The Australian batsmen showed commendable application to claim the upper-hand against India with a vital 48-run first innings lead after reaching 237 for six on an engaging second day of the second Test at Bengaluru.
Australia’s young opener Matt Renshaw (60) and the experienced Shaun Marsh (66) battled hard against the Indian spinners. Their fighting half-centuries consolidated Australia's position in the match but Virat Kohli's captaincy was in question.
On a pitch aiding spinners, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (3/49), the home team's top wicket-taker, got to bowl only 17 overs compared to Ravichandran Ashwin (1/75 in 41 overs).
While Ashwin bowled a tight line and beat the bat on occasions, it was Jadeja, who looked like the most lethal among the Indian bowlers. To their credit, the Australians applied themselves better than the Indians on a two-paced pitch.
Jadeja was using the rough created on both sides of the stumps more effectively but Kohli's decision was baffling as he even gave Karun Nair an over in the end.
It was perhaps one of the most intense and intriguing days of Test cricket in the current home season where the batting team managed a total of 197 runs off 90 overs in a single day's play.
A first innings lead of even 100 runs would be as good as a 175-run lead on this track, which would make it even more difficult for the Indian batsmen, already under pressure after three poor innings of under 200 runs.
Unlike India, Australia had some good partnerships including a 52-run opening stand between David Warner (33) and Renshaw after which the former was bowled by a classic off-break from Ashwin.
Skipper Steve Smith (8), for a change, was dismissed cheaply with Wriddhiman Saha taking a fantastic catch off Jadeja's bowling.
But the partnership that turned out to be crucial was the one between Renshaw and Marsh senior which yielded 52 runs.
The duo came together at 82 for 2 and they consumed more than 25 overs. It was the manner in which they handled Umesh Yadav's reverse swing and the two spinners which made it difficult for the home team.
Renshaw, in particular, was a revelation during his 196-ball stay. He showed solid defensive technique and hit five fours and a six off Jadeja before being stumped.
Marsh, however, got an able ally in Matthew Wade (25 batting). The duo added 57 runs for the sixth wicket during which they got past India's first innings total.
Matthew Wade and Mitchell Starc ensured that Australia don’t lose any more wickets till the close of play.
(With inputs from PTI)