Cricket legends blow up at Test rookie Matt Renshaw
STEVE Smith will be happy with where his side is at following a mixed opening day of Australia's first Test match against India in Pune.
The visitors started strongly after winning the toss and batting but suffered collapses in the middle and lower order. It was only when Mitchell Starc came to the crease and plundered an unbeaten half century that Australia snatched back the momentum, finishing at 9/256 at stumps.
Here are all the talking points from the day's play.
LEGENDS LASH ROOKIE RENSHAW
After the perfect start from the Aussies, things quickly went from rosy to shambolic.
India broke an 82-run opening stand between David Warner and Matt Renshaw when Umesh Yadav bowled Warner. As Steve Smith made his way onto the ground, an ill Renshaw tried to go the other way.
He wanted to use the break in play to go to the toilet because he was suffering from an upset stomach.
But confusion reigned and there were conversations with his captain and the umpires, and eventually he ran off to the dressing room - retiring ill - and Shaun Marsh came to the crease for the final 15 minutes before lunch.
"What is going on here? He's retiring ill," former captain Michael Clarke said in commentary.
"With only 15 minutes to go until lunch, I can't believe he's retiring. This is unbelievable from Australia. Steve Smith doesn't know what's going on."
Another former Australian captain Allan Border said he wouldn't have forgiven Renshaw had Marsh been dismissed soon after the debacle.
"I don't think I've ever seen that before," Border told Fox Sports.
"What happened in the ensuing time, I can't even think of a situation where that has happened before. Where someone has just gone off because they are a bit ill.
"If Shaun Marsh had been dismissed in those last 15 minutes, I would have been ropeable as captain.
"I hope he's lying on the table half dead because otherwise I wouldn't be happy as captain."
Former Australian off-spinner Gavin Robertson blew up at Renshaw, furious he would expose a new batsman in such circumstances.
Renshaw responded to Border's assessment after play.
"That's just something I guess he (Border) grew up with and that was his mentality but Steve (Smith) was good and he understands when you need to go to the toilet you've got to go to the toilet," he said.
To Renshaw's credit, he battled through the bout of Delhi belly to top score for the Aussies when he made his way back to the crease in the middle session.
The Queenslander was especially aggressive after tea, looking to hoist the spinners to the leg side at every opportunity. He went on to blast 10 fours and a six before he was caught at second slip off the bowling of Ravi Ashwin for 68.
STARC PUTS AUSSIE BATSMEN TO SHAME
Mitchell Starc put Australia's batsmen to shame late on day one.
Batting at number eight, the fast bowler alternated between stout defence and outright aggression when trying to combat India's bowlers. He became the second top scorer of the visitors' innings when he hit his third six of the day to move to 43.
Opener Matt Renshaw was the most impressive with the willow, scoring 68, but until Starc came in, David Warner's 38 was the next best on the scorecard.
Starc's fifth four of the innings - a hook to backward square leg - brought up his ninth Test half century off just 47 deliveries.
His milestone was amazing not just because of how easy he was making batting look compared to his struggling teammates, but because of what was happening at the non-striker's end.
At day's end, Starc had added 51 runs for the 10th wicket with Josh Hazlewood despite Hazlewood only managing to contribute just one run to the partnership.
INDIA'S SPINNERS TRUMPED BY PACE ACE
The Indian spinners were always expected to do the damage to an Australian team with a poor reputation for playing slow bowlers in foreign conditions.
Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja demolished Australia on its last tour of India in 2013, and there were fears the twin tweakers would wreak similar havoc this time around, especially after seeing the incredibly dry pitch served up for the opening Test.
Both bowled well and troubled the Aussies at different stages, but surprisingly, it was the pace of Umesh Yadav that proved most difficult to handle.
The right-arm quick broke an 82-run opening partnership when he got David Warner to chop onto his stumps, then he came into his own when bowling reverse swing to the lower order.
He trapped Matthew Wade LBW, but the best example of his skill came later. He bowled an outswinger to Steve O'Keefe, coaxing an outside edge that was brilliantly taken by Wriddihiman Saha behind the stumps, leaping full stretch to his right.
The very next ball Yadav got the ball to go the other way, catching Nathan Lyon in front of his stumps with a textbook inswinger. He finished with 4/32 from 12 overs.
Ashwin and Jadeja both picked up two scalps each. Ashwin was the most economical of the bowlers, conceding just 59 runs from 34 overs, but on a pitch that turned square from the opening overs, the Indian tweakers were trumped by an unexpected pace ace.
'HOW THE HELL?': KHAWAJA SNUBBED
Despite a profitable Australian summer,was dropped for the first Test in Pune and replaced by Shaun Marsh.
Selectors opted for Marsh because of the West Australian's impressive record on the subcontinent (he's scored two of his four Test centuries in Sri Lanka), whereas Khawaja was dropped for the final Test of Australia's tour of Sri Lanka midway through 2016 following concerns about his ability to handle the turning ball.
But Marsh failed to reward the selectors' faith, managing just 16 before he was caught at leg slip courtesy of a botched sweep shot.
His brother Mitchell had an even unhappier time, falling for four after playing back to Ravindra Jadeja and getting struck on the pad, out LBW.
The all-rounder was dropped during last summer's home Test series against South Africa because of his struggles with the bat but received the call up to the final XI in Pune because his seamers provided an extra bowling option in an attack with only two specialist fast bowlers.
However, if he fails to score consistent runs at no. 6 it will become more and more difficult to justify his place in the team. Marsh had played 19 Tests before this one for a batting average of just 23.18 - hardly inspiring stuff for a team aiming to overturn a horrible record in Asia.
Khawaja has every reason to feel aggrieved at being dropped considering his recent form in the whites. He scored half centuries in each of his six Tests against South Africa and Pakistan last summer, including a matchwinning knock of 145 against the Proteas in Adelaide.
Captain Virat Kohli opened the bowling with Ravi Ashwin in the second over, such was the assistance on offer for the spinners.
The ball turned markedly from the beginning in a sign that batting will only get tougher as the match goes on.
Shane Warne was surprised with the condition of the pitch on the morning of the first day's play.
"I was just talking to (Indian legend) Ravi Shastri and I don't think we've ever seen a pitch that dry to start with for day one," Warne said.
"It looks like a day eight pitch before the ball's been bowled. It hasn't been watered for four days apparently ... I think it's going to be a quick one."
During the first session Warne took his evaluation of the track to a new level. "It looks like the surface of Mars already," he said.
Former India opener Aakash Chopra could barely believe the surface put up for the first game of the series.
"In my time in India I've never seen a pitch as abrasive as this," Chopra said in commentary for ABC Grandstand. "We haven't seen these pitches in India for a long time."
Ravi Shastri played 80 Tests and 150 ODIs for his country, but even he was gobsmacked at the 22 yards the curator presented. "I have never seen a pitch like this in Indian conditions," he said.
India is renowned as a paradise for spinners, but in recent years, assistance for the slow men has been far less pronounced than during Tests of yesteryear. Yes, the pitches still take considerable turn, but often during the last couple of days of the match rather than from the first over.
But Thursday marked a different approach, no doubt done with the aim of exploiting Australia's weakness against the turning ball.