More like a bid to fill the void after Virat Kohli did not take the field, the left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav rolled over his golden arm to bring India back into the game while asking serious questions of the visitors’ batsmen, who were shuffling across the stumps and rocking back deep into the crease in a bid to tackle the rookie slow bowler, who had been compared with the legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne.
At the stumps, India was 0 for 0 in one over as KL Rahul faced all six deliveries of the right-arm fast bowler Josh Hazlewood in the fourth and final Test at the picturesque Dharamsala.
Nathan Lyon, who looked more in a hurry, was the last man to go as Australia was bundled out for 300 in 88.3 overs at the stroke of stumps on Day 1 in their first innings. Lyon was caught by Cheteshwar Pujara off the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Josh Hazlewood remained not out on 2 off 2 balls.
Holding on to his line and length, Yadav bagged four wickets on his Test debut in 23 overs after conceding 68 runs. He was deceptive with the ball as the visitors found him unplayable on most of the occasions during his spell which further saw him in tears when he bagged his maiden Test wicket of David Warner (56 off 87), who also registered his highest total of the ongoing series so far.
Umesh Yadav picked two wickets as Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja claimed a wicket each
The wicket-keeper batsman Matthew Wade brought up his valiant fifty after wickets fell at the regular intervals on the other side. He looked more solid than his other teammates during the innings.
Wade was eventually bowled by left-arm orthodox spinner Ravindra Jadeja on 57 off 127 balls which included four boundaries and a solitary six.
India came back strongly after the post lunch session as they claimed five wickets in 30 overs before giving away 77 runs in the session which completely saw Australia on the backfoot when the left-arm chinaman had a roll with the ball.
At tea, following the remarkable recovery India reduced Australia to 208 for six.
Steve O’Keefe was declared run out when substitute Shreyas Iyer hit the bulls eye when O’Keefe scampered for a single. O’Keefe scored 8 off 16 balls.
However, Pat Cummins played the cameo of 21 off 40 balls before being caught and bowled by Kuldeep.
After striking clean on the googly of Yadav, all-rounder Glenn Maxwell had no answer to a wrong-one from Yadav as he was bowled on 8 off 17 balls.
Shaun Marsh, who had played the significant role for Australia to draw the third Test in Ranchi, failed to deliver in Dharamsala as he was dismissed by Umesh Yadav on 4 off 14 balls.
Peter Handscomb was undone by a beauty from Yadav after doing to play the wrong line when he was batting on 8 off 23 balls.
Smith was caught by stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane at the first slip when he was batting on 111 off 173 balls.
With the wicket of Smith, Ashwin surpassed the record of most wickets in a season by claiming 79 wickets so far as the previous milestone was held by South African Dale Steyn (78).
Skipper Steven Smith brought up his seventh century against India which included 14 boundaries and his overall 20th in Tests.
Smith knitted 134-run partnership for the second wicket alongside David Warner.
Earlier, after winning the toss, Australian skipper Steven Smith decided to bat first against India in the gripping Test series decider.
On the opening day at lunch, Australia looked more settled with the bat as they posted 131 for one on board.
Australia scored briskly over four runs in an over, in the first session of the match on a pitch with a slight tinge of green which further had a quick outfield.
In the morning session, after Umesh Yadav drew the first blood in the second over of the match with a peach of a delivery to opener Matt Renshaw, who had no clue for the ball to see Australia 10 for 1.
Earlier, David Warner was dropped on the very fast ball of the Test match by Karun Nair in the third slip on the bowling of fast-bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar when the ball popped out of his left hand.
Seen as a a huge blow for India, Virat Kohli decided to warm the bench after nursing the shoulder injury which he had picked up during the Ranchi Test on the Day One when he was trying to save the boundary before falling awkwardly on his right shoulder to see himself wincing in pain.
Brief Scores: Australia 1st innings: 300 all out in 88.3 overs. (Steve Smith 111, David Warner 56
Bowling: Kuldeep Yadav 4 for 68, Umesh Yadav 2 for 69
India 0 for no loss in 1 over.
KL Rahul 0* 6 balls
Murali Vijay 0*