Nagpur: India bounced back in style post-lunch session with spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin wreaking havoc to restrict Australia at 174/8 at tea on Day 1 of the first Border-Gavaskar Test match at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium here on Thursday.
The duo bagged six wickets, with Jadeja who was making a comeback, hauled four wickets, and at one stage he was on an hat-trick after dismissing the set batsman and an incoming batsman in consecutive deliveries.
Marnus Labuschagne (49 off 123 balls) and Steve Smith (37 off 107) were poised for a big show, but Jadeja foxed the former who danced out of the crease to strike the ball but missed it, giving a sharp chance for debutant wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat whip the bails off. The duo had stitched a crucial 82 runs partnership for the third wicket.
Jadeja got Matt Renshaw (0) next ball, plumb in front and soon castled Smith’s timbers with a beauty that came in. Alex Carey (36) walked in and made quick runs in the company of Peter Handscomb (31), but Ashwin broke the 53-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
He then outwitted captain Pat Cummins (6) with a ball that did not turn much. Jadeja trapped Todd Murphy plumb (0) in front to reduce Australia to 174/8.
Earlier, Australia were 76/2 at lunch after India dominated the first half of the fist session.
Australia were in trouble when they lost openers Usman Khawaja and David Warner with just two runs on the board. Spinners were expected to do the damage on a very dry track, but Mohammad Siraj and Mohammad Shami, rattled the opening pair.
Siraj dealt the first blow with his very first ball when he trapped Khawaja on the front pad on a full-ish length. The Australian opener was adjudged LBW after captain Rohit Sharma opted for DRS before consulting debutant wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat and Siraj.
Shami sizzled with a mindblowing cutter that nipped in sharply at an outstanding pace rattling the offstumps of Warner out of the ground.
Smith and Labuschagne, who is playing his first Test series in India, bailed Australia out of the woods with a fantastic 74-run unbroken stand for third wicket. A couple of balls jumped off the track, but that did not shake the grit of the Aussie pair.
The only blemish came from the blades of Smith when he tried to drive left-arm spinner Axar Patel, but gave a sharp chance to Virat Kohli in the slip who dropped it while batting on 6.
Amidst all this drama, the unbeaten batsmen walloped odd boundaries with Labuschagne and Smith, smashing eight and three boundaries, respectively.
The session points were shared by India and Australia as the hosts were in command in first half by bagging two wickets and second half belonged to the visitors who bounced back on half-century partnership.
Brief Scores: Australia 174/8 (Marnus Labuschagne 49; R Jadeja 4/45) vs India.