Responding to Australia’s first-innings score of 326, India’s batsmen were put under some severe pressure by the hosts before they reached 172-3 at stumps in Perth.
At the end of what was a seesaw battle on Saturday, we take a look at the key talking points.
INDIA’S OPENERS FAIL PACE TEST
After some fine batting down the order from Aussie skipper Tim Paine and Josh Hazlewood had helped the hosts posts 326 in their first innings, their pacers provided them with a blazing start with the ball.
While Australia’s openers Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris had added as many as 112 runs for the first wicket, there would be no such luck for their India counterparts who failed miserably against the fuller ball.
In the final over before lunch on day two, Murali Vijay was sucked in by a Mitchell Starc special which curved back sharply into the right-hander before dismantling his stumps. There would be no respite for the tourists post lunch either with Hazlewood’s searing yorker beating KL Rahul’s defence all ends up to leave India reeling at 8-2.
While India’s pacers had erred on day one by bowling too short at times, their Aussie counterparts showed that going full was the way to go on the Perth pitch.
PUJARA SUCCUMBS TO CONCERTED AUSSIE PRESSURE
India’s Adelaide Test win hero Cheteshwar Pujara looked determined to get stuck in once again in a tricky period which ensued after the fall of India’s openers.
Australia’s pace trio and Nathan Lyon were sniffing blood after the electric start as Pujara and Virat Kohli were put through a tough grind in the middle.
After Kohli had released the shackles with some early boundaries in his innings, Pat Cummins and Lyon put on an exhibition of attacking bowling to put the tourists under pressure. The duo was relentless in their pursuit as the two batsmen were forced into their shells due to some accurate bowling littered with plays and misses, edges and miscues.
Only 16 runs came in 12 overs bowled by Lyon and Cummins on the trot before Kohli finally scored a boundary just before tea. That pressure, however, would pay off for the hosts early into the final session with Starc finding Pujara’s edge with a shorter delivery going down the leg-side.
SUPERB KOHLI AND COUNTER-ATTACKING RAHANE LEAD INDIA FIGHTBACK
With Australia’s noses well in front following Pujara’s dismissal, it was left to skipper Kohli to manufacture a fightback for the tourists. The right-hander was fluent to start with as he carved some delectable boundaries but then had to weather the storm with Lyon and Cummins bowling their hearts out.
Despite some close plays and misses, Kohli was resolute to not throw his wicket away and made sure to profit whenever the Aussie bowlers strayed slightly from their lengths.
He brought up his 20th Test half-century and his first of the series as he signalled his intentions to take the fight to the Aussies. He found the perfect foil at the other end through his deputy Ajinkya Rahane who came out to fight fire with fire with a brisk fifty.
With Australia’s pacers well on top, Rahane took the attack to the hosts with a counter-attacking punch that also saw him cut Starc for a huge six over third man.
The two batsmen shared an unbeaten 90-run stand to put India in a strong position ahead of what will be a pivotal day three at Perth.
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