Aust top or­der bat­ting crum­bles

The Timaru Herald - - $ -

Aus­tralia’s top or­der crum­bled with the bat yet again, re­lin­quish­ing the as­cen­dancy at Ade­laide Oval with the hosts scrap­ping to 117-4 at tea on day two of the first test against In­dia.

The home side’s star-stud­ded pace at­tack ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions by re­strict­ing In­dia to 250, com­plet­ing the in­nings when Josh Ha­zle­wood struck with Fri­day’s first ball.

But the ques­tion was al­ways go­ing to be whether Aus­tralia could scrape to­gether a win­ning score in the ab­sence of sus­pended su­per­stars Steve Smith and David Warner, on whom they have re­lied so much in re­cent years. It’s too early to an­swer but Pe­ter Hand­scomb and Travis Head, un­beaten on 33 and 17 re­spec­tively, face a big ask as they con­tinue to chip away at In­dia’s 133-run lead.

Aaron Finch, Mar­cus Har­ris, Us­man Khawaja and Shaun Marsh were swept aside as their side slipped to 87-4.

Ravichan­dran Ash­win, the gun off­spin­ner whose test bowl­ing av­er­age in Aus­tralia was an un­flat­ter­ing 54.71 be­fore this game, ac­counted for left-han­ders Har­ris, Khawaja and Marsh.

Har­ris and Khawaja, who shared a watch­ful 45-run stand af­ter Finch chopped on in the first over for a third-ball duck, were un­done on 26 and 28 re­spec­tively by chal­leng­ing, wellflighted de­liv­er­ies.

Marsh’s sixth-con­sec­u­tive sin­gle-fig­ure score at test level was more of a gift.

Marsh’s eyes lit up at the sight of a wide de­liv­ery floated out­side off stump by Ash­win but, rather than crack it through cov­ers, the vet­eran man­aged a thick edge that dis­lodged the leg bail.

Finch, play­ing his first home Test, at­tempted a loose cover drive to a ball from Ishant Sharma that de­served more re­spect and ul­ti­mately up­rooted two stumps.

Har­ris fared much bet­ter on de­but, last­ing 57 de­liv­er­ies and sur­viv­ing a test­ing early ex­am­i­na­tion that in­cluded Jasprit Bum­rah con­sis­tently sling­ing the ball down at more than 145 km/h. AAP

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