Khawaja also stressed that the hosts are still ahead in the second Test with India 154 runs adrift of Australia’s first innings’ total of 326. “We haven’t lost the upper hand and are still ahead of the game. Ajinkya Rahane came out and took on the short ball but we pegged them back as bowlers started bowling well,” he said. “We need to do it consistently through the whole period. We knew that but some days it comes easy, some days it doesn’t.
“If you give him an opportunity to score, he will take it. He was on it today and we gave him a couple of fuller balls, so he hit us but at the same time we had to attack stumps and see what the wicket had to offer. “Probably bowling back of length was harder than fuller length, so he got away. Tomorrow he starts again so we have a chance,” he added.
Australian batsman Usman Khawaja hopes that the lady luck shines on the hosts as they target skipper Virat Kohli’s wicket early on the third day of the second Test to expose the Indian tail. Kohli scored an unbeaten 82 off 181 balls to lift India to 172 for 3 from a precarious 8 for 2 in their first innings, in reply to Australia’s 326 all out on the second day. “Virat is a good batsman. He respects good bowlers. All our bowlers bowled well in patches today. Sometimes they nick it sometimes they don’t. We just have to keep putting it in right place in the right time. We have to be disciplined enough to get those edges and a bit of luck is needed,” Khawaja said on Saturday.
“Like I said the pressure comes from him being the No. 1 bowler and I know that from going through that myself. You’re expected to perform. “I think sometimes performances can be really really good and then really poor and if you don’t bring those closer together then you can really see that. And I think that’s maybe where he is at, at the moment.”
Johnson was also quite impressed with the way Starc and his captain Tim Paine set up Pujara. “I liked that he got aggressive. Tim Paine came up to him mid-over … and said to him, ‘let’s go short here and set the field, get yourself really going and fired up’. And he got the wicket the next over, so I’m liking what I’m seeing right now,” he said.
Starc got rid of Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara to put Australia on the front foot before Indian captain Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane stepped up to leave the second Test in the balance on Day 2. Johnson said he understands why Starc was under pressure, and loved the way he went about his business today. “I think he’s definitely been under pressure and talked about it a lot this series and I think the reason is he is the No. 1 bowler in the team. He’s looked at and everyone wants him to perform all the time and be at his best,” Johnson said. “We know what he brings to the table, he can swing the ball upfront like he did there and see that emotion that brings as well. He was fired up, pumped up — that’s what we like about Mitchell Starc.”
Former Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson, who had earlier criticised Mitchell Starc for his under-par performance in the first Test, was pretty impressed with the kind of rhythm the 28-year-old bowled with on the second day of the Perth Test against India. “I sat down and spoke to him before this Test and just wanted to see how he was feeling and he said that he’d been feeling good and felt like his rhythm was good and his ankle has been feeling fine,” Johnson told Fox Cricket. “I think in Adelaide he was probably just looking back a couple of times because there are footmarks that play around, but I saw some really good rhythm here from him today. Getting over that front leg, he got the shape early on.”
A 90-run partnership between Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane ensured that India reached to 172/3, 154 runs behind Australia’s first innings total. These two batsmen will have to continue in a similar fashion if India wants to harbour any hopes of winning the match. Hello and welcome to day three of this enthralling Test.