1st Test : Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin star as India thrash Australia by innings and 132 runs
Nagpur : India capitalised on the fear of spin in the minds of the Australian batters on a spin-friendly wicket, to bowl them out for 91, their lowest total in India and second lowest ever, winning the first Test by an innings and 132 run defeat in the first Test at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium here on Saturday.
India thus took a 1-0 lead in the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy series, setting themselves for the 3-0 win they need to comfortably seal their Berth in the World Test Championships Final to be held later this year at the Oval in London.
Ravichandran Ashwin bowled a devastating spell of 12 overs to claim 5 wickets for 37 runs as India bowled out Australia within a session after Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and Mohammed had helped the hosts reach 400 runs in their first innings, adding some quick runs in the morning session, giving India a lead of 223 runs.
However, Ravindra Jadeja was the star of India’s memorable win as he shone both with the ball and bat to single-handedly put Australia under pressure.
Jadeja, making a comeback from a knee injury after a five-month break, claimed 5-47 in their first innings and then scored 70 runs, sharing crucial partnerships of 61 runs with skipper Rohit Sharma, who scored a majestic 120, and 84 runs for the eighth wicket with Axar Patel (84) as India handed Australia a comprehensive defeat.
Skipper Rohit Sharma had set the tone for India’s dominance with a brilliant century, starting aggressively and then buckling down to tackle the Australian spinners, grinding out the bowling.
India had added 79 runs in the morning session to set Australia the target of scoring a minimum of 224 runs to make them bat again. But the Australians, who were out for 177 in their first innings, fared even poorly in the second essay as they succumbed too easily with their batters coming up with a spineless performance.
Ashwin bowled his overs from the North End of the ground and in 50-odd balls had the Australians reeling to their lowest-ever score in India. The previous lowest score for Australia was 93 they scored in 2004.
Australia were bowled out in less than a session, their innings lasting 32.3 overs and lasted just 131 minutes. Ashwin, who claimed his 450th wicket in the first innings, recorded his 31st five-for as the Australian batters failed to read his bowling and went back to the pavilion in a procession.
Steve Smith remained not out on 25 as only four Australian batsmen managed to reach double figures in a disastrous batting display. At one time they were looking to get out for the lowest score at the VCA Stadium, Jamtha — 79 scored by South Africa in 2017.
Ashwin claimed the wicket of Usman Khawaja (5) caught by Kohli as he was deceived by the turn, trapped David Warner (10) lbw with one that stayed low, caught Matt Renshaw plumb in front of the wicket with another one that stayed low and got Peter Handscomb lbw, hitting the front pad around the knee roll.
Alex Cary played a premeditated reverse sweep and missed the line totally to be hit on the back pad as Ashwin destroyed the Australian batting. Ravindra Jadeja, who had claimed 5-47 in the first innings, bagged 2 for 34 while Mohammed Shami claimed 3-13 from five overs as he wiped out the tail.
The Australians had come to India well-prepared for playing spin bowling. They had a camp at Sydney and Alur, near Bengaluru, where they got pitches tailor-made to what they perceived they would face in India.
Their batsmen were given extensive practice for a sweep and reverse sweep shots and it was apparent from their two innings in the first Test that they were told to go for sweep or reverse sweep against the spinners as much as possible.
Their batters played pre-determined shots in the first innings and the innings folded for 177. They did not learn much from that debacle and went about in the same manner in the second innings, playing the ball for what they thought it would do and not what it was actually doing.
With the wicket offering a slow turn and low bounce, the Aussie batsmen had to use their feet and get to the ball to negate the lbw getting into the equation, which they couldn’t do so and crashed to a huge defeat.
Earlier in the morning, the Indian lower-order batters continued to plunder runs as the hosts scored 400 in their first innings, taking 223-run lead which eventually proved enough.
Ravindra Jadeja was out for 70 but Axar Patel raised 84 and Mohammed Shami slammed 37 as the last three wickets contributed 160 runs to the Indian total.
Resuming at the overnight score of 321/7, the Indians added 79 runs to their total on the third morning with Axar Patel and Mohammed Shami raising 52 runs for the ninth wicket after Patel and Ravindra Jadeja had capitalised on the platform provided by skipper Rohit Sharma on the second day with a magnificent century.
Shami went for his runs in the morning session. He got down to one knee and hoicked Murphy over square midwicket for a six and also square-cut Nathan Lyon for a four past the backward point fielder.
Patel was the last man to get out, as a Pat Cummins delivery sneaked in and clipped the off stump and bail fell off. Patel played a vital innings for India, scoring 84 runs during a 174-ball stay at the wicket during which he struck 10 boundaries and one six.
He was cautious to start and went for the runs after Jadeja got out, showing the visitors how to build innings on this wicket. The Aussies had prepared themselves for a snake pit of a wicket that was specially made to render the left-handed batsmen packed in their lineup hors de combat.
But ironically, it were two left-handed batters in the Indian lineup — Jadeja and Patel — that took the match away from them with a crucial partnership for the eighth wicket.
However, there was a silver lining for the visitors too as rookie off-spinner Todd Murphy bowled brilliantly, used the conditions well to add two more wickets to his tall for a seven-wicket haul on debut.
Murphy bowled great line and length and showed superb control, using the slider that goes straight to great effect, foxing some of the Indian batsmen as they played for the turn but found the ball going straight.
The 22-year-old off-spinner let the ball drift and troubled all the batters with his superb bowling. He finished with 7-124 off 42 overs, bowling most of his overs from the North End.
Australia 177 & 91 all out in 32.3 overs (Steve Smith 25 not out; R Ashwin 5-37, R Jadeja 2-34, M Shami 2-13) lost to India 400 all out in 139.3 overs (Rohit Sharma 120, Ravindra Jadeja 70, Axar Patel 84, Mohd Shami 37; Todd Murphy 7-124, Cummins 2-78) by innings and 132 runs.
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