India's decision to bat first was nullified by a raging turner at Indore which saw rookie left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann pick up 5-16 that sent India reeling to a paltry 109, before Australia replied confidently with the bat.
In a frenetic first hour of the day that saw India lose half their side to the spinners, the first breakthrough could have easily come through their returning pacer Mitchell Starc. Twice in the first over Australia opted against going for a review with Rohit Sharma being adjudged out on replays each time. The first ball of the innings saw them not go up for a caught behind appeal, and then for an LBW appeal when Starc shaped one back into Rohit. On field umpire Nitin Menon got both wrong and India's openers managed to get off to a quick start against the pacers.
The introduction of spin in the 6th over, however, turned the game on its head. Matthew Kuhnemann beat Rohit Sharma's attempted loft and had him stumped in his first over, and topped it up by having Shubman Gill caught at slip in his next over. Complementing him well was Nathan Lyon who had one shoot through low to bowl Cheteshwar Pujara on the backfoot.
India's gamble of promoting a left-hander in Ravindra Jadeja did not pay dividends either. Jadeja managed to overturn a LBW decision against Lyon after getting an inside edge but off the very next ball he fell, slapping a short ball straight to short extra cover. The next man in, Shreyas Iyer was the third man out trying to play a forceful shot off the backfoot, as he got an inside edge against Kuhnemann. At 45/5, India's innings had gone south rather rapidly.
The rot was stemmed for a brief period by the combo of Virat Kohli and KS Bharat, both of whom came out with a confident plan to tackle the spin. Bharat used the slogsweep effectively while Kohli was more adept in going on the backfoot to work the ball around. Together, the duo stitched a 26-run stand with great purpose before Australia hit back again.
In reply, Australia were steadied by a good stand from Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne who added 59 by the Tea break, milking the spinners calmly against the in-out fields set by a defensive India. The latter had a couple of reprieves as he was once bowled off a no ball from Jadeja, and next when India opted against an LBW review off Ashwin which would have been out if taken. India's conservativeness with the reviews resulted from burning two against Khawaja off Jadeja which turned out to be comfortably missing the stumps. With little going their way, India ended the session firmly under the pump.
Todd Murphy got Kohli for the third time in the series, having him LBW trying to play across to one turning in and keeping low. After his fighting 52-ball 22 came to an end, Bharat too followed suit falling LBW in similar fashion to Lyon as India limped away into the Lunch break losing seven on a diabolical pitch. It continued after the break with Kuhnemann getting Ashwin caught behind first and then trapped Umesh Yadav LBW to pick up his maiden five-fer in First Class cricket. Umesh's slogs though had helped India get past 100, but it came to halt on on 109 when Mohammad Siraj was run out going for a second to stay off strike.
Brief Scores: India 109 all out (Virat Kohli 22; Matthew Kuhnemann 5-16, Nathan Lyon 3-35)lead Australia 71/1 (Usman Khawaja 33*) by 38 runs