Nathan Lyon’s five-wicket haul and Usman Khawaja’s resistance with the bat ensured Australia stayed on top in the second Test in Perth despite a century by Virat Kohli.At stumps, Australia were 132 for 4 with a lead of 175. Khawaja was unbeaten on 41 with Tim Paine (8) for company. India were earlier bowled out for 283, with Kohli top-scoring with 123 and Lyon returning 5 for 67.
The lead was healthy given the wear and tear on the pitch. The only way India could have fought back was through wickets; India should have had a wicket in the fifth over but Cheteshwar Pujara dropped a marginally tough catch at first slip to hand Marcus Harris a reprieve when he was batting on just one. At the other end, Aaron Finch rubbed salt on India’s wounds and stretched Australia’s lead with a few boundaries.
The partnership, which had added 112 in the first innings, crossed 30 before India got a bit of fortune in the form of Finch’s injury. The opener was hit on his right index finger by a rising Mohammed Shami delivery at the stroke of tea. Retired hurt, Finch was taken to the hospital for scans.
India stepped up the intensity in the final session, with Jasprit Bumrah going through a superb spell and Shami supporting him well. Bumrah was quick, accurate and even menacing, having the batsmen dancing to his tunes. It ultimately resulted in Harris’ wicket, the batsman leaving one that angled in to clip top of off-stump.
Shami soon had Shaun Marsh nicking to the keeper while trying to pull.
Peter Handscomb tried to negate India’s attack with a few shots, but the arrival of Ishant Sharma ended his stay for 13 off 14. Knowing Handscomb stands deep in his crease, Ishant bowled a full in-swinger which the batsman missed completely to be given out LBW.
At 85 for 3, with uncertainty surrounding Finch’s availability, India sniffed a chance. They were high on intensity, but the good work of Bumrah, Ishant and Shami was not backed up by Umesh Yadav.
In times when India needed all their guns blazing, Umesh was inconsistent with line and length, and thus expensive; his first seven overs cost 38 runs. It frustrated India, allowed Usman Khawaja to settle in, and helped Australia extend their lead.
It also forced Kohli to bowl Hanuma Vihari, who held up one end by bowling wide outside off to the left-handed Khawaja and Travis Head. The two added 35 for the fourth wicket before Head threw it away, slashing Shami to third man in a replica of his first-innings dismissal.
India could have had Khawaja before stumps too, but Rahane missed a tough chance at slip off Vihari.
The game was in the balance when the day started with India on 172/3. They had two set batsmen in Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, but Lyon had the latter caught behind in the fourth ball of the day.
Kohli crossed his century and added 50 for the fifth wicket with Vihari. The Indian captain fell edging Pat Cummins to second slip, where Handscomb took a low catch.
Kohli stood his ground, but the third umpire didn’t find much evidence to overrule the on-field soft signal. Lyon then took care of the long Indian lower-order, ensuring Australia a handy lead.
First Published: December 16, 2018, 3:50 PM IST