Australia recovered to 231-8 at stumps on day one of the final cricket Test against India in Delhi as it bids to avert its worst series result in more than four decades.
The touring team had slumped to 136-7 during the afternoon session before Peter Siddle led a revival with an unbeaten 47. Siddle shared a 53-run partnership with Steve Smith, who made 46, before combining with James Pattinson for an unbroken 42-run stand. Ravichandran Ashwin was India’s best bowler with 4-40, while fellow spinner Ravindra Jadeja and paceman Ishant Sharma each took two wickets.
Shane Watson, leading the national team for the first time in an elite Test after Michael Clarke was ruled out with a back injury, earlier won Australia’s fourth straight toss of the series as it tries to avoid being swept in a four-match contest for the first time since 1970.
“It’s very disappointing that Michael hasn’t come up,” Watson said in a statement. “His batting and leadership will certainly be sorely missed, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and responsibility over the next five days.”
Watson, 31, was reinstated to the lineup as skipper after being among a group of four players suspended for the third Test for failing to submit feedback on how they and the team could improve. He returned home for the birth of his first child before rejoining the squad in Delhi.
Australia made five changes from its six-wicket loss in the third Test. Watson and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade came in for Clarke and Brad Haddin, while fast bowlers Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson, who were also stood down for the third match, replaced Mitchell Starc and Xavier Doherty. Glenn Maxwell was chosen as the all-rounder ahead of Moises Henriques.
India, which has never won four Tests in a series, handed Ajinkya Rahane his debut in place of injured opener Shikhar Dhawan in its only change.
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