BENGALURU, March 5: Australian batsmen showed commendable application to claim the upper-hand against India with a vital 48-run first innings lead after reaching 237 for six on an engaging second day of the second Test here.
Young opener Matt Renshaw (60) and experienced Shaun Marsh (66) battled hard against the Indian spinners. Their fighting half-centuries consolidated Australia�s position in the match but Virat Kohli�s captaincy left a lot to be desired.
On a pitch aiding spinners, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (3/49), the home team�s top wicket-taker, got to bowl only 17 overs compared to Ravichandran Ashwin (1/75 in 41 overs).
While Ashwin bowled a tight line and beat the bat on occasions, it was Jadeja, who looked like the most lethal among Indian bowlers. To their credit, the Australians gave a better account of themselves on a two-paced pitch.
Jadeja was using the rough created on both sides of the stumps more effectively but Kohli�s decision was baffling as he even gave Karun Nair an over in the end.
It was perhaps one of the most intense and intriguing days of Test cricket in the current home season where the batting team managed a total of 197 runs off 90 overs in a single day�s play.
A first innings lead of even 100 runs would be as good as a 175-run lead on this track, which would make it even more difficult for the Indian batsmen, already under pressure after three poor innings of under 200 runs.
Unlike India, Australia had some good partnerships including a 52-run opening stand between David Warner (33) and Renshaw after which the former was bowled by a classical off-break from Ashwin.
Skipper Steve Smith (8), for a change, was dismissed cheaply with Wriddhiman Saha taking a fantastic catch off Jadeja�s bowling.
But the partnership that turned out to be crucial was the one between Renshaw and Marsh senior which yielded 52 runs.
The duo came together at 82 for 2 and they consumed more than 25 overs. It was the manner in which they handled Umesh Yadav�s reverse swing and the two spinners which made it difficult for the home team.
Renshaw, in particular, was a revelation during his 196-ball stay. He showed solid defensive technique and hit five fours and a six off Jadeja before being stumped.
Marsh, however, got an able ally in Matthew Wade (25 batting). The duo added 57 runs for the sixth wicket during which they got past India�s first innings total.
One cannot take anything away from the two Indian pacers Ishant Sharma (1/39 in 23 overs) and Yadav (1/57 in 24 overs), who bowled their hearts out with little success.
Umesh in particular bowled an engaging spell during the first session where his reverse swing kept both Renshaw and Smith on tenterhooks.
Umesh finally was rewarded at the fag end of the day when Marsh clipped one to Karun at short mid-wicket having faced 197 balls hitting four boundaries.
The best part about Australian batting today was a Queenslander (Renshaw) and a Western Australian (Marsh) blunting the Indian spin twins having grown up on a staple diet of fast bowling in their region.
They were ready to wait for the loose deliveries as in the 106 overs so far, the Australian batsmen have hit only 18 boundaries and a six.
They ran singles well and after a point in time, one could feel that Ashwin was overbowled. He looked jaded now into his 11th straight Test match in the home season.
India 1st innings: 189 all out
Australia 1st innings: David Warner b Ashwin 33, Matt Renshaw st Saha b Jadeja 60, Steve Smith c Saha b Jadeja 8, Shaun Marsh c Nair b Yadav 66, Peter Handscomb c Ashwin b Jadeja 16, Mitchell Marsh lbw b Sharma 0, Matthew Wade not out 25, Mitchell Starc not out 14. Extras: (B-8, LB-2, NB-5) 15. Total: (For 6 wickets in 106 overs) 237. Fall of wickets: 1-52, 2-82, 3-134, 4-160, 5-163, 6-220. Bowling: I Sharma 23-6-39-1, UT Yadav 24-7-57-1, R Ashwin 41-10-75-1, RA Jadeja 17-1-49-3, KK Nair 1-0-7-0. � PTI