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Australia wobble after brisk start in Ranchi

Cricket - India v Australia - Third Test cricket match - Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium, Ranchi, India - 16/03/17 - India’s Ravichandran Ashwin (R) collides with Australia's Matt Renshaw. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Cricket - India v Australia - Third Test cricket match - Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium, Ranchi, India - 16/03/17 - India’s Ravichandran Ashwin (R) collides with Australia's Matt Renshaw. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

By Amlan Chakraborty

RANCHI (Reuters) - Australia squandered a brisk start and slumped to 109 for three at lunch on the opening day of the third test against India as the teams got their focus back on cricket after controversy overshadowed their previous match at Bengaluru.

Touring captain Steve Smith was batting on 34 at the break with Peter Handscomb, another protagonist of the review controversy in the second test, on six at the other end.

Handscomb had advised Smith to gesture towards the dressing room in Bengaluru for advice on whether to review a leg before wicket decision, a move that drew explosive response from India captain Virat Kohli.

The teams have promised to put the acrimony behind them and focus on the four-match series which remains level on 1-1 after India's 75-run victory in the Bengaluru slugfest.

Steve Smith won an important toss and had little hesitation in batting first, something of a ritual on India's low-bounce tracks, and Matt Renshaw led their brisk scoring with his boundary binge.

On an extremely fast outfield at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) Stadium, hosting its first test match, the left-hander's first 24 runs came all via boundaries as the tourists cruised to the 50-run mark in the 10th over.

Rather unsurprisingly, home captain Virat Kohli introduced spin spearhead Ravichandran Ashwin in the seventh over after the first six yielded only a half-hearted leg-before appeal by Ishant Sharma against Renshaw.

It was, however, Ashwin's spin partner Ravindra Jadeja who got the breakthrough in his first over when David Warner slapped a juicy full toss back to the bowler to depart for 19.

Renshaw looked good for his third fifty in the series before edging Umesh Yadav in the slip having played and survived an identical shot on the previous delivery. Renshaw's fluent 44 included seven elegant boundaries.

Ashwin, now the leading wicket-taker in the series, tasted success when he got Shaun Marsh caught at short leg after Kohli successfully reviewed the original not-out decision.

Australia brought in paceman Pat Cummins, who is playing his second test after more than five years in the wilderness, and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell to replace the injured duo of Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Marsh.

India welcomed back opener Murali Vijay, who missed the tempestuous Bengaluru test with a shoulder injury.

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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