Gutsy India bounce back to skittle Australia in second Test
A resilient India bounced back from its embarrassing first Test exploits to bundle Australia for just 195 and get a grip on the second Test in Melbourne after a thrilling opening day on Saturday.
After their horror show in Adelaide last week, where they lost at eight wickets and were bowled at 36 in their second inning, the tourists were eager to get off to a good start.
And they delivered after Australian captain Tim Paine won the throw and decided to hit in front of 27,615 socially distant fans, which was just below the maximum allowed under coronavirus restrictions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
On a pitch that offered turn and bounce, the hosts found it difficult to face a high quality attack from Jasprit Bumrah (4-56), Ravi Ashwin (3-35) and the formidable Mohammed Siraj (2-40) debut for the injured Mohammed Shami.
Marnus Labuschagne scored the most goals at 48, but that was as good as it could get.
Indian openers Shubman Gill, also making their debut, and Mayank Agarwal had to negotiate 40 minutes at the end of the day.
Agarwal was not up to the task and was caught in the first round by an inswinger from Mitchell Starc.
Gill was dropped to five by Labuschagne but otherwise looked comfortable. He hit five lines to reach 28 and helped bring India to 36 while the veteran Cheteshwar Pujara remained undefeated on seven.
"In the first session, we were just trying to roll into the legal areas," said Bumrah, who praised Siraj for "throwing his heart out."
He added that Sunday's plan was for the batsmen to be positive rather than conservative.
"We're just trying to control the controllable elements, not ruthlessly, but confidently."
With Ajinkya Rahane captaining in the place of Virat Kohli, who returned home for the birth of his first child, India got off to a perfect start, catching Burns (0), Matthew Wade (30) and Smith (0) before lunch.
It got Australia in trouble, but Labushagne rode his luck, surviving two review decisions to lead a recovery, and beating 86-point with Travis Head, 38.
Head got off to a nervous start but grew more confident before Bumrah lured a ledge that hit Rahane at the gully and caused a collapse.
Labuschagne appeared to be set for a ninth half century, but a brilliant catch from Gill ended his vigil and handed Siraj his first test wicket.
All-rounder Cameron Green prevailed around 12 before he fell on Siraj. Then Paine (13) was responsible for an excellent catch from Hanuma Vihari in front of Ashwin.
Nathan Lyon hit a cameo 20, but Australia's tail didn't wag otherwise.
- Still in game -
"We've probably had three harmless layoffs that we probably didn't need, frustrating layoffs, and they were people who were hired," Labuschagne said.
"We just have to be better there ... that everyone who comes in that day, whether myself or someone else in the top order, makes sure we get big scores."
But he added: "I think we are (still) in the game."
With David Warner still injured, the hosts went into the fight unchanged, with Burns opening alongside Wade.
Burns hit an unbeaten 51 in Adelaide to take some pressure off after a long break, but his Saturday performance will again raise questions about his place on the team.
He looked tentatively against Bumrah and got a nick for a shipment he should have left.
On the other end, Wade had an escape on four but started finding the gaps before attempting a big hit against Ashwin that proved his fall for 30.
Ravindra Jadeja took the catch, but only barely with Gill underneath. The couple collided, but Jadeja was able to hold on.
Ashwin then claimed Smith's crucial scalp, which was undone by a break with Pujara holding a slip while slipping after the world's top batsman saw just eight balls.
mp / mtp
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