Tim Paine and Cameron Green fell in a collapse of 3-4 but a wagging tail has helped Australia scrap together a first-innings total of 369 in their series-deciding fourth Test against India in Brisbane.
Coach Justin Langer will lament Australia’s inability to post something more imposing but no doubt take heart in the fact that the hosts have never lost a Test at the Gabba after scoring 350-plus in the first innings.
Starc finished 20 not out after stretching Australia’s innings into a 116th over, with lunch called on day two at 12.05pm (local time) after the final wicket fell.
Australia resumed at 5-274 on Saturday, leaving the door open for the tourists’ unheralded attack to potentially work some magic with the second new ball and seize momentum.
Paine (50) and Green (47) enjoyed a productive start to the day against pacemen Mohammed Siraj and Thangarasu Natarajan.
But, just as the morale of an injury-riddled India seemed to be dipping as the temperature lifted, first-change quick Shardul Thakur and offspinning allrounder Washington Sundar conjured the latest momentum shift in a topsy-turvy series.
Paine and Green’s 98-run stand was snapped when an expansive drive from the skipper resulted in Thakur’s second wicket of the game, and a straightforward slips catch for Rohit Sharma.
Green was clean bowled in the following over, when he misread a straight delivery during Sundar’s second over of the day.
Pat Cummins was then trapped lbw by Thakur, making it three wickets in three consecutive overs.
Nathan Lyon, who was given a standing ovation while walking out to bat in his 100th Test, and Starc proceeded to land some entertaining counterpunches.
Lyon stroked four boundaries, while Starc clattered a six off Sundar in their 39-run partnership.
The tourists’ resolve was tested but they never dropped their bundle.
India have suffered a stack of injuries during this tour and been a bowler down in Brisbane since paceman Navdeep Saini trudged off the field after lunch on day one of the series decider.
Substitute fielder Prithvi Shaw copped a painful blow to the leg while stationed at short leg on Saturday, while Rishabh Pant was bothered by a finger injury.
Green, who was dropped on 19 late on day one, offered another chance on 42.
It wasn’t a costly reprieve but captain Ajinkya Rahane will be cursing the fact that his side put down four catches in total.