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Spinners shine as India crush Australia by an innings

Nagpur (India) (AFP) – Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja eviscerated Australia in just over two hours to hand India a crushing innings-and-132-run victory Saturday inside three days of the opening Test.

The hosts took a commanding first-innings lead of 223 in Nagpur, then skittled out Australia for 91 in an extended second session to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

Steve Smith was left to survey the ruins on 25 after Ashwin, who took five wickets in the innings and eight in the match, triggered a complete batting collapse inside a single session.

“We know playing a series like this it’s important to start well,” captain Rohit Sharma told reporters.

“Glad all our batters could put up a show, get 400 and enough lead then the spinners came into the picture.”

Ashwin rattled the opposition batting with his off-spin as he sent back Usman Khawaja (five), David Warner (10) and Matt Renshaw (two).

Jadeja, who grabbed five in the first innings, took two wickets including Marnus Labuschagne — Australia’s first-innings top-scorer with 49 — trapped lbw for 17.

But Ashwin ruled the afternoon to run through the Australian batting, which fell flat on a pitch where India’s tail — including Axar Patel (84) and Mohammed Shami (37) — scored handsomely in the first session.

“Their spinners are always going to be hard work when the wicket is spinning,” said Aussie skipper Pat Cummins.

“That first innings, the wicket spun but wasn’t unplayable. Would have loved another 100 or so runs and put a bit more pressure on their first innings. Obviously starting here is tough.”

Shami bowled Nathan Lyon for the ninth wicket to extend the session and finished the job when he trapped Scott Boland lbw.

Saving grace

Debutant spinner Todd Murphy was the tourists’ sole saving grace, adding two more wickets on Saturday morning to return figures of 7-124.

Murphy, who on Friday became the youngest Australian spinner to bag five in his first Test, bowled Jadeja for 70 early in the morning session to end an 88-run eighth-wicket partnership with Axar.

Jadeja, a left-hander making his international return from a knee injury, added just four to his overnight 66.

But Axar stood firm in his effort to bat Australia out of the game and found an able ally in number 10 Shami, who made the most of a dropped catch on six.

Shami smashed two fours and three sixes to boost the total before becoming Murphy’s seventh wicket.

Cummins took two wickets and bowled Axar at the stroke of lunch to wrap up the Indian innings. Senior spinner Nathan Lyon took one wicket.

Rohit’s powerful knock of 120 had put the hosts in the driver’s seat after they bundled out Australia for 177 on day one of the opener.

The skipper put on a key stand of 61 with Jadeja, and put India in the lead after they were in a spot at 168-5.

Jadeja set the tone for the thrashing with his figures of 5-47 that helped dismiss the visitors, who elected to bat first, soon after tea on the opening day.

The second Test begins Friday in New Delhi.

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