Matt Renshaw showed an unprecedented level of subcontinent experience beyond his years in Pune, where Australia reached 9-256 at stumps on day one of their first Test against India.
Renshaw and Mitchell Starc, who smashed a half-century in 47 balls, helped the tourists bat through Thursday on a genuine spinners’ paradise.
Starc and Josh Hazlewood’s unbeaten final-wicket stand is already worth 51 runs.
Renshaw retired hurt on 36 because of a stomach bug in Thursday’s morning session, but returned to bat after the pre-tea dismissal of Steve Smith.
“That was the most challenging bit, waiting to bat … because as an opener you just go straight out there and bat,” Renshaw said.
“I felt quite bad, knowing that I could be letting the team down. That’s why I went back out there,
“He (Smith) wasn’t too thrilled about it (retiring hurt) but he understands that when you need to go to the toilet, you need to go to the toilet.
“We’ve had a chat now, we’re all good.”
Renshaw, having never set foot in India before arriving last week, was eventually out edging to Ravichandran Ashwin for 68 after facing 156 deliveries.
The 20-year-old’s knock was impressive on several fronts – not just because he overcame illness to become the youngest Australian to post a Test half-century in India.
Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the world’s two best Test bowlers according to the ICC’s rankings, were turning the ball square on a cracking dust bowl likened to the “surface of Mars” by Shane Warne.
“I’ve never seen a pitch like that, so I just went in with a pretty open mind,” Renshaw said.
“I tried to do what I normally do in Australia, which is try and bat as long as possible and try and wear the bowlers down.
“We’ve had a great day and it’s a good confidence builder.”
India’s assistant coach Sanjay Bangar was impressed with the way Renshaw “applied himself”.
“For a younger player he showed a lot of character playing in his first Test in India,” Bangar said.
Renshaw’s teammates didn’t surrender in the sort of woeful fashion that had underlined a nine-Test losing streak in Asia, but equally none of them passed 40 apart from Starc.
Smith, who won the toss and confirmed Australia had opted against picking a third spinner, survived 95 balls but was needlessly out for 27.
Smith charged down the wicket and chipped a catch straight to opposing captain Virat Kohli at midwicket, gifting Ashwin the first of his two wickets.
Peter Handscomb departed the previous over and it would have been a collapse of 3-0 if not for the Decision Review System, which saved Mitch Marsh from a second-ball duck.
Paceman Umesh Yadav, who didn’t bowl until the 28th over, removed David Warner with his second ball and finished as India’s leading-wicket taker with four scalps.