Australia’s newest spin sensation Todd Murphy helped keep the tourists alive in the first Test, but India remain in full control in Nagpur after building a 144-run lead.
After just seven top-flight games, Murphy became the 35th Australian to win five wickets in the Test debut after knocking down the key pillars of India’s star-studded batsman.
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India faltered 7-321 on day two, well ahead of Australia’s modest total of 177, but the contest would have been over were it not for the bespectacled Murphy (5-82) working his magic.
Australia would have to put up one of their greatest comebacks of all time to win from here but at least they have a light pulse, although Steve Smith missed two real chances on Friday, the second of which came on the penultimate ball of the day.
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Smith responded to a sharp chance off the outside edge of Ravindra Jadeja’s racquet and got the ball with a full right hand but couldn’t hold on.
“What a nightmare this is for a Slips fieldsman,” former Australian batter and Slips fielder Matthew Hayden said in a comment.
“He should have tried harder. Concentration factor, penultimate ball of the day – bang. You have to be there.”
India opener Rohit Sharma stormed a masterful 120 in his native city to the delight of his home crowd, his first test century as captain.
But by the time star all-rounder Ravi Jadeja (66nr) got into the crease, Australia had contained most of the damage from which most of Sharma’s racquet came.
Jadeja and Axar Patel (No. 52) will resume on Saturday after forging an important 81-run partnership.
The hosts appeared to be racing to establish an unassailable lead as they started 1-77 on Friday, but Murphy hit the first four wickets of India’s innings.
The 22-year-old sacked night guard Ravichandran Ashwin and prolific No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara before lunch after removing KL Rahul late on day one.
Murphy – and his family, who flew to India after leaving the Victorian-NSW border town of Moama three days ago – will never forget his first ball after lunch.
The Victorian, picked with a first class 25.20 average, fired Virat Kohli, India’s former captain and one of the all-time greatest batsmen.
Wicketkeeper Alex Carey capitalized on a tough chance after fumbling the ball and Kohli was only gone for 12.
Murphy’s fifth wicket came after an unconvincing DRS transfer but it was good enough to sack India’s wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat.
His heroism meant all four Australian bowlers in that match – the others being Pat Cummins, Scott Boland and Nathan Lyon – won five wickets in their Test debuts.
Murphy is the first Australian to reach that milestone since Boland’s famous 6-7 against England at the MCG in 2021.
It was hard not to draw comparisons between Murphy’s Test debut and Lyon’s in 2011, when the senior spinner won Australia’s 5-34 win over Sri Lanka in Galle.
Lyon (1-98) has 461 Test wickets to his credit but he was comfortably outscored by Murphy, who is 13 years his junior.
Despite Murphy’s exploits, Jadeja, 34, has threatened to win the game solo for India.
In his first Test since July after knee surgery, Jadeja reinforced his 5-47 with the ball, forging key partnerships with Sharma and then Patel, notching the 18th half-century of his career.
But the left-hander had two lucky charms when the umpire called off Murphy and Cummins’ bowling, preventing him from losing his wicket.
https://7news.com.au/sport/cricket/nightmare-finish-to-day-2-for-australia-as-india-take-control-of-first-test-in-nagpur-with-144-run-lead-c-9719912 ‘Nightmare’ closes Day 2 for Steve Smith and Australia as India take control of the first test in Nagpur with a 144 run lead