. Australia were on 256/9 at the end of the first day's play. Striding to the middle with the Australians tottering at 205/9, Starc slammed five boundaries and three sixes to raise an undefeated 51-run last-wicket stand with Hazlewood to take the visitors past the 250-run mark.
Fast Bowler Umesh Yadav was the most successful among the Indian bowlers with figures of 4/32. Ashwin and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja returned 2/59 and 2/74 respectively while rookie off-spinner Jayant Yadav also bagged a wicket. Opting to bat first on winning the toss, the Australians struggled on a pitch which offered quite a bit of turn right from the start.
Renshaw and fellow opener David Warner, however, did well to produce an opening stand of 82 runs before pacer Umesh Yadav bowled the latter with an excellent delivery to strike the first blow for India. The ball pitched slightly outside Warner's off-stump and turned in sharply, taking the inside edge before crashing into the stumps. Renshaw retired hurt in the very next ball with an upset stomach as the visitors lost the early momentum built up by their opening duo.
The hosts gained the upper hand with three quick wickets in the second session. Shaun Marsh (16) was sent packing in the 47th over by spinner Jayant Yadav with the scoreboard reading 119/2. Peter Handscomb (22) and Australian skipper Steven Smith tried to hold the innings but the former was trapped leg before by Jadeja.
Things got worse for the visitors when Smith, who scored 27 off 95 balls, was dismissed in the next over by Ashwin which left Australia struggling at 149/4. The Indian bowlers continued to strike at regular intervals and seemed set to put an end to the visitors' first innings before the close of the day's play. However, Starc thwarted the hosts with his fiery strokeplay and restored some respectability to the Australian score.