Australian woes continue as Ravichandran Ashwin puts India in charge

 

Ravichandran Ashwin claimed four wickets as India stamped their mark on the opening day of the fourth Test against Australia in Delhi.

The spotlight before the match had been on Shane Watson, who was back in the line-up having been one of four players suspended for the third Test for disciplinary reasons, and was also named captain when Michael Clarke was ruled out with a back problem.

But the 31-year-old failed to inspire his side, who suffered a mid-session slump before Steve Smith and Peter Siddle provided some resistance to help the tourists reach 231 for eight at stumps.

Ashwin led India's afternoon charge with Ishant Sharma (two) and Ravindra Jadeja (two) among the wickets as the home side look to complete a series whitewash.

Watson won his first toss at the Test helm and opted to bat, but soon saw David Warner heading back to the pavilion for a duck.

Warner departed in only the second over, a lack of foot movement to Sharma's fourth ball resulting in a thick edge to second slip, where Virat Kohli snaffled a neat catch.

Replacement Phil Hughes, batting at number three, quickly found his rhythm, hitting Bhuvneshwar Kumar for three fours in the seventh over and two more when the paceman was replaced by off-spinner Ashwin.

His progress was ended on 45, though, when he was caught in two minds by a short-of-a-length ball on Sharma's return, and chopped an inside edge on to his stumps.

That brought the skipper to the crease, Watson easing any nerves over his new role by despatching the fourth ball he faced to the boundary with a leg-side half-volley.

Watson and opener Ed Cowan saw Australia through to 94 for two at lunch, but things quickly went downhill for the tourists in the afternoon session.

Cowan was on 38 when Ashwin claimed his first wicket, bowling the opener round his legs, but it was Watson's wicket for 17 that was particularly celebrated by India.

Jadeja's delivery drew Watson away from his stumps and Mahendra Singh Dhoni was quick to whip the bails off to leave their opponents on 115 for four.

Matthew Wade quickly followed for two, pushing Ashwin to Murali Vijay at silly point, before Glenn Maxwell threw away his wicket by prodding a ball from Jadeja straight into the hands of Sharma.

Mitchell Johnson, another of the suspended quartet to miss the third Test, added just three runs to the board before he also succumbed to a delivery from Ashwin.

Steve Smith was a spectator to events at the other end of the crease, having come in at number five, but his 53-run partnership with Siddle helped Australia regain some composure.

The pair saw Australia through to tea and Smith continued to push on towards a half century in the final session but fell four runs short of the target, edging to debutant Ajinkya Rahane with Ashwin claiming his fourth scalp.

However, Siddle was proving just as stubborn and built another stand with James Pattinson for the ninth wicket.

Siddle was unbeaten on 47 at the close with Pattinson 11 not out, as the pair added 42 runs to the score.

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