Visitors gain crucial lead of 48 runs with still four wickets in hand.
Bengaluru: Matt Renshaw is a towering presence off the turf but on it, three weeks shy of his 21st birthday, he is still the baby of the team. Just four Tests-old before setting foot in the sub-continent, Renshaw, is making rapid strides.
For the second time in two Tests, the young, left-handed Queensland opener showed immense temperament and put his lack of experience aside with a studied, head-down, no-frills approach to thwart and frustrate Virat Kohli’s Indians on day when neither team dominated. yet went hard at each other.
Having been shot out for 189, Kohli realised the need for wickets as Australia resumed at 40 without loss and this is where in retrospect, the lack of fifth bowler hurt him. Importantly, he kept going back to his trump card — R. Ashwin — even over-bowling him (the offie pegged away with 35 overs) in the process as the visitors, firstly through Renshaw (60, 196b, 5x4, 1x6) and then with Shaun Marsh (66, 230m, 197b, 4x4) stymied the Indians, grinding their way to 237/6 in 106 overs.
At close on Day Two of the second Test at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium on Sunday, the wicket which had sprouted so many cracks on the first day en route to Nathan Lyon’s eight-for, didn’t spew venom as the Aussie batsmen feared or as the Indian bowlers hoped.
Significantly, the Aussies with a 48-run lead with four-wickets in hand, have gained a psychological advantage over the hosts and with three days of cricket left yet, if it goes the distance, it could prove decisive. It was all about session ascendancy and in that respect, rookie Renshaw showed the virtues of patience in almost 4-1/2 hour vigil. Ashwin whipped up the excitement early in the day, getting rid of opener David Warner with a beauty that turned from outside leg to spin past the left-hander’s bat and rock his off-stump.
In just his third over and sixth overall of the morning, it was the perfect start. The Aussies were on the back foot and Kohli consistently went in with a pace-spin combo on either ends. Ashwin was a constant and Ishant was probing in an incisive spell but Renshaw put his wrists down while skipper Steve Smith enlivened the proceedings in his banter with Ishant.
Smith hung around for 81 minutes for his eight before Kohli brought on Ravindra Jadeja, who struck in his third over getting the prize scalp of the skipper off a bat-pad which Wriddhiman Saha dived to grab with alacrity. For some reason, Kohli used Jadeja less and only in short spells, strange given that he was the most successful bowler with 3-49 from 17 overs. The Aussies weren’t complaining though and eschewed all risks.
It showed in the two small partnerships on the day — 52 for the third between Renshaw and Marsh and 57 for the sixth between Marsh and Matthew Wade. Their intent was to outlast the Indian bowlers even as the hosts went after them on the field. Unfortunately for Kohli & Co. breakthroughs weren’t quick enough and in desperation they even used up all their four reviews — the first two before 80 overs and the next two as soon as it was due, fluffing on all the four occasions.
Renshaw hoisted Jadeja over his head for a six but was flummoxed by the bowler in trying a repeat. The big question is how soon the Indians can bowl them out on the third day without letting the lead and the match drift away.