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India finish day one on 36/1 after Bumrah, Ashwin wreck Australia batting
Day One Report

India finish day one on 36/1 after Bumrah, Ashwin wreck Australia batting

A resilient India bounced back from their embarrassing first Test exploits to bundle out Australia for just 195 and take a grip on the second Test in Melbourne after a riveting opening day on Saturday.

After their horror show in Adelaide last week, where they lost by eight wickets and were skittled for 36 in their second innings, the tourists were desperate to start well.

And they delivered after Australian captain Tim Paine won the toss and chose to bat in front of 27,615 socially-distanced fans, just short of the maximum allowed under coronavirus restrictions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

On a pitch offering turn and bounce, the hosts found it hard going against a high-quality attack led by Jasprit Bumrah (4-56), Ravi Ashwin (3-35) and the impressive Mohammed Siraj (2-40), making his debut for the injured Mohammed Shami.

Marnus Labuschagne top-scored with 48 but that was as good as it got.

It left Indian openers Shubman Gill, also on debut, and Mayank Agarwal needing to negotiate 40 minutes at the end of the day.

Agarwal was not up to the task, trapped lbw by a Mitchell Starc inswinger in the first over.

Gill was dropped on five by Labuschagne but otherwise looked comfortable, smacking five boundaries to reach 28 and help steer India to 36 for one at close with the experienced Cheteshwar Pujara unbeaten on seven.

“In the first session we were just trying to bowl in the rights areas,” said Bumrah, who praised Siraj for “bowling his heart out”.

He added that the plan on Sunday was for the batsmen to be positive, rather than conservative. “We're just looking to control the controllables, not being reckless but being confident.”

With Ajinkya Rahane captaining the side in place of Virat Kohli, who has returned home for the birth of his first child, India got off to a perfect start, getting Burns (0), Matthew Wade (30) and Smith (0) before lunch.

It left Australia in trouble but Labuschagne rode his luck, surviving two review decisions, to lead a recovery, putting on 86 with Travis Head (38).

Head had a nervous start but grew in confidence before Bumrah enticed an edge which carried to Rahane at gully, sparking a collapse.

Labuschagne looked set for a ninth half-century but a brilliant catch by Gill ended his vigil and handed Siraj his first Test wicket.

Allrounder Cameron Green ground out 12 before he too fell to Siraj, then an excellent catch by Hanuma Vihari off Ashwin accounted for Paine (13).

Nathan Lyon hit a cameo 20 but Australia's tail otherwise failed to wag.

“We had probably three innocuous dismissals that we probably didn't need to, frustrating dismissals and they were guys who were set and in,” said Labuschagne.

“Just need to be better there [...] that whoever gets in on the day, whether myself or anyone else in the top order, we make sure we get big scores.”

But he added: “I think we're (still) in the game.”