Ravichandran Ashwin registered a three-fer while Jasprit Bumrah took four wickets as India restricted hosts Australia to a partly total of 196 on Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test. Skipper Ajinkya Rahane's decision to introduce Ashwin early into the attacked reaped benefits as the experienced tweaked first dismissed Matthew Wade before taking the wicket of big fish, Steve Smith, in his next over.
Smith fell for a duck while trying to work Ashwin's loopy delivery on the leg side. Australia's batting mainstay gave it straight to Cheteshwar Pujara at the leg slip as Ashwin put the visitors in a commanding position. Interestingly, it was Smith's first duck against India in the traditional format of the game.
Along with Ashwin and Bumrah, debutant Mohammed Siraj also plucked two wickets as the Indian bowling unit curbed Australia to a modest total. At stumps, India were 36/1 with Shubman Gill (28) and Pujara (7) in the middle.
After being jolted with Mayank Agarwal's early departure, the Gill-Pujara duo steadied India's innings to shrug memories of the team's horrendous show in Adelaide Test. At the end of Day 1, the touring party trails by 159 runs.
Meanwhile, former India opener Virender Sehwag took a cheeky jibe at India's lacklustre show in pink-ball Test where they had registered a total of 36/9 in the second innings -- their lowest-ever total in their 88-year history of Test cricket. Sehwag also acknowledged Ajinkya Rahane's bowling changes and field placement at the MCG.
"Outstanding bowling changes and really smart fielding placements from Rahane. And the bowlers delivered. Ashwin, Bumrah, Siraj were absolutely brilliant. Great effort to get Australia all out for 195 on the first day.
Now for the batters to get a good first innings lead and score so much that don’t have to chase more than 36 in fourth innings," wrote Sehwag on Instagram.
Visitors India trail 0-1 in the series after going down by eight wickets in the opening Day-Night Test in Adelaide.