Umesh Yadav, Virat Kohli, India, Australia, 1st Test
India fast bowler Umesh Yadav picked up four wickets on day one, on a wicket that was tailor-made for the spinnersReuters

Turn was not quite on offer from ball one, more like ball eight, and after Australia showed plenty of quality and fight with the bat, particularly from their openers, India looked to have worn down the visitors on day one of the first Test in Pune, before a Mitchell Starc storm hit them.

India vs Australia 1st Test, Day 1 highlights

Hosting their first ever Test match, the MCA stadium curator decided to give the two teams a dry-as-they come wicket and Steve Smith, who said he expects it to turn from ball one, had no hesitation in batting first after winning the toss.

The onus then was on the openers David Warner and Matt Renshaw to find a way to survive the inevitable spin onslaught, and they did that to great effect.

But, once India got into the Aussie middle order, the wickets started falling, with Australia losing their ninth wicket on 205 – Umesh Yadav, ironically, was the star with the ball, picking up four wickets. It looked like the India openers would have more than half an hour of batting to do, but Mitchell Starc had no plans of bowling on day one.

Starc put on an unbeaten 51 runs with Josh Hazlewood for the final wicket, with the latter scoring all of one run in that partnership, leaving India with a little more work to do on day two morning, before they can contemplate batting on this tricky wicket.

Warner and Renshaw, coming off a series win in Australia against Pakistan, would have felt like a fish out of water as R Ashwin came on to bowl in the second over of the match.

But once they settled in and brought their solid defences out, they negotiated the turn and bounce – and there was plenty of that on offer – from all three of the India spinners.

Matt Renshaw, Australia, India, series, 1st Test
Matt Renshaw was the top scorer for Australia, with 68, February 23, 2017Reuters

The beauty of their opening wicket partnership was that they were always in the hunt for singles and turning over the strike, while making sure every single one of those bad balls were put away for a boundary.

Yes, there was luck involved in the partnership – Warner survived after getting bowled off a no-ball – but the intent was great and the most impressive aspect was that both the left-handers trusted their defences.

That defence did fail Warner when India finally found a way through, after the left-hander went across a little too much to try and snuffle out the extra spin. Jayant Yadav bowled a quicker one that slid through after pitching on middle to clip the leg-stump. However, it was a no-ball, and a massive one at that.

Too many times in the recent past, India have lost wickets by overstepping in all three formats of the game, and this will surely be starting to grate both Kohli and coach Anil Kumble.

It was luck that Warner deserved, though, and with every passing over, you could sense the frustration amongst the India bowlers increasing and the confidence of the two batsmen growing.

Kohli finally gave the ball to his second pacer in the team – Umesh – for the first time in the 28th over and the fast bowler answered his captain's call, dismissing Warner (38, 77b, 6x4), who played one onto the stumps.

Bizarrely, Australia had to play the final 20 minutes of the first session with two new batsmen in the crease as Renshaw (36, 89b, 4x4, 1x6) retired hurt – he apparently was struggling with an upset stomach – right after Warner's wicket.

Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh negotiated the final few minutes of the session to make sure more damage wasn't done.

In the second session, with the pitch playing a lot better – there was still turn, but with the ball older, it wasn't quite as alarming – Smith and Marsh carried on Warner and Renshaw's solid work, with the same plan working for them as well – trust the defence, take the quick singles and put the bad balls away.

Virat Kohli, India, Shaun Marsh, Australia, 1st Test
India captain Virat Kohli celebrates after taking the catch to dismiss Australia left-hander Shaun Marsh in the first Test, February 23, 2017Reuters

The two batsmen, who came into this Test match after scoring centuries in the warm-up, put on 37 runs in a little over 19 overs, with Jayant breaking the partnership off a well worked out plan. With a leg-slip in place, Jayant got Marsh (16, 55b, 3x4) to sweep, the ball hit the pad instead of the bat and as the batsman swung around he caught up with the ball, with it kissing the back of the bat before falling into the lap of Kohli.

This is the kind of wicket where you feel if you get one, you can two, three or even four. So, India, who wasted their two reviews inside 40 overs, would have hoped to break Australia's back with that Marsh wicket, but it wasn't to be.

Again, Australia showed they haven't come into this series just to make up the numbers, with Peter Handscomb battling really well with his skipper to put on another handy partnership.

Just when it was growing into a dangerous one, though, Jadeja struck, getting a quicker one to sneak through and his Handscomb (22, 45b, 3x4) plumb in front 15 minutes before Tea.

That one wicket brings more thing worked this time, however, with Ashwin picking up his first, when Smith (27, 95b, 2x4) lobbed one straight to Kohli at short mid-on.

Mitchell Marsh nearly fell soon after, when he was given out caught behind to Ashwin. The all-rounder reviewed and replays showed the ball had brushed his back pad on its way to Wriddhiman Saha's gloves.

Marsh (4, 18b) and Renshaw, back after retiring hurt to deal with an upset stomach, had to put on a partnership to give Australia a sold score, but it wasn't to be as the former was trapped in front by another Jadeja quicker one that came in with the arm.

Matthew Wade (8, 20b, 1x4) stuck around for a little while, giving Renshaw, who was quite brilliant playing the spinners, company, before Umesh came in and got one to tail-in late to get the lbw decision.

Mitchell Starc, Australia, India, 1st Test
Mitchell Starc whacks the ball for a six during his unbeaten half-century on day one of the first Test match, February 23, 2017Reuters

Ashwin then picked up the big wicket of Renshaw, who could not ride the extra bounce with the edge carrying through to Murali Vijay at second slip.

Umesh picked the second and third wickets of his spell off consecutive deliveries – Steve O'Keefe caught behind quite brilliantly by a diving Saha and Nathan Lyon trapped in front by another one that tailed-in.

Australia weren't done fighting, however, as Mitchell Starc made full use of the brand new ball, smashing both the spinners and pacers for quite a few boundaries to bulge that final score past the 250 mark.


First innings: Australia: 256/9 in 94 overs.

Batting in the middle: Mitchell Starc (57, 58b, 5x4, 3x6) and Josh Hazlewood (1, 31b).

Bowling: First innings: India: Ishant Sharma 11-0-27-0; R Ashwin 34-10-59-2; Jayant Yadav 13-1-58-1; Ravindra Jadeja 24-4-74-2; Umesh Yadav 12-3-32-4.

Fall of wickets: First innings: Australia: 82/1, David Warner (27.2 overs); 119/2, Shaun Marsh (46.4 overs); 149/3, Peter Handscomb (59.2 overs); 149/4, Steve Smith (60.1 overs); 166/5, Mitchell Marsh (67.4 overs); 190/6, Matthew Wade (75.4 overs); 196/7, Matt Renshaw (78.3 overs); 205/8, Steve O'Keefe (81.4 overs); 205/9, Nathan Lyon (81.5 overs).