Australia scratch and claw behind Steve Smith as Umesh Yadav takes 3-48
Steve Smith continued his unbeaten run with a half century in his first Test match as captain, guiding Australia to 221-4 in reply to India’s 408 before bad light stopped play on Day 2 of the second Test.
Standing in for injured captain Michael Clarke, the 25-year-old Smith followed up his unbeaten innings of 162 and 52 in the first Test win last week with 65 not out on Thursday.
Momentum swung around on another sultry day at the Gabba, which finished under stormy skies.
Nine wickets fell in the first two sessions after India resumed at a commanding 311-4. The Australians took six wickets for 97 to dismiss India before lunch, with paceman Josh Hazlewood snaring 5-68 on his Test debut and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin equalling an Australian record with six catches.
Australia lost three wickets for 121 in the middle session, before putting on 100 for the loss of one wicket after tea. Umesh Yadav was the pick of India’s bowlers, taking 3-48 from 13 overs.
“We are in front of the game at this point of time,” said India offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who scored 35, took a wicket and held two catches in his recall match after missing the first Test in Adelaide. “I fancy myself getting them out tomorrow morning – 400 is enough if we can get a couple of wickets tomorrow morning then we’re right in front.”
The Australian top order made starts but failed to go on, with David Warner (29) and Shane Watson (25) falling to bad shots before Chris Rogers was out on the last ball before tea for 55, his first Test half century since February.
Smith and Shaun Marsh, who was recalled in the absence of Clarke, combined for 87 runs in as many minutes to get the hosts within 200 of India before the fourth wicket fell.
Smith thumped Ashwin over the long-on boundary twice and cut him for four in one over that yielded 16 runs after the Indian off-spinner had conceded just 19 runs in his first 11 overs.
Marsh, who twice dropped Murali Vijay on Wednesday before the Indian opener scored 144, had his own reprieve on 32 but didn’t make it pay.
He top-edged an attempted pull shot against Varun Aaron, skying the ball to leg gully, where Ajinkya Rahane put down a regulation chance that was well within range of wicketkeeper and skipper MS Dhoni.
Marsh didn’t add to his score before he was out two overs later, edging a steeply-rising ball from Yadav to Ashwin at slip.
On 63, Smith looked up to the sky to acknowledge his former teammate Phillip Hughes, who was on that score in a Sheffield Shield match last month when he was hit by a short ball and later died in hospital. The four-Test series against India series was rescheduled after Hughes’ death, and Australia’s players are again wearing black armbands in his honour.
Earlier, India started the day with high expectations of continuing an assault on a beleaguered Australian bowling attack that wilted in hot and humid conditions on Day 1.
But both of India’s overnight batsmen were out quickly with Rahane (81) edging Hazlewood to Haddin and Rohit Sharma (32) spectacularly caught by a diving Smith at second slip off Watson.
Hazlewood then switched ends and removed Ashwin (35) and Dhoni (33) to hasten India’s slide.
“That was a pretty important time – to get a few early ones today was crucial to our success,” Hazlewood said. “Yesterday was a pretty tough slog, out in the heat, but we all came out well and ... picked up the last six wickets for about where we wanted them.
“Confidence is sky high.”
Haddin’s six dismissals equalled the Australian Test record for wicketkeepers, shared by Wally Grout, Rod Marsh and Ian Healy.
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Published: December 18, 2014 04:00 AM