Head Keeps Tail Wagging, Australia 191/7 After Day 2 vs India
After losing their final wicket early, India restricted Australia to 191 for seven on Day 2 of the first Test, courtesy Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah.
Travis Head rescued the Aussies with a half-century after the visitor's disciplined bowling attack had threatened to take control in Adelaide on Friday, 7 December. India spinner Ashwin claimed 3 for 50 from 33 overs, while quicks Bumrah and Ishant picked up two wickets apiece.
Australia now trail India by 59 runs, with Head 61 not out and Mitchell Starc unbeaten on 8.
After ending the opening day at 250 for nine, Mohammed Shami (6) was dismissed by Josh Hazlewood (3/52) on the first ball of the day. The Indian pacer went after a short delivery, only to be caught behind down leg side, as India's first innings came to a quick end.
Mitchell Starc (2/63), Pat Cummins (2/49) and Nathan Lyon (2/83) finished with two wickets each.
Travis Head Saves Australia
Australia didn't have the best of starts as Ishant bowled Aaron Finch (0) with a fuller, inswinging delivery on only the third ball of their innings. Khawaja and debutant opener Marcus Harris (26) then settled down to provide a solid start for the hosts.
The duo batted out 20.4 overs and put on 45 runs for the second wicket, already higher than any partnership for the top-four Indian wickets.
On their part, both Harris and Khawaja were content leaving as many deliveries as possible, and struck only four boundaries between them.
Ashwin was introduced into the attack in the 12th over of the innings, and first struck before Lunch. Harris played on to his pads and was caught at silly point in the 22nd over, as the spinner got dividends for blocking all scoring opportunities.
Shaun Marsh (2) gifted his wicket immediately after the break. In the very first over, he went for a wild slash against Ashwin, but ended up playing on as Australia were reduced to 59-3.
Usman Khawaja (28) and Handscomb then added 28 runs for the fourth wicket. The latter played some loose strokes at the start of his innings, but got some streaky boundaries off Mohammed Shami (0-51) to help the scoring rate move along.
The big moment came in the 40th over, when Ashwin got Khawaja's wicket. The left-hander had been tied down and was content eating up deliveries. However, he pushed one forward against Ashwin and gloved it to keeper Rishabh Pant.
India appealed, and then opted for DRS review with hotspot showing a faint tickle on Khawaja's glove as Australia were suddenly reduced to 87-4.
Head then joined Handscomb and defied the Indian bowling, which didn't allow any easy runs but also couldn't find another breakthrough before the Tea break.
Handscomb struck five boundaries, while Head hit a four as well, as the duo put on 30 runs for the fifth wicket, taking Australia past 100 in the 48th over.
Post Tea, the hosts lost two wickets for 10 runs in a passage of play spanning eight overs. It was credit to Indian bowling that it kept the runs in check and regular inroads into the Australian line-up meant that they were never really out of pressure.
Peter Handscomb (34) was the first to fall. He tried to play the late cut against Bumrah but only managed to edge behind.
Shortly after, Ishant came up with an unplayable length delivery and Australian captain Tim Paine (5) had no choice but to play at it, only to edge to the keeper.
Australia were struggling at 127-6, when things turned their way thanks to the eighth-wicket partnership between Head and Cummins.
Head started to play more shots as soon as the tail-ender came to the crease, and in doing so, reached his second Test half-century off 103 balls.
It was the only passage of play where India's bowling lost a little colour, but it was partly due to the fact that Murali Vijay (0-10) bowled four overs before the second new ball was taken.
Cummins faced 44 balls until then but it didn't matter as Bumrah trapped him LBW. However, the Indian pacers were unable to make further inroads into the Australian lower-order as Head and Starc batted out the remaining overs before stumps.