Skipper Rohit Sharma continued to wage a grim battle even as India lost the wickets of nightwatchman R Ashwin and Cheteshwar Pujara to move 26 runs adrift of Australia’s first innings score of 177 on the second day of the first Test of the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy series here on Friday.
At Lunch on the second day, India were 151/3 in 54 overs with Rohit Sharma batting on 85 and his predecessor Virat Kohli keeping him company with 12 runs.
Rohit, who had started very aggressively on the first day, was quite circumspect on the second morning as he played cautiously building the Indian innings diligently. He shared a crucial 42-run partnership with Ashwin as they took India past the 100-run mark.
However, two quick wickets of Ashwin and Pujara were setbacks the Indians could have done without. Debutant off-spinner Todd Murphy claimed all three wickets to fall so far in the Indian innings so far. He had figures of 3-35 off 15 overs even as senior spinner Nathan Lyon is wicketless thus far from 20 overs.
Ashwin, sent in as nightwatchman after K.L Rahul was out in the penultimate over before stumps on Thursday, did his job well as he survived the first hour, helping skipper Rohit Sharma to keep the scoreboard ticking.
He struck a boundary each off Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins and slog-sweeping Lyon over deep mid-wicket for a six as he survived a few close calls including a big lbw appeal in the 27th over before getting out for 23, trapped lbw off Todd Murphy. The ball pitches on the middle and leg from round the wicket and turns in, misses the inside edge by a whisker before thudding into the front pad. Ashwin had not taken a bit step forward and through the umpire ruled not out, Australia reviewed and got the wicket.
Pujara (7, 14 balls, 1×4) was looking his usual cautious self before he tried to hit a loose ball outside leg from Murphy but could only top-edge it to Scott Boland at short fine-leg.
Rohit too survived a couple of close calls including a close lbw review by Australia off Murphy but kept his team’s hopes alive in a match in which they need to take a big lead so as to force the Aussies further on the back foot.
With Virat Kohli keeping him company at the lunch break, Rohit should be looking to complete his century and then score some quick runs to bolster the Indian innings.
At Lunch, Day 2: Australia 177 v India 151/3 in 54 overs (Rohit Sharma batting 85, Ashwin 23; Todd Murphy 3-35). India trail by 26 runs).