Ind v Aus: Renshaw, Marsh help Australia gain upper hand

Shaun Marsh and Matt Renshaw both scored crucial half centuries as Australia ended Day 2 at 237/6, and took an important 48-run lead.

Shaun Marsh played an important knock of 66.   -  Reuters

Often on Sunday, Virat Kohli gesticulated to the crowd. The message was clear: make some noise. The fans here at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium responded heartily and some took it to an extreme level and even booed the departing Australian batsmen.

Yet, for all the off-field drama, it was Steve Smith’s men, who progressed on the turf and gained an unfinished 48-run lead. At close on the second day of the second Test, Australia posted 237 for six in its first innings, well past India’s 189.

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The run-rate at times was excruciatingly slow, plumbing below two, especially in the morning session. There were edges that fell short, a few nerve-wracking moments as India pressed for reviews only to eat humble-pie and within this chaos, Australia stood firm. A large share of the credit is due to opener Matt Renshaw (60, 196b, 5x4, 1x6) and Shaun Marsh (66, 197b, 4x4).

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Resuming at the overnight 40 for no loss on a wearing pitch , Australia needed David Warner to prosper. The opener, though, played beside the line to R. Ashwin and found his stumps in disarray. At 52 for one, Australia looked upto Renshaw and Smith to stay. The former did that while the latter was caught up in a tussle with Ishant Sharma. It did not make for pretty viewing and Smith eventually fell to Ravindra Jadeja.

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Seemingly oblivious to the pressure around him, Renshaw dug in. He enjoyed a lucky break on 29 as Kohli could not latch onto an edge off Umesh Yadav. Along with fellow southpaw Shaun, Renshaw guided Australia to 87 for two at lunch. On resumption, the duo stretched its critical 52-run third-wicket partnership across 151 deliveries.

If the first session was about being dour against accurate Indian bowlers, the secondary period revealed a relative urgency from the visitor. Smith’s men scored 76 for three in the 35 overs between lunch and tea. Kohli persisted with the ploy of speedsters from the Northern End and spinners at the Pavilion End. The predictability of that approach emboldened Renshaw and Shaun to gradually unveil their sweeps, pulls and the hoick into the stands.

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Finally in the day’s 47th over, Kohli again employed spin from the Northern End, pressing Jadeja into service. Initially Renshaw remained guarded but in Jadeja’s next over, he smote a six but in trying for an encore, the opener was left stranded as the left-arm spinner fired down the leg-side to set up a stumping. After Renshaw’s exit, Australia lost two more before tea as Peter Handscomb found a diving Ashwin, who pulled off a splendid catch within the inner circle.

On the stroke of tea, Mitchell Marsh failed to block an Ishant delivery that kept low and homed into his legs but at 163 for five and staying just 26 runs adrift off India’s first innings total, it was Australia that held a marginal edge. An advantage that was reinforced in the last session as 74 runs were scored in 26 overs, with Shaun’s exit being the lone blip.

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It was a passage of play in which India, despite striving hard to nip the tail, found Shaun surviving an lbw appeal from Umesh. The review favoured the Australian batsman and fittingly his single off Ashwin, helped his team secure the lead. Earlier, Shaun feathered a snick off Umesh and India did not ask for a review. He added 57 runs for the sixth-wicket with Mathew Wade, before succumbing to a persevering Umesh.

The joy for India was fleeting as there was more misery in store. Wriddhiman Saha dropped Mitchell Starc off Umesh. Starc was yet to open his account and the memories of his biff in the first innings at Pune, are still fresh.

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