@ BENGALURU: It wasn’t quite like the bloodbath of the Pune match, but still not quite the total India would have liked to put up in the first innings of the second Test here at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. The need of the hour was partnerships but the hosts could muster only one, the second wicket stand of 61 between KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara. India were bowled out for 189 in 71.2 overs and Australia made a confident start as they were 40 for no loss at the end of the first day's play. Karnataka batsman KL Rahul was the only bright spark with his knock of 90. Steve O’Keefe’s 12 wickets spelt doom in their previous encounter. India needed to pull something special out of their hat. With the promise that the wicket here would be better suited to a proper contest, there was hope that India would be able to put up a competitive score. But that was not to be as off-spinner Nathan Lyon ran riot, returning with figures of 8 for 50.
Making it back into the team due to M Vijay’s shoulder injury, Abhinav Mukund was out before opening his account. Rahul and Pujara’s second wicket partnership gave India hope but once the latter was dismissed for 17, it was an uphill battle. India’s batting line-up has been in the limelight for the right reasons in the recent past. Home series' against New Zealand and England threw up some wonderful batting displays. From that to batting collapses against Australia in the current series is surprising. Captain Virat Kohli, Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane all bit the dust cheaply. “I don’t think Virat and Ajinkya threw away their wickets,” Rahul said later. “You have to try to unsettle bowlers and take chances.
The delivery to Virat didn’t spin as much. It was spinning and bouncing the whole over but that ball went straight and these things happen. “Karun and Ajinkya looked set when they were batting on 20 each. We were getting runs easily. Our plan was to attack the spinners whenever we could but sometimes it just doesn't go your way,” he added. The first day pitch was offering spinners a bit of assistance, though not quite to the extent as in Pune. But it was enough to give Australia a reason to smile. The key is obviously to get a good opening partnership. Winning the toss was a good start.
The right hand-left hand opening combo of Rahul and Mukund could have unsettled the Australian bowlers but the latter’s early exit was not good news. “Opening partnerships are very important. That hasn’t happened and Abhinav has just come into the team. We work very hard and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't,” Rahul stated. “Somebody has to put their hands up and get runs. We go out there with the intent of getting a big partnership and if it doesn't happen, we have to try to improve.” Karun Nair’s return to the team seemed to be promising. There was a sense of calm during his stay with Rahul. But once their fifth-wicket partnership of 38 ended, it was only single figures for the rest.