Cool Travis Head keeps Australia in touch of India in first Test

Head proved to be stubborn obstacle for the India bowlers on day two of the first Test. (AP)
Updated 07 December 2018
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Cool Travis Head keeps Australia in touch of India in first Test

  • First Test finely poised after day two in Adelaide.
  • Head scores a stubborn half-century to keep Baggy Greens in touch of India's first-innings total of 250.

ADELAIDE: Travis Head hit a stubborn half-century to keep Australia in the hunt on Friday after their top order slumped under sustained pressure from India’s bowlers, leaving the first Test in Adelaide finely poised.
Batting on his home ground, Head kept his cool in the humid conditions to be 61 not out at stumps on day two, with Mitchell Starc unbeaten on eight.
His efforts helped steer Australia to 191 for seven in reply to India’s 250.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin bowled beautifully to take three wickets, while Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah grabbed two each.
It was Head’s second 50 in his third Test, with the Adelaide-born 24-year-old playing the sort of gutsy innings that his more experienced teammates couldn’t match.
All of Australia’s top four were back in the pavilion without passing 30, with Aaron Finch (nought) and Shaun Marsh (two) notable failures.
It once again reinforced how much Australia are missing Steve Smith and David Warner, who remain banned over their part in the South Africa ball-tampering affair.
“It was nice to do a job for the team and it will be an exciting day tomorrow,” said Head.
“We hung in there. India bowled exceptionally well. It was (a) fantastic little fightback in the end and it will be an important first hour tomorrow. Every run will valuable.”
Debutant Marcus Harris, who made 26, added: “It was a tough day, it wasn’t easy to score. I think we’re in a decent position.”
Ashwin agreed that the Test match for there for the taking.
“I see it as neck and neck as far as the game goes right now,” he said.
India resumed on 250 for nine, but they were unable to add to the total with tailender Mohammed Shami out for six on the first ball of the day, caught behind by Tim Paine off Josh Hazlewood, leaving Bumrah unbeaten on nought.
Hazlewood finished with three for 52. Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon all took two wickets each.

HORROR START

In reply, Australia got off to a horror start with Finch’s credentials as an opener again called into question after he was spectacularly bowled without scoring on only the third ball he faced.
A lovely delivery from Sharma took out his middle and off stumps after getting an inside edge as Finch attempted a drive.
Harris looked in good nick and unruffled by the occasion, hitting three fours in his solid 26.
But he was undone by a drifting ball from Ashwin, getting an edge to Murali Vijay at silly mid-off and ending a 45-run partnership with a slimmed-down Usman Khawaja who was back after knee surgery.
Ashwin’s off spin was causing problems and Marsh needlessly slashed at a wide delivery in the first over after lunch, dragging it onto his wicket.
The woeful shot extended his dire recent Test form and left Australia in trouble at 59-3. Marsh has now slumped to six consecutive single-figure scores, failing to step up in the absence of Smith and Warner.
Khawaja, whose Test preparations were disrupted after the shock arrest of his brother this week for allegedly framing a love-rival with a fake terror plot, was Ashwin’s next victim.
Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant took an excellent catch after a turning ball flicked off Khawaja’s glove. He was out for 28 on a review decision.
A gritty knock from Peter Handscomb, brought into the side for all-rounder Mitch Marsh, ended on 34 soon after tea with Bumrah breaking what was shaping as a handy partnership with Head.
It brought Paine to the crease, but he was unable to stop the rot and added only five runs before becoming Sharma’s second scalp.
Cummins joined Head and they began to find gaps in the field as India tired, putting on a 50-run stand before Cummins lbw to Bumrah for 10 late in the day.


Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne close to Manchester City return, says Pep Guardiola

Updated 14 December 2018
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Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne close to Manchester City return, says Pep Guardiola

MANCHESTER: Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne are both on the verge of a return to action for Manchester City as a busy December program gathers pace, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.
Aguero, City’s leading scorer, has missed their past four matches with a groin problem but has been able to train without discomfort and could face Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Belgium midfielder De Bruyne suffered ligament damage to his right knee in August and although he returned in October, he then injured his left knee during the League Cup win over Fulham on November 1.
He too has resumed full training and Guardiola will assess both players in the hope that his lengthy casualty list might be about to ease.
The manager, though, is optimistic on 30-year-old Aguero, who has 12 goals in all competitions this season.
“He did the last two training sessions, including on Thursday and he has no pain in his injury so we’ll decide,” he said.
“Kevin is in the same situation as Sergio. Yesterday he trained with no pain, we will see.”
The win over Hoffenheim enabled City to get back on track after the disappointment of seeing their 15-match unbeaten start to the Premier League season end in a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea last Saturday.
“Last season, when we dropped points, we were able to respond with another big run,” he said.