Australia skipper Tim Paine showed what it takes to battle it out against an in-form bowling attack with a gutsy unbeaten 73, but it was the Indian bowlers who held fort and put the visitors in the driving seat on the second day of the day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval on Friday. If Ashwin spun a web with figures of 4/55, Umesh Yadav showed why he is the unsung hero of the Indian bowling attack as he finished with 3/40.
Having taken a 53-run lead -- something which could have been more had the last three Australian wickets not added 80 runs - India were 9/1 in the second essay when the umpires ended play on the second night. The 62-run lead with nine wickets in the bag could prove to be crucial as the wicket isn't getting any better for batting. Mayank Agarwal (5) and nightwatchman Jasprit Bumrah (0) will look to start afresh after battling it out against Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc in the dying stages of the second day.
With Prithvi Shaw sent back for just 4 by Pat Cummins - once again with the ball coming in through the gap in pad and bat - the Indian management decided to send Bumrah to the middle and he looked to be taking confidence from his fifty in the practice game as he looked solid in defending anything on and around the off-stump.
But the day certainly belonged to the duo of Ashwin and Umesh. Both have often been the ones sacrificed whenever the team has found the need to cut out a spinner or remove an extra fast bowler from the XI. But on Friday, they stole the show after Bumrah sent the openers back in the last half of the opening session.
While Ashwin started by picking the all-important wicket of Steve Smith (1), Umesh picked the man who was looking to stand tall and script a fightback - Marnus Labuschagne (47). With the duo constantly picking wickets, it looked like India would bag a lead of over 100. But skipper Tim Paine had other ideas as he kept battling it out with quality contributions from both Starc (15) and Nathan Lyon (10). More than the runs, the 37 balls that the two combined to play out, kept giving Paine more confidence to stick it out and get closer to the Indian total of 244.
Australia finally folded for 191 as Umesh returned to end Josh Hazlewood's stay at the crease (8 off 10 balls in 25 minutes). While Mohammad Shami didn't pick a wicket, he bowled impressively and finished with the best economy rate of 2.41. India's fielding also left a lot to be desired and catches went down left, right and centre.
The two moments that stood out in the field for India both involved Ashwin. While the first one was when he bowled one slightly shorter and got it to straighten after pitching to take Smith's edge, the second was a long hop from him that all-rounder Cameron Green (11) hit wide off Kohli who pulled off a brilliant catch, diving to his right.
Earlier, India managed to add just 11 runs to their overnight score as Cummins and Starc made short work of the Indian lower-order. While Starc finished with figures of 4/53, Cummins returned figures of 3/48. While the first hour looked a little disappointing for the Indians, Bumrah handed India the upper hand with the ball towards the close of the opening session as he sent back the Australian openers in quick succession.
Brief Scores: India 244 and 9/1 (Cummins 1/6); Australia 191 (Paine 73*, Labuschagne 47; Ashwin 4/55, Umesh 3/40)