KL Rahul averted a total batting disaster for India on the first day of the second Test against Australia and said cracks on the M Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch was likely to open up making batting more difficult. (DAY 1 Highlights) (DAY 2 BLOG)
The last time India were dismissed for under 200 in three consecutive innings at home was 40 years ago, against England in 1977. Being skittled out for 189 after managing only 212 runs in both innings put together in the heavy defeat in the Pune Test has put the hosts in a bind.
Rahul took his chances in the morning before settling down, but saw wickets tumble at the other end as off-spinner Nathan Lyon’s 8/50 ran through the line-up.
“The wicket was pretty dry and the cracks were prominent there. Their bowlers, especially when (Mitchell) Starc bowls from over the wicket, he creates that rough for Lyon, which helps them get that spin and bounce,” he told reporters after the day’s play.
Australia were 40 for no loss in 16 overs, but Rahul expected Ravichandran Ashwin to come good on the track.
“The cracks are opening up and it’s only getting harder to bat on this wicket. We know Ash (Ashwin) is a top-class bowler and once he gets a couple of wickets and gets into that rhythm then he is going to run through the Australian batting line-up, which we are very confident of,” Rahul said.
(Ravindra) Jadeja didn’t get to bowl a lot today but like Lyon, he too has a lot of rough for the left-handers outside the off-stump and if he can come in and bowl consistently on the rough we will get a lot of wickets.”
Rahul, who struck 64 in India’s first innings 105 in Pune, again made the bulk of the runs, especially with fellow opener Murali Vijay out due to injury. Rahul admitted he still had pain in the shoulder due to the problem which flared up in the first Test, and avoided playing the lofted shot till towards the end when he ran out of partners.
Rahul showed his mettle as he held firm while wickets tumbled at the other end. He looked good for a century before he fell to Lyon as the ninth wicket, holing out to mid-off.
“That was the stroke which was giving me a bit of a problem in Pune. So I had to restrict it. But in the last few overs, I had to look to take that chance and risk, which I knew would give me some pain. I looked to continue and tried to play a few shots, which didn’t go my way.”
He said Lyon got bounce due to dampness on the pitch in the morning, but it dried up later. “Once the ball got older, and there was more rough outside off-stump, Lyon exploited that. He kept bowling there consistently and got some purchase out of the wicket. That’s about it.”
Rahul defended the other batsmen. “Virat’s ball didn’t spin as much. The whole over it was spinning and bouncing and that ball went straight, which can happen. Karun and Ajinkya looked set. We were getting runs quite easily. Our game plan was to attack the spinners whenever we could, but sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.”