UPDATE 1-Cricket-Ashwin hits twice as India dominates early in Melbourne


(Updates at lunch)

MELBOURNE, Dec.26 (Reuters) – Ravichandran Ashwin grabbed two wickets and fired Steve Smith for his first duck in four years as India dominated the opening session of the second test against Australia in Melbourne on Saturday.

Australia, who won the series opener in Adelaide, were 65-for-three at lunch, having won the draw and choosing to strike on a glorious morning at Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Marnus Labuschagne was not yet 26, having survived two revised decisions for lbw, with Travis Head in four.

Spinner Ashwin, alternate skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s first bowling change, had an immediate impact, removing Matthew Wade for 30 points on his second and sliding Smith leg to leg on his eighth face ball.

It was Smith’s first duck in a test since being fired lbw by left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj in defeat to South Africa in Perth in 2016.

Trailing 1-0 in the series after being sacked for 36 in a calamitous loss to Adelaide, India started life without skipper Virat Kohli, who returned home for the birth of his first child, on a positive note.

Pace’s spearhead Jasprit Bumrah got the tourists off to a good start, with lead Joe Burns being caught by an uncomfortable 10-ball duck on his second.

It was an exquisite delivery that made for Burns, tearing off the seam and tickling an edge on the way to the porter recalled Rishabh Pant.

Makeshift opener Wade survived an early gash on Umesh Yadav’s slides and kept the Indian bowlers at bay for the first hour.

However, he ended up throwing his wicket with a reckless attack on Ashwin, sending a top edge skyward. Recalled that versatile Rahindra Jadeja crashed into debutant Shubman Gill as he took the capture but held it superbly.

In the wake of Smith’s dismissal, India lost a review in trying to remove Labuschagne lbw after Bumrah hit his pads.

The batsman overturned another LBW decision in the last review before lunch, with Ashwin finding his pads.

Australia remained unchanged from Adelaide, but India made four changes, including two debutants to Gill and Mohammed Siraj.

Gill replaced opening batsman Prithvi Shaw with paceman Siraj replacing injured Mohammed Shami. The pants also came for wicket keeper Wriddhiman Saha, with Jadeja being recalled as another slow bowling option.


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