Kuldeep Yadav made an instant impact in his first outing as an international Test cricketer, taking four wickets on Day 1 of the fourth and final Test between India and Australia at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association in Dharamsala. Australia were in a dominant position at lunch, having lost just one wicket and 131 runs on the board. However, it went quickly downhill for the visitors as India's debutant produced some stunning deliveries to leave the Australian batsmen shell-shocked. Australia were bowled out for 300 as Kuldeep ended the day with four wickets while India were 0 for no loss at stumps.
India's day didn't get off to the most auspicious of starts as skipper Virat Kohli failed to recover from his shoulder injury and was ruled out of the deciding Test. Ajinkya Rahane took up the mantle of captaincy in Kohli's absence with India making two changes -- Kuldeep Yadav and Bhuvnneshwar Kumar replacing Umesh Yadav.
Umesh gave India the perfect start by removing the impressive Matt Renshaw in the second over of the Test. The visitors were lucky not to lose David Warner on the opening ball of the match as Karun Nair put down a difficult chance at slips.
Steve Smith (111) and Warner steadied Australia's ship and went from strength to strength as the session progressed. Smith, especially, looked in ominous touch and was in no difficulty against the Indian bowlers.
Australia went into lunch at 131 for one and looked set to make a big first innings total with both Smith and Warner looking good.
However, India launched a brilliant fightback with Kuldeep turning tormentor-in-chief. The left-arm spinner first removed Warner with stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane taking a brilliant catch in the slips.
I am impressed with @imkuldeep18's variations and the way he has started. Keep going strong, this can be your match to shine.— sachin tendulkar (@sachin_rt) March 25, 2017
Umesh got his second as Shaun Marsh (4) failed to recapture his Ranchi form.
Things went from bad to worse for the Australians as Peter Handscomb (8) fell prey from a wonderful delivery from Kuldeep. Glenn Maxwell, who scored a century in Ranchi, tried to hit Kuldeep out of the attack but India's debutant was in no mood to be intimidated and got his man with an unplayable googly.
While it was carnage at one end, Smith once again showed his class by scoring his 20th Test ton and third century of the innings. The Australian captain, however, failed to get a big one as he became Ravichandran Ashwin's first victim.
It was a momentous wicket for Ashwin as the Indian spinner broke Dale Steyn's record for most wickets in a season.
Ashwin now has 79 wickets from 13 Tests in the 2016-17 season at an average of 25.64. He has also bagged seven five-wicket hauls and three 10-wicket hauls in this period.
Steyn, on the other hand, had 78 scalps from 12 matches in the 2007-08 season at a staggering average of 16.24.
Ashwin had already equalled Steyn when he picked up Glenn Maxwell during the Ranchi Test. He had to wait for a few days before he could make the record his own.
After Smith's departure, it seemed it was only a matter of time before Australia were bundled out. But wicketkeeper batsman Matthew Wade (57) put on a spirited display to notch his fourth Test half-century.
Wade was finally dismissed by Ravindra Jadeja while Bhuvneshwar Kumar took the wicket of Nathan Lyon to wrap up Australia's innings.
India came out to bat for one over with KL Rahul making sure that the hosts ended the day without any hiccups.