Sun, 26 May 2019

Head, Ashwin star as battle for lead rages on

07 Dec 2018, 17:52 GMT+10

Australia 191 for 7 (Head 61*, Handscomb 34, Ashwin 3-50) trail India 250 (Pujara 123, Hazlewood 3-52) by 59 runs

R Ashwin's skill and Travis Head's patience headlined another day of old-school Test cricket as the Adelaide Test remained fascinatingly poised. After Ashwin's delightful cocktail of drift, dip, and turn cracked open Australia's line-up, Head, playing his first Test in Australia, rallied with an unbeaten 61 at his home ground to narrow the deficit to 59 at stumps on day two.

On their previous tour to Australia in December 2014, India had dropped R Ashwin in the first Test at this venue and gambled on an more attacking option: a wristspinner in rookie Karn Sharma, who wound up conceding 143 at a run-rate of 4.33 in the first innings. Four years later, in the first Test of the series, Ashwin showed his worth in an interrupted 22-over spell, where he plucked out three left-handers and conceded only 38 runs.

Runs came in a trickle for Australia - their run-rate of 2.17 was their second lowest in the first innings of a home Test since 1990 - but Head was simply immovable. He showed excellent judgement outside off, but latched onto anything that was loose. Case in point: when Ashwin dropped an offbreak short and wide outside off, Head ventured deep in the crease and crunched it to the point boundary. Then when Ishant Sharma overpitched one outside off, Head bent his back knee and drove it through extra-cover. He reached his fifty in the 73rd over, when he punched a rank half-tracker from part-time offspinner M Vijay to deep cover.

However, such looseners were few and far between.

Full report to follow

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