1. The Finch & Harris show
There were question marks over Aaron Finch after a massively under par show at Adelaide and talks revolved around a possible demotion down the order for him and getting Shaun Marsh as opener. But Finch, who was troubled by a bevy of inswingers particularly by Mohammed Shami, stayed on as opener with Marcus Harris added 112 runs for the opening wicket - a stand that could prove decisive in the coming days considering the tricky nature of this Perth pitch. They were immensely helped by Indian bowlers, especially Ishant Sharma, who struggled to find the correct length in the first hour or so. When they ought to have pitched the ball up to the batsmen, Indians bowled way short and as per a TV stats 54% of the deliveries were short in that passage of play, allowing Finch and Harris to settle down. It took a quick, full delivery from Jasprit Bumrah to end the swelling stand.
2. India take quick wickets
The Indian bowlers managed to apply some breaks on the Aussies in the middle session and the highlight was Bumrah's spell to Usman Khawaja. Bumrah consistently clocked near 145 kmph and pitched the ball on awkward lengths and there was a sequence of 18 consecutive dot balls. With pressure mounting, Khawaja went for a relief cut shot against Umesh Yadav and managed only a thick edge to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps. The cheekiness of Peter Handscomb, who wanted to run the ball past a packed slip cordon off Ishant, and the wicket of Harris enabled India pick up four wickets for 36 runs that looked to give India a definite edge.
3. Vihari surprises
India announced the 11 for this Test without a specialist spinner after R Ashwin was ruled out with an injury. They had the option of fielding either Kuldeep Yadav or Ravindra Jadeja but played four pacemen, banking on the part-time off-spin of Hanuma Vihari. He did not disappoint either. Vihari made one climb on Harris and all the left-hander could manage was a loopy catch to Ajinkya Rahane at slips. Later, Vihari picked up a set Shaun Marsh, whose rasping cut was snaffled at slip by a tumbling Rahane. On the flip side, Vihari's effort showed that spinners do have a role here and Nathan Lyon will be looking forward to his turn to bowl with lot of eagerness. And India may be tad regretting the call to omit a frontline spinner.
4. Marsh & Head alliance
Australia were tottering at 148 for four and they needed a steady partnership to reach a safer space. Marsh and Head did precisely that adding 84 runs for the fifth wicket that took Australia to 232. Indian bowlers too were bit unlucky during this phase as several times ball beat the edge of the bat without quite taking a snick. Shami looked in rhythm and Bumrah cranked up nice pace on a pitch that appeared to have quickened but fortune was not with them. It took a Vihari's off-spin to end the alliance and Head soon lost his head and played a lofted shot off Ishant for Shami to complete a catch at third man. But skipper Tim Paine and Pat Cummins added a further 45 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket to take Australia that bit ahead.
5. What to expect on Day 2
India would like to wrap Australian innings quickly as their late order batsmen can do some damage. India then would like to bat really well in their first innings and try to pull away from the Aussies and it will be an interesting battle if the pitch retains its tricky character. On their part, Australia would look to reach somewhere near 350 and that could really put pressure on the Indians.