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1st Test, Nagpur, February 09 - 11, 2023, Australia tour of India
177 & 91

India won by an innings and 132 runs

Player Of The Match
5/47, 70 & 2/34

Jadeja, Rohit, Ashwin lead India to resounding innings win

Australia crumbled to their second-lowest total against India in 32.3 overs on the third day

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
R Ashwin got his third for the innings when he trapped Matt Renshaw in front, India vs Australia, 1st Test, Nagpur, 3rd day, February 11, 2023

R Ashwin picked up a five-for in the second innings  •  Getty Images

India 400 (Rohit 120, Axar 84, Murphy 7-124) beat Australia 177 and 91 (Smith 25*, Ashwin 5-37) by an innings and 132 runs
India completed the demolition job of Australia inside three days by bowling them out for 91 in 32.3 overs in the second innings. It was their second-lowest score against India.
R Ashwin, outbowled by Ravindra Jadeja in the first innings and outbatted by both Axar Patel and Jadeja, led the Australian collapse in the second innings with 5 for 37, his 31st five-wicket haul. Fifteen of the 20 wickets that India took were lbw or bowled, which sums up their expertise at attacking the stumps without getting picked off for runs.
It was all the more torturous for Australia because India's last three wickets lasted the whole first session on a pitch that was turning more and quicker than day two. Australia started the day 144 behind, needing the last three wickets for nothing to give them any hope of staying alive in the Test. They got Jadeja early, but Axar added 52 and 20 with Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj to take India's lead to 223.
Axar summed up the challenge for Australia. Coming in at No. 9, he batted much like a proper batter and handled the quick turn on the pitch with little fuss. There was a time when he might even have entertained thoughts of a maiden Test hundred. However, trying to farm the strike with Siraj and looking for a big hit towards the end of an over, Axar lost his off stump on 84. Between them, India's three spinners aggregated exactly 177, Australia's first-innings score.
Debutant Todd Murphy continued to impress as he ended up with figures of 7 for 124, his first five-for in first-class cricket, his longest shift in first-class cricket. That Murphy looked right at home was the last positive for Australia.
New ball, turning pitch, second innings, two left-hand openers, more left-hand batters in the middle order. Even ChatGPT would have thrown the new ball to Ashwin. It took just five balls for the slide to begin. Usman Khawaja thought he had a nice little half-volley to drive at, but it dipped ever so slightly. That was enough for the ball to turn, take the edge and go to slip.
In the ninth over, it became spin at both ends. Marnus Labuschagne tried to counter by staying deep in the crease and making him bowl full. He earned two drives with it, but on pitches with low bounce this strategy is wrought with risk. Soon one turned away, just enough to be pitching leg and hitting off for the plumbest of lbws.
Ashwin sped the slide after that. David Warner, who had been dropped at slip earlier and had done well to not follow the turning balls with his hands, finally fell lbw to one that didn't turn. To be fair to Warner, this was not the parallel-seam delivery from Ashwin, which usually has high probability of going straight on, but it pitched, disturbed the surface a touch and went on to miss his inside edge and have Warner lbw.
Much like Labuschagne, Matt Renshaw was caught back to a fullish ball, beaten by the turn away, and was caught plumb in front. Another classic offbreak from round the wicket turned past the inside edge to have Peter Handscomb lbw too.
Much like the first innings, Alex Carey came out sweeping and reverse-sweeping. He nailed two, got one single, and then Ashwin slowed it down, didn't turn it, and Carey became Ashwin's fifth wicket and his 100th lbw victim in Tests.
Steven Smith looked a level above the other batters as he handled spin. Wickets kept falling around him, but he displayed a sense of calm. At 88 for 9, though, Jadeja went through him for the second time in the Test. This was really unplayable. It was full, on off, and Smith defended the off-stump line. Quite a similar delivery that turned less than expected in the first innings and bowled him. This one, though, actually went further in and bowled hi. Except that it turned out to be a no-ball.
Shami, though, ended up with the lbw of Scott Boland with the ball reversing past his inside edge. Smith remained unbeaten on 25.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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