1st test: Smith defies India, Aussies lead by 298 on day 2

ESPNcricinfo has learnt from sources that over the four days leading upto the Test, the pitch got only about half the water it gets before a usual first-class match. Yet India had stayed unbeaten in a long home season by the time Australia came calling.

After the Pune Test, the question will be asked why Team India coach Anil Kumble (India's most successful Test spinner ever) could not have got the bowling trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant Yadav to bowl a fuller length, like O'Keefe did on Sriram's advice. Australian lead mounting now, they have crossed 300. With conditions favouring India, the Aussies can only hope for draws. At the same time, the Australian fast bowlers would have put in extra efforts and this would have exhausted them mentally and physically.

India trailed the visitors by 155 runs.

O'Keefe, who feared his worldwide career was over after returning from Sri Lanka previous year with a hamstring injury, grabbed a career-best haul of 6-35 to give Australia a golden chance of completing their first Test win in India since 2004. Both have guided their teams to the top position, but Smith & company faced 0-3 whitewash in Sri Lanka which showed their weakness against quality spin.

The 27-year-old right-handed batsman, who was unbeaten on 59 overnight, was dropped three times on Friday and was handed another lifeline on 67 but maintained his concentration on a tricky surface to bring up his 18th test hundred.

Kohli has been in outstanding form. Two days before the Test, Daljit Singh, the chairman of the Pitches Committee, landed up.

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Kohli's India are still favourites to take the ongoing series.

Coming in to bat in the post-lunch session after dismissing Australia for 285, the hosts ran into trouble early in their second essay with Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul and Kohli returning to the pavilion even before the Indian total had reached the 50-run mark.

The left-arm spinner then trapped both Ravichandran Ashwin (8) and Wriddhiman Saha (5) lbw, to become the third Australian spinner, and first since Jason Krejza took 12-359 at Nagpur in 2008, to pick up 10-plus wickets in a test on Indian soil.

The left-armer, playing in only his fifth Test, ran through the India order after taking the new ball, putting Australia in complete control as the hosts were skittled for just 105.

According to some reports, the Pune pitch, in the leadup to the Test match, was hardly watered, and that clearly is not going to be the case in Bengaluru. But times have changed since the retirement of Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist. But Smith has an excellent record against India. In 2012/13, India decimated the Aussies 4-0 in a series that witnessed Dhoni score his a blistering double-century.

Before the ongoing Test, 90 Test matches had been played between the two countries. The skipper's century ensured that they set a massive target for India to chase in the fourth innings. One match was tied. On the one hand, Australian spinners didn't give an inch - a simple conclusion made from India's struggling scoring rate in both innings.


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