Khawaja, Handscomb lead Australia fight in 2nd India Test

NEW DELHI: Gritty half-centuries from Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb guided Australia to a fighting 263 all out against inspired Indian bowlers on Friday’s opening day of the second Test. India reached 21 for no loss at stumps with the hosts still trailing Australia by 242 runs here. Skipper Rohit Sharma, on 13, and KL Rahul, on four, were batting. Australia worked with spin right from the second over with debutant Matthew Kuhnemann and Nathan Lyon bowling six overs between them.
Handscomb (72 not out) and Khawaja (81) played key knocks to boost Australia’s total after the tourists, who lost the opener of the four-match series inside three days, again elected to bat on another turning track. Fast bowler Mohammed Shami took four wickets while spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja had three each.
“It is always challenging when you have quality bowlers like Ashwin and Jadeja, it is always tough work,” Khawaja told broadcaster Star Sports after the day’s play.
Australia’s 263 was “very competitive, it’s not easy out there,” he added. “There are few cracks. I think tomorrow will tell the tale which way this game is going.”
Shami wrapped up the Australian innings in the final session as he bowled Kuhnemann for six.
Khawaja’s knock came to an end before tea, with a stunning one-handed catch from KL Rahul giving left-arm spinner Jadeja his 250th Test wicket. Rahul dived full stretch to his right to grab the ball on a reverse sweep from Khawaja, who fell to his knees in absolute disbelief.
Handscomb and Khawaja had put on 59 crucial runs in the second session before the latter’s departure.
But Handscomb kept up the grind and reached his fifth Test half-century in an eighth-wicket stand with skipper Pat Cummins, who made 33 before being trapped lbw by Jadeja. Earlier Ashwin dismissed wicketkeeper Alex Carey for a duck for his third wicket of the day as India once again called the shots after a mini Australia fightback.
The off-spinner struck twice in one over before lunch including Marnus Labuschagne, for 18, and Steve Smith, for a duck, to put the tourists in trouble.
David Warner, who scored one and 10 in Nagpur in the first Test, was the first to go after taking 21 balls to score the first runs of his innings. He had faced a barrage of short balls by seamer Mohammed Siraj and took a couple of blows, on the elbow and the back of the helmet.
Just when it looked like the left-handed opener had settled in, Shami produced a peach of a delivery that pitched and held its line from around the wicket, with the keeper taking the edge behind.