India finished the second day of the third Test against Australia on top despite letting the visitors take advantage in the first session.
At the PCA Stadium in Mohali, Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma struck for the hosts in the second and third sessions respectively, to leave Australia struggling at 273 for seven at stumps.
Rain gave way on day two and the match finally got underway. Michael Clarke won his third toss of the series and elected to bat first, once again. Australia, after a tumultous week, made four changes to their side. Brad Haddin came in for the injured Matthew Wade, while Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon were also selected. Shane Watson, James Pattinson and Glenn Maxwell were the other ones to make way.
India also made two changes with debutant Shikhar Dhawan coming in for Virender Sehwag, while Pragyan Ojha got his first game of the series as Harbhajan Singh missed out on playing on home turf.
Australia made their best start of the series with the openers putting on a century stand and thwarting India's efforts for the whole morning session. It seemed that the antics of the past week were finally paying off as the batsmen appeared determined not to make a mess of this chance on another fresh wicket.
Ed Cowan was stable as always and David Warner was also watchful, though more aggressive than his partner.
The pair went to lunch at 109 without loss in 36 overs, with Warner having completed his half-century. They carried on after lunch, with Cowan also bringing up his fifty and both looked good for a lot more, but then Ravindra Jadeja came on to deliver two quick blows.
The first was a soft dismissal as Warner played onto his pads and was caught by a diving Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The opening stand was worth 139 runs and Warner scored 71 runs with nine fours.
The second wicket came off the next ball and was a big blow to the visitors' hopes. Everyone had been talking about Clarke coming up the order and when he finally did, it lasted just the one ball. He stepped out to defend against Jadeja’s sharp spinner and was stumped for a golden duck.
From 139 for two there was no stopping India as they smelt blood and the spinners were bowling in tandem. Phil Hughes struggled again, but managed to score two runs against spin this time, before edging down the leg-side as Ojha got on the wickets tally.
Smith and Cowan put on 47 runs for the fourth wicket, before the opener was out caught at slip off Ravichandran Ashwin, as Virat Kohli finally managed to make a catch stick. He was out for 86 off 238 balls, with eight fours.
After that there was another 46-run partnership for the fifth wicket, this time between Smith and Haddin, both looking to attack the spinners and not get bogged down.
The two batsmen mixed aggression with caution and took Australia past 200, and closer to the 250-mark. Then Ishant dented the scoreboard twice, bowling both Haddin (21) and Moises Henriques (0) in three deliveries, undoing all the hard work of the batsmen.
At 244 for six another collapse seemed imminent, but despite the fall of Peter Siddle (0), Australia managed to see out the day. Smith batted maturely and was unbeaten on 58. Mitchell Starc was giving him good support, batting on 20.
For India, Jadeja was the best bowler on the day, with figures of three for 56 and Ishant returned two for 41 in his 50th Test. Ashwin (1-64) and Ojha (1-62) took a wicket each.
Selected quotes from the day:
Ed Cowan: "Satisfied that I was able to bat longer and had some luck going my way as well which didn’t happen in Chennai or Hyderabad. My points to the coach were about how I should be batting as long as possible and letting others build an innings around me. I am happy to bat as long as I did, because it meant my plans were working again. I tried to attack the spinners and not get bogged down.
"The pitch is similar to Hyderabad, and the odd ball is bouncing up or down, while there are cracks which give some deliveries devious cut off the seam. It will be important to keep scoring runs, once in, or wickets will fall in a heap."
Ravindra Jadeja: "I have got Michael Clarke four times in this series and it seems he is my bunny at the moment. It is important to get him put early otherwise he scores big runs.
"My plan as always was to bowl wicket to wicket and let the pitch do the rest. It will be important to get them out early tomorrow and then press for a win, if we can bat first."
© Cricket World 2013
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