Contrasting performance by openers underlines Australia's commanding Perth win over India

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KL Rahul's poor show continued.

India’s resistance did not last too long on the final day of the Perth Test as Australia stormed to a commanding 146-run win to level the four-match series at 1-1.

Virat Kohli let his bat do the talking but it was Tim Paine and his men who had the last laugh as they made amends for their 31-run loss in the series opener at Adelaide.

At the end of a Test filled with plenty of drama, we look at two reasons for Australia’s success as well as the two areas the visitors need to improve in.

AUSTRALIA

LYON’S MASTERY OF HOME CONDITIONS

India’s decision to not field a single specialist spinner in the match was made to look foolish by Nathan Lyon who continued his stronghold over the opposition.

The Aussie off-spinner out-bowled his India counterpart Ravichandran Ashwin by some distance in Adelaide and followed it up with another match-winning display at Perth. Making excellent use of the pace and bounce on offer, Lyon’s five-wicket haul ensured the hosts a vital first innings lead.

He added three more wickets to his kitty in the second innings including the vital scalp of Kohli. His performance was the difference between the two sides.

A match-winning effort from Lyon.

A match-winning effort from Lyon.

OPENERS’ EXCELLENT START

The foundation of Australia’s big win was laid in the first innings by their openers Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris. Despite lacking in Test match experience, the duo put in a display that was both assured and composed.

Batting first on a pitch which had plenty for the fast bowlers, Finch and Harris put on a 112-run opening stand. That partnership allowed Australia to post a challenging first-innings total despite India’s bowlers coming back strongly.

The two openers were looking good in the second innings too when the pitch had deteriorated considerably before Finch had to retire hurt due to multiple body blows. The match story could have been completely different if not for their first-innings stand.

Australia's opening pair stood up to the task.

Australia’s opening pair stood up to the task.

INDIA

OPENERS CONUNDRUM

While Australia’s openers played an important role in the hosts’ win, their India counterparts failed miserably in their roles.

KL Rahul’s horror show continued with the right-hander falling for just two in the first innings before being dismissed for a duck in the second.

Meanwhile, Murali Vijay continues to look a shadow of his former self with scores of 0 and 20. With Prithvi Shaw ruled out of the entire tour, India’s opening woes have deepened with neither Rahul nor Vijay inspiring any confidence at the moment.

As such, India will now have to place their hopes on a rookie in Mayank Agarwal who has only just flown in as a late replacement. Even if Agarwal comes in for the Boxing Day Test, he can only fill one hole when India have two gaping ones in the form of Rahul and Vijay.

Given the pressure the out of form openers are putting on the rest of the batting order, this is one area India will need to fix immediately if they are to keep their dreams of a maiden series win in Australia alive.

Vijay looks a shell of his former self.

Vijay looks a shell of his former self.

TAIL WOES

The difference in the tails once again proved crucial with Australia’s lower-order contributing a total of 146 runs with the bat while their India counterparts could muster only nine. That 146 runs proved to be the ultimate difference between the two teams is telling.

While it would be unfair to ask India’s tail to show more prowess with the bat, questions need to be asked of India’s bowling department which allowed Australia’s lower-order to make such an important contribution.

This problem was there to see at Adelaide too when Lyon, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc nearly pulled off an improbable win for the hosts despite Australia being down and out at one stage.

Leaking runs to the tail had been the bane of India in their defeat in England earlier this year and Kohli’s men will need to heed their lessons quickly if they are to avoid the same fate in Australia.

Too many runs leaked to the tail by Kohli's men.

Too many runs leaked to the tail by Kohli’s men.

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