Nagpur, February 10: Skipper Rohit Sharma scored a magnificent 120, off 212 balls, on Friday, before Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel hit fifties to take India to 321 for 7 at stumps on the second day of the opening Test of the four-match series at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur. It was Rohit’s ninth ton in Test cricket.
India now lead the visitors, who were bundled out for 177 on the opening day, by 144 runs with three wickets in hand in the first innings.
Comeback man Jadeja (66 not out) and Axar (52 not out) added an unbeaten 81 runs for the eighth wicket to frustrate the Aussie bowlers in the final session, after Rohit fell to Pat Cummins in the first over after the tea break.
Debutant Australia off-spinner Todd Murphy had a terrific day with the ball though, taking a five-wicket haul despite India’s valiant batting effort. He finished the day with figures of five for 82 in 36 overs.
The 22-year-old Murphy took regular wickets with his off-spin in his attempt to check India’s surge but Jadeja and Axar kept up the charge following Rohit’s dismissal soon after tea.
Rohit led from the front with his ninth Test century to extend India’s dominance. The captain defied the spinners to reach his hundred with a boundary off Murphy in the second session, and took off his helmet to soak in the applause.
He put on a key 61-run sixth-wicket stand with Jadeja, who stood firm after Rohit’s departure to register a fifty after his five wickets in the Australian innings. Jadeja, who has three Test hundreds, did his trademark sword swish with the bat to mark his 18th half-century in the five-day format.
Murphy stood out for the tourists with remarkable control to knock off the stalwarts of Indian cricket including Virat Kohli, caught behind for 12.
Murphy, who claimed KL Rahul as his first Test wicket on Thursday, trapped Ravichandran Ashwin lbw and got Cheteshwar Pujara caught at short fine leg in the first session.
Senior Australia spinner Nathan Lyon spoiled Twenty20 sensation Suryakumar Yadav’s Test debut after he bowled the batsman on eight to put India in a spot at 168 for 5.
But Rohit, who started the day on his overnight 56 and smashed Pat Cummins and Lyon for a six each, and Jadeja soon swung back the momentum with a mix of caution and aggression.
Cummins took the second new ball after tea to send back Rohit bowled, one ball after he was dropped by Steve Smith at second slip.
Murphy soon bagged his fifth as he trapped fellow debutant Srikar Bharat lbw — a decision that was given not out by the umpire but successfully reviewed by Australia.
Jadeja, who returned from a knee injury with a 5-47 on Thursday, soldiered on with Axar as they frustrated the opposition attack in the final hour of play. Axar smashed eight boundaries en route to his second Test fifty.
Brief Scores: Australia 177 all out (Marnus Labuschagne 49; R Jadeja 5/47) India 321/7 (Rohit Sharma 120, Ravindra Jadeja 66*, Axar Patel 52*; Todd Murphy 5-82) lead by 144 runs.
(ToI With inputs from AFP)