Michael Clarke top-scored with 91 before declaring with Australia at 237 for 9, giving India three overs to bat before stumps. (BCCI)
Hyderabad: A to-and-fro opening day at Uppal ended with India 5 for 0 in reply to Australia's 237 for 9 declared, out of which 91 came next to the almost unflappable Michael Clarke's name. The three sessions were divided and offered viewers another gripping Bhuveshwar Kumar nipped out three wickets in the morning, Clarke and Matthew Wade batted out the afternoon without loss before Australia lost their five wickets for 29 runs. Soon after he was bowled for 91, Clarke surprisingly declared at 237 for 9 to give India three overs to face in the day.
Having opted to bat, Australia lost their openers inside five overs after Bhuvneshwar produced a good display of swing bowling. David Warner inside-edged a delivery jagging back in to become Bhuvneshwar's first Test wicket, and in the next over Ed Cowan was struck in line with middle stump when beaten by an incutter. Bhuvneshwar's eighth unbroken over began with Shane Watson clipping to the midwicket boundary to raise Australia's 50, and when Bhuvneshwar dropped short the batsman tapped him past point for four more. But the last delivery of the over gave Bhuvneshwar his third wicket, as Watson was beaten for movement and the lack of bounce to be struck on the back leg in front of off stump. Bhuvneshwar's figures of 9-1-36-3 had left Australia in big trouble.
Ishant Sharma turned in a wicketless opening spell (5-1-21-0) of which 20 runs came in boundaries, which forced MS Dhoni to turn to R Ashwin. The offspinner struck in his sixth over, getting an out-of-sorts Phillip Hughes to edge a cut to Dhoni for 19. Clarke, not surprisingly, was the most commanding of Australia's batsmen and hit two fours and six as he again laid the platform for another fine innings.
Clarke had two nervous moments after lunch when an edge off Bhuvneshwar dropped short of Dhoni and an appeal for lbw from Ishant was turned down, but otherwise was solid. He drove Harbhajan Singh past cover for three and clipped Bhuvneshwar for four with trademark sparkling footwork, before taking Ishant for two boundaries in an over. As in his first spell in the morning, Ishant produced a couple good deliveries after lunch (5-0-17-0) but did not apply enough pressure.
Wade was more assured against spin than he had been in Chennai, as exemplified by shots straight and square of the wicket. Harbhajan and Ravindra Jadeja were thumped down the ground with power and swept offline, while Ashwin was cut and pulled off the back foot with precision. Wade played with a full face of the bat more often than not and this earned him a longer stay at the crease than in the first Test. On 52, Clarke inside-edged a catch off Ashwin that Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg failed to take.
Having searched for a wicket all afternoon, India found the breakthrough in a dramatic 69th over, sandwiched between two let-offs by Dhoni. Having just been reprieved when Dhoni muffed a stumping, Wade cut Harbhajan in the air towards the off side, from where Bhuvneshwar threw himself to his left and held an athletic catch. On the final ball of the over, Dhoni put down an edge off Moises Henriques glove as Harbhajan produced a spitting delivery.
Having survived a couple shouts, Henriques was bowled by a peach from Jadeja that ripped past the bat to hit the stumps. Jadeja then added the debutant Glenn Maxwell (13), who edged a cut to Dhoni, after which Harbhajan claimed Peter Siddle for 0. On 91, Clarke missed a sweep at Jadeja and was bowled. Eleven deliveries later, he declared.