PUNE: Australia’s Matt Renshaw admitted he feared he had let his teammates down by leaving the fray with an upset stomach before returning to hit a gritty half-century in the first Test against India Thursday.
In the opening day of a four-match series between the world’s top two sides, Renshaw’s innings and some late Mitchell Starc fireworks pulled Australia back from the brink as they reached 256 for nine at stumps.
Starc has so far made 57 off 58 balls and Josh Hazlewood was with him at the crease on one at Pune’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
Indian seamer Umesh Yadav claimed four wickets while the spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took two each.
The left-handed Renshaw was the anchor of the innings, top-scoring with 68, although it was Starc who provided the entertainment and caused a rethink in assessments of who had the better of the day.
All had seemed calm with Renshaw for most of the morning session but when David Warner fell with the scores on 82, the English-born batsman caused a stir by following his opening partner back to the pavilion.
As news filtered out that he had an upset stomach, the 20-year-old Renshaw became the talk of social media with even the famously tough former Australian captain Allan Border weighing in.
“Hope he’s lying down half-dead, because as a captain I wouldn’t be happy,” Border wrote on Twitter as Renshaw lay on his sick-bed.
But after Australian skipper Steve Smith fell for 27 just before the tea break, Renshaw then strode back to the crease to register his second Test fifty in his fifth game.
Renshaw said he had been feeling unwell for most of the morning and had tried to tough it out before deciding he had to leg it off the pitch.
“It was tough. I wasn’t too sure on the ruling, I didn’t know you could retire ill so I thought I just had to get out there and make sure I batted till lunch,” he told reporters.
“It wasn’t an ideal situation and coming back it was probably a bit strange for me, waiting to bat because as an opener you just go straight out there and bat.”
– Smith ‘wasn’t thrilled’ –
Renshaw admitted his captain Smith “wasn’t too thrilled” about his retirement just before the break.
“But he understands that when you need to go to the toilet, you need to go to the toilet,” he said.
“It was probably a couple of hours before I came back back but I felt bad knowing that I could be letting the team down — that’s why I went back out there.
“I wanted to do my bit for the team and try and make sure we had a pretty good day.”
Renshaw struck 10 fours and a six during his 156-ball stay which ended when he edged a ball from Ashwin and was caught by Murali Vijay in the slips.
His dismissal was swiftly followed by the departure of Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon who both fell for ducks off consecutive Umesh deliveries.
Warner, who had tackled the Indian spinners with good feet movement, was the first of Umesh’s four victims, falling to a good length delivery that hit the bat en route to stumps just before the lunch break.
“There was some movement, there was a bit of reverse swing as well. I tried to keep the ball on the up,” Umesh said of Warner’s wicket.
“It is a turning wicket and reverse swing is always helpful on such pitches.”
Lyon’s dismissal meant the visitors — who have a dreadful recent record on the sub-continent — had slumped from 119-1 to 205 for nine before Starc put on an unbeaten 51-run stand with Hazlewood.
Starc, better known for his fast-bowling, caught the Indian attack by surprise by carting them around the ground in a blistering innings which featured five boundaries and three sixes. It was the ninth Test fifty.
The match is the first in a four-Test series between the world’s two top-ranked sides.