Shami, Ashwin share spoils to put India on top

India gained a strong grip over the first Test at the end of the fourth day, needing a further six wickets to go one up in the series, while Australia have 219 to get on a fifth day pitch.
Set a steep target of 323, Australia lost two wickets each to R Ashwin and Mohammed Shami, before a patient Shaun Marsh and Tavis Head saw them through till the end of the day.
Earlier, Nathan Lyon picked up a six-wicket haul as India lost their last seven wickets for 73 runs to be bowled out for 307. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane had scored fifties to extend India’s advantage in the first session, only for it to be cut down sharply with the collapse.
Both the overnight batsmen, Pujara and Rahane, put on an 87-run stand for the fourth wicket to start the day well for India. After a largely luckless session, Lyon was rewarded with the wickets of Pujara for 71 and Rohit Sharma (1) in quick succession, but by then India had got into a position of comfort.That had come about with both batsmen continuing to negate the threat of Lyon around the footmarks with decisive footwork. Australia’s pacers remained unthreatening with the second new ball, making Lyon Australia’s sole wicket-taking danger.
Pujara continued to use his pads to good effect against Lyon, getting a fifty to add to his hundred in the first innings, while Rahane cashed in on the loose offerings from the bowlers to get to his 16th Test fifty.With their contributions helping India get 109 runs in the first session, the visitors went into the break with an overall lead of 275 and threatening to bat Australia out of the game.
Post the break, Rishabh Pant came out swinging against Lyon, hitting him for three fours and a six off consecutive deliveries. However, his short cameo was cut down with Lyon having him caught at deep extra cover.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma succumbed to short-pitched deliveries from Mitchell Starc while Rahane was Lyon’s fifth victim, reverse-sweeping to point. The quick wrap-up of the innings left Australia with a glimmer of hope, despite the daunting target ahead of them.
The chase could have gone wrong early with Ishant Sharma trapping Aaron Finch LBW with an incoming delivery once again. But Finch’s optimistic DRS call helped overturn the decision despite it being umpire’s call as Ishant was seen to have overstepped.
But that slice of luck was not enough for Finch, who was given out caught bat-pad in the last over before Tea off Ashwin to give India a boost at the break. Intriguingly, he consulted his opening partner and eventually decided against reviewing the decision, even as replays showed that there was no bat or glove involved. His partner, Marcus Harris was caught behind playing an expansive shot against Shami while a scratchy Usman Khawaja was out caught in the deep as he tried to break the shackles against Ashwin.
Peter Handscomb and Marsh saw off over thirteen overs in a determined stand to steady Australia. But once again a soft dismissal, Handscomb mistiming a pull to midwicket, meant that the balance tilted in India’s favour by Stumps.