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Rohit Sharma, Jadeja, Axar put India in driver's seat despite Murphy's fifer
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Rohit Sharma, Jadeja, Axar put India in driver's seat despite Murphy's fifer

| @indiablooms | 10 Feb 2023, 06:47 pm

Nagpur: Indian skipper Rohit Sharma's 120 and valiant fifties by Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, helped India take a lead of 144 runs over Australia on a spinning and bouncing track at the Vidarbha Cricket Association here on Friday.

At the end of Day 2 of the first Test, India were 321/7 with Jadeja and Ashwin batting on 66 and 52, respectively.

Debutant Todd Murphy had a cracking beginning to his career as he bagged five wickets and pinned the hosts' batsmen down in crucial stages of India's innings. However, the hosts fought the odds out and stamped their their authority on the match.

The 81-run partnership for the 8th wicket squeezed out the enthusiasm of the Aussies towards the end of the day. Axar got to his second Test fifty and Jadeja his 18th.

Rohit scripted the turnaround as he dropped anchor to crack a classy century on a turning track.

For Australia, Murphy continued to impress as he prized out Ashwin, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli in quick succession. Nathan Lyon crashed through Suryakumar's gate, but Jadeja came in and dropped anchor to take over the baton from his captain.

Pat Cummins picked rhythm with the second new ball and sent Rohit's off stump cartwheeling after a catch had gone begging in the slip in the same over.

At tea, India were 226/5 after a brief wobble from Murphy. The debutant spinner sent back Kohli who was caught on the legside by Alex Carey on the very first ball of the post-lunch session.

Suryakumar Yadav started his Test career with his trademark sweep shot for a boundary, but did not last long as he was cleaned up by Nathan Lyon, with India trailing by 8 runs and half of the side back in the pavilion.

Rohit got to his first century as a captain with a chip over cover off Murphy, helping India take the lead.

Jadeja lent good support to Rohit, who put away a few loose deliveries over the fence and had a close shave off Murphy as the TV umpire denied an LBW shout.

In the first session, India started the proceedings with overnight batsmen Rohit and Ravichandran Ashwin, who garnered useful runs early on. Despite Murphy struck twice in the first session, Rohit reduced the deficit to 26 runs with a classy unbeaten 85 runs at lunch.

India were then 151/3 with Kohli batting on 12, giving company to Rohit at the other end. Both overnight batsmen frustrated the Aussies. They made useful runs, but were fortunate to have got a few boundaries off outside edges. Soon the partnership reached 42 runs for the second wicket, that's when Murphy managed to strike Ashwin on the front pad.

The on field umpire judged it not out, but Australia opted for the DRS which yielded the TV umpire's decision in their favour after the nightwatchman had scored 23 runs.

Pujara played an uncharacteristic knock of seven runs. His aggressive approach brought about the willower's downfall as he ended up giving a simple catch to short fine leg while trying to sweep Murphy who bagged his third wicket.

Rohit had a foot-in-mouth moment when Murphy appealed for leg before and catch, but ended up losing the review on both counts.

As India slipped to 135/3, Kohli joined Rohit and saw to it that India did not lose any further wicket. The former captain looked in sublime touch as he hammered a couple of full-pitched balls to get India closer to Australia's 177.

For Australia, Scott Boland and Murphy showed the way instead of usual suspects Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon. The duo bowled in tandem and dried up runs for India, building pressure which resulted in Murphy breaking the overnight partnership.

The Aussies need to quickly wrap up India's first innings in the first session of Day 3, otherwise they would find themselves in a deep hole tomorrow.

Brief Scores: Australia 177 all out (Marnus Labuschagne 49; R Jadeja 5/47) India 321/7 (Rohit Sharma 120, Ravindra Jadeja 66*, Axar Patel 52*; Todd Murphy 5-82) lead by 144 runs.

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