ADELAIDE • Travis Head scored an unbeaten half-century on his home debut to give Australia hope of reeling in India's first-innings lead, despite a string of batting failures on day two of the first cricket Test.
Australia were 191 for seven yesterday, with Head 61 not out and tailender Mitchell Starc on eight, still 59 runs short of India's modest total of 250 at the close of another baking hot day at the Adelaide Oval.
While the 24-year-old's second fifty in his third Test was a boost to home fans, it merely glossed over the fault lines snaking through the batting in Tim Paine's team.
Having wrapped up India's innings with the first ball of the day, the top order was almost as quick to blow Australia's advantage.
Aaron Finch was bowled for a duck third ball by paceman Ishant Sharma and No. 4 Shaun Marsh's poor run of form continued when he dragged spinner Ravichandran Ashwin onto his stumps for two after a 19-ball innings.
All of Australia's top four returned to the pavilion without passing 30. It again reinforced how much Australia are missing Steve Smith and David Warner, who remain banned for their part in the South Africa ball-tampering affair.
But debutant opener Marcus Harris, one of three Ashwin victims, was quick to blame a "tough" drop-in wicket and tried to put a positive spin on their batsmen's travails.
"It's not as easy as the old Adelaide Oval wicket," said the 26-year-old, who was caught in close for 26 after nicking onto his pads. "We're definitely still 100 per cent in the game."
Head also felt that despite India "bowling exceptionally well", day three was all to play for, saying: "It was nice to do a job for the team and it will be an exciting day (today).
"We hung in there. It was (a) fantastic little fightback in the end and it will be an important first hour tomorrow. Every run will valuable."
Having lost nine wickets on day one, many of them cheaply, India were rightfully proud of their bowlers' work on day two.
"I see it as neck and neck as far as the game goes right now," said Ashwin, who conceded only 50 runs in a heavy 33-over load. "Whoever leads gets the momentum and obviously has an edge in this Test. I feel it's extremely poised and every run is going to be gold dust here."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
AUSTRALIA V INDIA
Day 3: Singtel TV Ch123 & StarHub Ch236, 8am