Late Starc flurry saves Aussies' blushes
A DASHING rearguard action from Mitchell Starc helped Australia reach 9-256 at stumps on day one of the first Test against India in Pune.
Starc's 57 not out from just 58 deliveries, most of which came in a brilliant 51-run final wicket stand with Josh Hazlewood (one not out), kept Australia in the contest after they slumped from 2-149 to 9-205.
Matt Renshaw was the only other batsman to provide sustained resistance, with the youngest ever Australian to play a Test in India compiling a composed 68 in trying conditions.
Steve Smith's decision to bat first was vindicated when Renshaw and opening partner David Warner put on a gutsy 82 for the opening wicket.
But drama unfolded when Warner was out chopping on to his stumps to Umesh Yadav for 38, bringing Smith to the crease.
With 15 minutes to the break, Renshaw began to leave the field to use the bathroom as Smith tried to join him in the middle.
He was called back by umpire Nigel Llong and after a brief discussion was allowed to leave - but only if he retired ill, which he did on 36.
His exit brought Shaun Marsh to the crease, and the recalled batsman did well to reach lunch but fell for 16 shortly after, caught at leg slip off the back of his bat.
Peter Handscomb compiled 22 but was trapped in front by Jadeja and when Steve Smith departed for 27 the next over, chipping Ravi Ashwin to Virat Kohli at mid-on, Australia sat precariously at 4-149.
Renshaw returned to the crease after overcoming his illness and continued to assert himself against the spin. He passed 50 in his first Test innings on the subcontinent but received little support as Mitchell Marsh (four) and Matthew Wade (eight) came and went quickly.
But when Renshaw departed for 68, and Steve O'Keefe and Nathan Lyon departed in consecutive deliveries without scoring, Australia was in strife at 9-205.
Starc took the attack to India with a series of lusty leg side blows, crunching five fours and three sixes to bring up his ninth Test 50 and 1000 runs in the five-day game.
Despite the crumbling, spinning conditions, the pick of India's bowlers was fast-man Umesh Yadav. He returned an excellent 4-32 from 12 overs, using reverse swing as his primary weapon after not being seen until 15 minutes before lunch in the first session as spin dominated.
Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja finished the day with two wickets apiece, while India's third spinner Jayant Yadav collected one.