Pune: India were left to climb a difficult mountain after they collapsed to 105 all out in their first innings of the first Test match at Maharashtra Cricket Stadium here on Friday. Australia who scored 260 in their first innings were 143/4 at stumps on day two stretching their overall lead to 298 on a rank turner. The dangerous Steve Smith was unbeaten on 59 in 117 balls.
Steve O’Keefe emerged an unlikely hero for the Aussies. The left-arm spinner picked a career best 6/35 and his first five-for. Incidentally all the O’Keefe wickets came within an hour in post lunch session as India slipped from 94/3 to 105 all-out conceding a healthy lead of 155 runs on this wicket.
The mayhem started eight overs post-lunch. K.L. Rahul who raised his second Test fifty in 84 balls and also showed signs of recovery with a 50-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane for the fourth wicket played a reckless shot, charging down to O’Keefe and skied one to the onrushing David Warner.
Rahul, who took some risks, top-scored with 64 in 97 balls studded with 10 boundaries and a six. It gave India a chance for comeback after Mitchell Starc (2/38) dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara (6) and Virat Kohli (0) inside three balls to reduce India to 44/3. Pujara gloved a high rising delivery to wicket keeper Matthew Wade while Kohli chased a full pitched wide delivery and offered outside edge to his counterpart Smith at first slip. Murali Vijay (10) was dismissed by Josh Hazlewood in his first over.
The Aussies had introduced spin from both ends for the first time and it brought results in the first over itself. O’Keefe struck second time in an over by dismissing Rahane (13) and later Wriddhiman Saha (0) in the same over. The hosts further slipped as Ravichandran Ashwin (1) perished in next over to Nathan Lyon. India lost four wickets in eight balls and O’Keefe polished off the tail in quick time.
Earlier resuming at 256/9, Starc was out in first over of the day to Ashwin, caught by Ravindra Jadeja at deep mid wicket as the Aussie innings folded up for 260 in 94.5 overs. Starc made 61 while Ashwin finished with 3/63. Ashwin removed both the openers Warner (10) and Shaun Marsh (0) quickly in the second innings but Smith and Handscomb took Australia to 46/2 at tea.
Handscomb became Ashwin’s third victim but Smith, kept motoring on. Renshaw also rode on his luck to almost replicate what he did in the first innings. Smith raised his 21st Test half-century and completed 1000 runs against India....