NEW DELHI (AFP) – A stunning one-handed catch by KL Rahul ended Usman Khawaja’s gritty knock of 81 as India took firm control against Australia on the opening day of the second Test yesterday.
Australia took tea at 199-6 in New Delhi after the tourists won the toss and elected to bat in their bid to bounce back from their opening drubbing in the four-match series.
The left-handed Khawaja put on a key 59-run fifth-wicket stand with Peter Handscomb before Ravindra Jadeja broke through with his 250th Test wicket.
But it was all about Rahul’s acrobatics at point as the opener dived full stretch to his right to grab the ball on a reverse sweep from Khawaja, who fell to his knees in disbelief.
Ravichandran Ashwin soon got wicketkeeper Alex Carey for a duck – the bowler’s third wicket of the day – as India once again called the shots after a mini Australian fightback.
Handscomb was batting on 36 with skipper Pat Cummins on 23 at the break at Arun Jaitley Stadium.
Khawaja kept up the batting charge after he got to his fifty before lunch as he and Handscomb played the spinners bravely on a turning pitch following Travis Head’s departure, for 12, soon after lunch.
In the first session, off-spinner Ashwin struck twice in one over, taking Marnus Labuschagne for 18 and Steve Smith for a duck to put the tourists in trouble.
David Warner, who scored one and 10 in Nagpur in the first Test, was the first to go, for 15, after he got his first runs on the 21st ball he faced. He fell to fast bowler Mohammed Shami.
Warner had faced a barrage of short balls by seamer Mohammed Siraj and took a couple of blows, on the elbow and the back of the helmet.
But just when it looked as if the left-handed opener had settled in, Shami produced a peach of a delivery that pitched and held its line from around the wicket for the keeper to take the edge.
Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara was presented with a special cap on his landmark 100th match and entered the field through a corridor created by the players.
Australia made two changes with Head returning and a Test debut for left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann, who was flown in after the opening defeat debacle in Nagpur.
India made one change with Shreyas Iyer in for Suryakumar Yadav.