Henriques helps Australia with debut fifty
Homeboy R Ashwin took 6/88 but Michael Clarke and debutant Moises Henriques put Australia on top with a 151 run partnership for the 6th wicket on Day 1 of the Chennai Test on Friday. Australia finished the day on 316/7 with Clarke unbeaten on 103.
India seemed in for the long haul after Australia’s openers backed their decision to bat first with a brisk opening stand. David Warner received two lives en route his half century courtesy Virender Sehwag who dropped a sitter at first slip and MS Dhoni who fumbled a chance to stump him. Australia had raced to 64 in the 15th over when an attempt to emphasize their dominance saw Ed Cowan being stumped off Ashwin. Phil Hughes followed soon before Warner and Shane Watson added 54 runs for the third wicket, taking them to 126/2 at Lunch.
Ashwin struck right after Lunch, sending back Watson, Warner and Matthew Wade within the first half of the session to reduce Australia to 153/5, his figures reading 5/42 at the point in his first Test at home. But he was the only bowler to threaten the visitors. Ravindra Jadeja bowled tight lines without success, Ashwin was shut out with tight defence while Ishant Sharma just going through the motions. Bhuvneshwar Kumar on debut and Harbhajan Singh in his 100th Test were lacklustre and often let off the pressure at the other end. Henriques started on attack mode and raced ahead of Michael Clarke, reaching 25 to the skipper’s 24 when their 50 run partnership came off 88 balls. But Clarke left Henriques behind in a burst just before Tea. To add to the misery of the Indians, Kumar Dharmasena denied Ashwin the wicket of Clarke who had offered a catch to short leg off an inside edge.
Australia reached Tea at 215/5 with Clarke on 45 and Henriques on 29.
Clarke brought up his 50 right after Tea with a huge six over long on off Ashwin. Henriques accelerated now and with Ashwin flagging post break the Australians plundered runs in the third session. After 9 overs in the 40s, Henriques pushed a ball to mid on and ran for his life, beating a direct hit from Ashwin to bring up fifty on debut, off 101b.
Dhoni at least had the over rate on his side and Jadeja and Ashwin brought him relief with a couple of quick, inexpensive overs. Soon after the partnership reached 151, the third 6th wicket partnership in excess of 100 runs that India have conceded in their last 5 Tests, Henriques went for a wild slog-sweep, missed completely and was out LBW to Ashwin. He had walked in with Australia on 153/5 and had admirably batted them to a safer 304/6 by the time he was dismissed for 68 (132b, 5x4) in his debut innings.
Ashwin had six out of six but Jadeja ended the run there, bowling Starc off an arm ball. Clarke though showed faith in Peter Siddle and kept giving him strike early in the following overs. For his part Siddle kept vigil well enough to let his captain end the day with a ton. Nine years after his ton on debut in the opening Test of a Border-Gavaskar Trophy put Australia on their way to their first series win in India in 35 years, he brought up another significant hundred in another opening Test with a shimmy down the track to launch Jadeja over mid off for a four.
From 42/5 right after Lunch, Ashwin finished the day on 6/88. Clarke finished with 103* (169b, 11x4, 1x6) and from a dismal 153/5, Australia ended the day slightly ahead of India on 316/7.
Image Courtesy: cricket.com.au