There was pace, bounce and movement for the seamers and some purchase for the spinners on a second day of interesting twists.
Replying to India’s first innings 408, Australia was 221 for four with skipper Steven Smith on an unbeaten 65 of composure and sure-footedness at the ’Gabba on Thursday.
But then, it rained heavily after the day’s play and weather could impact the course of the match.
For the host, debutant paceman Josh Hazlewood, his wrist strong and action rhythmic, moved the ball from an ideal off-stump line to scalp five in the first session. Australia was under pressure when the side began its reply. David Warner responded to the situation in the manner he knows best — with a barrage of shots.
A short-pitched delivery from Yadav, however, evoked a miscued pull from the southpaw. India had drawn first blood.
Varun Aaron generated pace and lift. Ishant, though, struggled to get his line right and was put away for runs.
Chris Rogers, searching for form, off-drove and straight-drove Varun, and then cut Ashwin. With his short back-lift, the left-hander played close to his body and found the gaps.
Rogers and Watson offered some resistance. Watson, flicking and driving with panache, appeared set for a sizable score when he fell to a wonderful diving catch by Shikhar Dhawan at mid-on off Ashwin.
The trap had been set by Ashwin, who had a mid-on in place and held the sphere back. Jumping down the track, Watson could not control his stroke.
India struck again soon. Running in well and mixing his short pitched deliveries with the fuller length balls, Yadav angled one across the left-handed Rogers (55) from round the wicket. The opener only managed to glove an awkward short delivery to the ‘keeper.
The left-handed Shaun Marsh — he timed the ball sweetly on both sides to forge a partnership with Smith — sliced Yadav uppishly only to see Ashwin leap high and hold a fine catch at first slip.
Shaun had earlier been put down by Ajinkya Rahane; the normally reliable fielder floored a skier after the southpaw top-edged a pull off Aaron.
Smith, the stress of captaincy not weighing him down, was in control of his innings though. He employed his feet and struck Ashwin for sixes over long-on and over the bowler’s head.
The Australian pacers were spot on in the morning. They bowled the right length, probed the batsmen’s footwork.
Hazlewood, recovering from cramps, zeroed in on the right three quarters length.
The debutant fast bowler consumed Rahane (81) with a mean away-seamer that squared the batsman up and found the edge.
Rohit Sharma, tentative, did not last long. Shane Watson drew the right-hander into a drive and moved the ball late for skipper Steven Smith to hold a brilliant diving catch in the slip cordon.
A menacing Mitchell Johnson made M.S. Dhoni smell the leather with a short-pitched delivery but the Indian captain soon guided the paceman to the point boundary.
Dhoni manufactured some powerful strokes; a pull and an off-drive off Starc among them.
Ashwin, assured and strokeful at the crease, bludgeoned Starc over covers and then flicked the left-arm seamer to the fence. Starc can be sharp and has the ability to bring the ball into the right-hander from over the wicket but struggled for rhythm and control here.
Ashwin was severe on anything on middle and leg as Hazlewood found out. But then when the bowler seamed one away from the off-stump, he found the edge of Ashwin’s willow and Watson made no mistake.
Not much later, an off-cutter travelled off Dhoni’s inside edge to Haddin’s gloves. It was the wicket-keeper’s sixth catch of the innings. The 23-year-old Hazlewood has the makings of a good seamer. His load-up is good and he employs the non-bowling arm well. The country boy from Tamworth can generate pace and extract bounce to hustle the batsmen.
Lyon finished off the innings when he had Umesh Yadav caught by Rogers.
Yet, this could be a Test where the two Australian left-arm pacemen could end up creating footmarks for Ashwin.
India— 1st innings: M. Vijay c Haddin b Lyon 144 (213b, 22×4), S. Dhawan c Haddin b Mitchell Marsh 24 (39b), C. Pujara c Haddin b Hazlewood 18 (64b, 1×4), V. Kohli c Haddin b Hazlewood 19 (27b, 1×4), A. Rahane c Haddin b Hazlewood 81 (132b, 8×4), Rohit c Smith b Watson 32 (55b, 3×4, 1×6), M.S. Dhoni c Haddin b Hazlewood 33 (53b, 4×4), R. Ashwin c Watson b Hazlewood 35 (41b, 6×4), U. Yadav c Rogers b Lyon 9 (21b, 2×4), V. Aaron c sub (Labuschagne) b Lyon 4 (11b), Ishant (not out) 1 (3b); Extras (b-4, lb-1, w-2, nb-1) 8; Total (in 109.4 overs): 408.
Fall of wickets: 1-56 (Dhawan), 2-100 (Pujara), 3-137 (Kohli), 4-261 (Vijay), 5-321 (Rahane), 6-328 (Rohit), 7-385 (Ashwin), 8-394 (Dhoni), 9-407 (Aaron).
Australia bowling: Johnson 21-4-81-0, Hazlewood 23.2-6-68-5, Starc 17-1-83-0, Mitchell Marsh 6-1-14-1, Lyon 25.4-2-105-3, Watson 14.4-6-39-1, Warner 1-0-9-0, Smith 1-0-4-0.
Australia —1st innings: C. Rogers c Dhoni b Yadav 55 (79b, 10×4), D. Warner c Ashwin b Yadav 29 (28b, 6×4), S. Watson c Dhawan b Ashwin 25 (29b, 4×4), S. Smith (batting) 65 (88b, 6×4, 2×6), Shaun Marsh c Ashwin b Yadav 32 (70b, 5×4), Mitchell Marsh (batting) 7 (22b, 1×4); Extras (lb-1, w-3, nb-4) 8; Total (for four wkts in 52 overs): 221.
Fall of wickets: 1-47 (Warner), 2-98 (Watson), 3-121 (Rogers), 4-208 (Shaun Marsh).
India bowling: Ishant 9-0-47-0, Aaron 12-1-59-0, Yadav 13-2-48-3, Ashwin 18-3-66-1.