After his side's dismal batting performance in the first innings of the third Test against Australia in Indore, Indian batting coach Vikram Rathour defended his side's performance, saying that it was just an off day as a batting unit and pitch offered a more sharper turn due to moisture.
Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja continued his stunning show with the ball, but a second-wicket partnership between Usman Khawaja, who scored a fifty and Marnus Labuschagne, denied the hosts an opportunity to continue their domination over Australia, taking the visitors to 156/4 at the end of the first day of play in the third Test at Indore on Wednesday.
"The wicket was definitely challenging. It turned way more than we expected and the turn was sharper due to moisture. We definitely could have scored more, but I do not think we played poorly or rashly. It was just an off-day for us as a batting unit," said Vikram in a press conference after the end of the day's play.
But the coach remarked that as time went and Australia came to play, the turn became less sharp.
"Credit to Australia for the way they bowled, they bowled in good areas," he added.
The batting coach said that the side prefers to bat on turning tracks since "it is their strength."
"We prefer playing in turning tracks, it is our strength. This is a one-off wicket. The two wickets in earlier Tests were not bad, we preferred them. Today, it was drier than expected. Perhaps, curators did not get time to prepare the wicket as the shift of venue of match from Dharamshala to here was announced late," said Rathour.
At the end of the day's play, Peter Handscomb (7*) and all-rounder Cameron Green (6*) were unbeaten for the Aussies. They lead India by 47 runs.
Australia resumed their innings at 71/1 after tea, with Usman Khawaja (33*) and Marnus Labuschagne (16*) unbeaten.
Khawaja and Labuschagne made the hosts toil hard for a wicket.
Australia reached the 100-run mark in 29.5 overs.
Ravindra Jadeja continued his great form with the ball, dislodging Labuschagne's middle stump to send him back for 31 off 91 balls. Australia was 108/2. The 96-run stand between Khawaja and Labuschagne was ended.
Khawaja reached his half-century in 103 balls.
Skipper Steve Smith was next up on the crease. Australia secured a lead in the match.
Jadeja got his third wicket of the match, dismissing a well-set Khawaja for 60 runs, with assistance from Shubman Gill at deep midwicket. Australia was 125/3 at that point.
Captain Smith's rough form in the series continued as Jadeja dismissed him for 26 runs after he was caught by wicketkeeper-batter Srikar Bharat. Australia was 146/4 at this point.
Peter Handscomb and Cameron Green took Australia through the remainder of the day without any further damage. Australia ended the day's play at 156/4, having a lead of 47 runs over the hosts.
Jadeja was once again the star of the day for India, taking all four wickets for 63 runs in his 24 overs.
Earlier, Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja put Australia in the driver's seat after they took the visitors to 71/1 at Tea in the third Test against India in the four-match series at Holkar Stadium in Indore on Wednesday.
The hosts resumed the innings at 84/7 with Axar Patel 6(13) and Ravichandran Ashwin 1(5) at the crease but could only add 25 runs to the total as the team was skittled out for 109.
Left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann took his maiden five-wicket haul, while Nathan Lyon scalped three wickets.
Ashwin could only add two runs to his total when Kuhnemann found the batter's outside edge which was gleefully accepted by Alex Carey behind the wicket. The right-hander's stay ended in the third over after lunch for 3(12).
Umesh Yadav played a quick cameo and landed lusty blows but eventually fell to Kuhnemann for 17, handing him his maiden fifer in Tests.
India's last wicket was courtesy of a mix-up between Mohammed Siraj and Axar, drawing an end to India's innings at 109 runs.
Usman Khawaja and Travis Head walked out to open for Australia in the first innings and Ravichandran Ashwin opened the bowling for India.
India introduced spin from both ends with Jadeja coming in to bowl the second over. The move paid for India as he dismissed Head in his first over for 9(6).
Marnus Labuschagne was dismissed for a duck but the umpire called the delivery a no-ball after the replays showed the bowler to have overstepped.
The spin-duo of Ashwin and Jadeja looked threatening but Khawaja and Labuschagne made sure the visitors didn't lose any more wickets, heading into Tea on the first day. Khawaja (33*) and Labuschagne (16*) remained unbeaten at the end of the second session.
Australia spinners dominated and the hosts were left tottering at the end of the first session. At lunch, Australia was in a commanding position with India at 84/7, with Axar Patel 6(13) and Ravichandran Ashwin 1(5) at the crease.
India was off to a quick start with the openers finding boundaries regularly, racing to 26/0 at the end of five overs. The Aussie pacers sprayed the new ball all over the place to help the batters get easy boundaries.
However, the game changed after skipper Steve Smith introduced spin into the attack. Matthew Kuhnemann drew first blood for the visitors, dismissing in-form Rohit Sharma in his first over.The Indian skipper wanted to dominate the spinner and stepped out to heave the ball only to miss it. Alex Carey pouched the ball to whip the bails off in a flash. Rohit scored 12(23) before being stumped.
India lost Gill in the left-arm spinner's next over, reducing the hosts to 34/2. The spinner was on song, bowling beautifully on a pitch that offered turn and bounce. The right-hander looked in good touch but a delivery found the outside edge of his bat while he was prodding forward in defence.
The hosts were banking on Cheteshwar Pujara to steady the innings, but he was dismissed by Nathan Lyon after the ball turned square to disturb the stumps. Pujara had to walk back for 1(4).
India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was promoted to bat up the order. However, he could not make the most of the opportunity. He was adjudged leg-before wicket but reviewed the decision to survive a close call against Lyon but played a loose shot to gift his wicket on the very next ball.
Shreyas Iyer dragged the ball onto his stumps in the next over to be dismissed for a duck off Kuhnemann, leaving India struggling at 45/5.
The hosts were looking down the barrel but the fifth wicket stand between Virat Kohli and Srikar Bharat revived India's hopes of getting to a respectable total. However, the partnership was cut short by Todd Murphy who found Virat plumb in front of the stumps, dismissing him for 22(52).
Bharat, who looked in good nick lost his wicket just before lunch to Lyon, leaving India tottering at 82/7.
Axar Patel 6(13) and Ravichandran Ashwin 1(5) were at the crease for the hosts at lunch, with India's score at 84/7.
Brief Scores: India: 109 in 33.2 overs (Virat Kohli 22, Shubman Gill 21, Matthew Kuhnemann 5/16) trail Australia: 156/4 in 54 overs (Usman Khawaja 60, Marnus Labuschagne 31, Ravindra Jadeja 4/63). (ANI)