(Photo: Getty Images)
By Harvey Burgess
Australia ended day one of the first Test against India in Pune on 256/9, after Matt Renshaw and Mitchell Starc had registered half-centuries for the visiting side.
On a pitch that looked as dry as almost any seen in the subcontinent in recent years and thus provided bountiful turn and bounce, it was surprisingly the fast bowler Umesh Yadav who took four wickets, including that of opener David Warner.
Renshaw, the 20-year-old playing his first Test outside of Australia, retired ill with a stomach bug halfway through his innings but recovered admirably to make a composed 68.
There were few other positives to take from the first day for Australia, except for the crucial 57* from 58 balls that Starc recorded late into the afternoon.
It was clear early on that the pitch had been tailor made for the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and so it took an impressive start from Australia to make 82 before the first wicket fell. Warner was bowled by Yadav 27 overs into the morning.
Five more Australian batsmen came and went without really troubling India, as Ashwin and Jadeja cared for most of the middle order. Two wickets fell in two overs before tea, including the key scalp of captain Steve Smith who was caught at mid-on off Jadeja.
Left-hander Starc managed to provide some resistance for the Aussies, playing some fine shots in a quick-fire innings, but he was not backed up by his fellow lower-order batsmen.
Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon both fell for ducks to Yadav, leaving the Indian seamer with the opportunity for a hat-trick. He may have been unable to achieve that particular feat, but he was the pick of the bowlers and day one, therefore Starc and Josh Hazlewood will surely be licking their lips at the prospect of bowling tomorrow.
Australia will return with Starc and Hazlewood at the crease, and will almost certainly be bowling for the majority of the day. On a turning pitch like this, opportunity will knock for both O’Keefe and Lyon to help Australia along in conditions that they have notoriously struggled with.
India are currently heavy favourites to win the Test and you wouldn’t bet against them, considering Australia’s last Test victory in India came in October 2004. After a relatively even first day, we might have to wait until Monday to find out whether the Aussies can break that streak.