2nd Test: Bowlers Roll Over Aus for 195, Pujara, Gill Steady Ship
Siraj (40/2), Bumrah (56/4) and R Ashwin (35/3) were superb with the ball, keeping Australia on a very tight leash.
It was India’s day through and through on Boxing Day in the second Test against Australia at Melbourne. Debutants Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill showed off their wares in style as India shot out the hosts for 195. This is the second time on the tour that Australia have been bowled out for less than 200, the other being the first innings in Adelaide.
Siraj (40/2), Jasprit Bumrah (56/4) and R Ashwin (35/3) were impeccable with the ball and kept Australia on a very tight leash, and were helped by some sharp catching by the fielders. In the final hour, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins bowled a very hostile spell at India’s openers, with Starc striking in the first over yet again to send Mayank Agarwal packing.
After that, Gill with Cheteshwar Pujara looked assured and saw the evening out without further ado. Young Gill got his first runs in Test cricket with a majestic off-drive and then found the fence another four times in very elegant manner to finish the day unbeaten on 28. Pujara stayed unbeaten on 7 with India 159 runs behind.
Spinner R Ashwin had been the main tormentor for the hosts, picking the crucial wickets of skipper Tim Paine in the final session to add to his earlier scalps of Matthew Wade and Steve Smith.
Siraj, who finished with the scalps of Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green and took two catches, is one of two debutants in the Indian line-up for the game with Shubman Gill playing as an opener, in place of Prithvi Shaw.
Australian captain Tim Paine had won the toss earlier in the day and elected to bat first, playing the same XI as the series-opener.
Joe Burns fluctuating fortunes however did not look up with the opener falling to Jasprit Bumrah in just the fifth over of the day. He had remained unbeaten on 51 in the second innings of the first Test but under the early morning sun in Melbourne he swung his bat only to nick one to keeper Rishabh Pant. Out on a 10-ball duck with the score at 10/1.
After utilising Bumrah and Umesh Yadav for the first 10 overs, captain Ajinkya Rahane introduced spin and R Ashwin delivered with two scalps - opener Matthew Wade and Steve Smith.
Wade was looking good on a 39-ball 30 when he tried to take the attack to Ashwin by trying a slog-sweep but instead top-edged it for Ravindra Jadeja to take a catch at mid-wicket.
Two overs later though came the prized wicket of Smith with Pujara taking the catch. Smith tried to turn a delivery on the middle and leg towards square leg only to find Cheteshwar Pujara take the catch at leg slip. Out for his second duck of the series.
Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head then stabilised the innings with the score at 65/3 at Lunch.
The two batters shared a 86-run partnership before Jasprit Bumrah got Head caught at slips by skipper Ajinkya Rahane at his individual score of 38.
Labuschagne, who had survived a couple of lbw calls and a blow on the helmet as well, looked all set for a well-deserved half century until he became the first Test scalp of Mohammad Siraj, just two runs short of the milestone. Siraj, bowling to his field, got the Australian batter caught by another debutant Shubman Gill down the leg-side. Labuschagne scored 48 runs in 132 balls he faced.
India continued to keep the pressure up on the hosts after Tea. Siraj, who had led the team off for the second break of the day, struck first as he trapped Cameron Green lbw for 12.
Off the next over, Australia’s tormentor in chief, Ashwin struck again, removing a set Tim Paine, caught sharply by Hanuma Vihari at leg gully for 13. The hosts at 155/7 were in a fair bit of trouble.
India, determined to not let the tail wag yet again, had Bumrah steaming in from one end to Mitchell Starc who flicked him away first off the pads for a boundary before the pacer got one back.
A well directed short one an over later had Starc trying to hook but could not get the required connection as Siraj completed a good catch at fine leg, the hosts were 164/8 with India tightening the screws in the final hour.
Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins resisted for a few overs with the spinner tonking Bumrah for 10 off two short deliveries before being trapped LBW for 20.
Off the next over, Cummins looked to go big as well of Ravindra Jadeja and holed out to Siraj at long-on as India managed to polish off the final few wickets quickly and bowl out Australia for 195.
Toss and Squad
Earlier in the day, Australia won the toss and elected to bat in the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Aussies, who defeated India by eight wickets in the first Test in Adelaide after bowling them out for a paltry 36 in the second innings, have fielded an unchanged squad.
India, meanwhile, are going in with four changes. They have brought in Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Siraj and Rishabh Pant in place of Prithvi Shaw (dropped), Virat Kohli (personal reasons), Mohammed Shami (injured) and Wriddhiman Saha (dropped).
Ajinkya Rahane is leading the side in the absence of Kohli, who has returned to India to attend the birth of his child.
This is the 100th Test between India and Australia.
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