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Renshaw, Marsh fifties put Australia in front

Wisden India logo Wisden India 05-03-2017
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Matt Renshaw and Shaun Marsh made half-centuries sprinkled with skill, tremendous patience and a little luck as Australia edged ahead on an attritional second day of the second Test at M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday (March 5). Their 52-run partnership, after Steven Smith had been dismissed cheaply, kept India at bay for most of a session, and Marsh then added 57 with Matthew Wade (25 not out) as Australia eked out a 48-run lead before stumps. They made 197 runs in the 90 overs bowled, testament to the cat-and-mouse nature of the day’s play.

To their credit, India bowled with real intensity, with the cavalier wastage of two DRS reviews in the final session the only real blot on their performance. On a pitch that exhibited inconsistent bounce, and where the cracks frequently came into play, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav bowled immaculate, long spells to support the spinners. It was Ravindra Jadeja who reaped the rewards with three wickets, while R Ashwin worked like a Trojan in two marathon spells to create pressure.

Full scorecard: India vs Australia, 2nd Test

It was Ashwin that gave India the first breakthrough, with his 13th ball of the morning. David Warner had shown his intent by glancing Ishant for four and then forcing one through the covers, but he had no answer to a magical delivery that pitched well outside leg stump and broke back to knock out off stump. Warner, uncertain whether to pad it away, merely followed it with his bat. He made 33.

What followed was a gripping passage of play as Smith and Renshaw struggled to get the ball away. Tempers flared too at times, though it seldom crossed the line. A frustrated Ishant made faces at Smith, who reciprocated, reducing Virat Kohli to peals of laughter.

Smith had made just four when he misjudged the length of an Ashwin delivery and missed a sweep. Nigel Llong said not out, India reviewed, and replays showed ‘Umpire’s call’ on ball-tracking. At the other end, the unflappable Renshaw was dealing mainly in edges. Twice, he snicked Umesh through the slip cordon for fours. The third time, when he was on 29, Kohli couldn’t hold on to a low chance at first slip.

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It was only after 90 minutes and 21 overs that Jadeja was introduced, but it didn’t take him long to impose himself on proceedings. In his third over, Smith inside edged one on to the thigh for Wriddhiman Saha to take running to his left. Smith had scrapped 52 balls for his eight.

Australia managed 47 runs in the 29 overs before lunch, and Ashwin was into his 22nd over when he conceded his first four, as Marsh swept one square. Then came the pivotal moment in the day’s play, as Umesh beat Marsh, then 14, for pace outside his off stump. There was a half-hearted appeal, but India opted not to go for the review. Replays showed that the ball had brushed his thumb.

With Ashwin tiring, Renshaw came down the pitch and lofted him over midwicket for four, reaching his half-century soon after off 183 deliveries. As Ashwin targeted mainly the rough patch outside leg stump, the batsmen were content to either pad away or sweep, with Marsh in particular playing the stroke with great ease.

Renshaw, who had batted more than four hours, then sauntered down the track to loft Jadeja over long-off for six. But the attempted encore two balls later led only to the pavilion. Jadeja saw him coming, pushed the ball down the leg side, and Saha whipped off the bails. Renshaw’s 60 spanned 196 balls and his exit saw Kohli egging on the crowd to make itself heard.

Peter Handscomb came out determined not to be crease-bound, especially against Ashwin, and he lofted both spinners over midwicket for fours as the run rate slowly crept over two. With Ashwin’s accuracy suffering towards the end of an 18-over spell, Marsh cut a short ball for four as India started to look increasingly desperate.



It was Ashwin that gave them a route back into the game, but not with his bowling. When Handscomb clipped to midwicket, Ashwin dived to his right to clutch the ball. It popped out when his elbow hit the ground, but then bounced on his arms a couple of times before he finally gathered it.

With tea looming, Ishant replaced Ashwin and sent back Mitchell Marsh for an 11-ball duck, trapped in front by one that struck him low on the pad. That gave India a session that had seen 76 scored in 35 overs for the loss of three wickets.

It was a different story after tea as Shaun Marsh and Wade set about quieting the Sunday crowd. Marsh lofted Jadeja down to long-on for four, and Wade saw an edge off Ishant fall short of Saha and go for four. With the score on 175 and Marsh on 44, India thought they had him, as Richard Illingworth upheld a leg-before appeal from the tireless Umesh. But Marsh reviewed, and replays showed that the impact had been marginally outside the line of off stump.

In the next over, Ishant did trap him in front of the stumps, but by then Llong had already signaled no-ball. India’s disappointment then triggered a wasted review as Marsh inside-edged Ashwin on to the pad. Soon after, he brought up his 50 off 162 balls, and the scores were leveled with 90.5 overs having been bowled.

India took the new ball soon after and burned up their remaining review, as Wade padded up to one from Ashwin that then brushed his chest on its way behind the stumps. With Marsh and Wade adding 50 in 112 balls, a fair clip by the standards of this match, India needed inspiration. Umesh provided it, getting Marsh to miscue to Karun Nair at midwicket. Umesh’s and India’s day could have ended even better if Saha, diving to his left, hadn’t dropped Mitchell Starc off the third ball he faced.

Marsh batted 197 balls for his 66, and as the players trooped off half an hour later with Australia in control of proceedings, India could only wonder about the catch that never was.

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