Mohammed Shami led India’s fightback with a six-wicket haul after Usman Khawaja and Tim Paine batted out a wicket-less first session, but Australia still managed to set India a massive target of 287 on a spicy Perth pitch in the second Test.Shami bagged 6 for 56, Jasprit Bumrah got 3 for 39 as Australia were bowled out for 243 in their second innings. Usman Khawaja (72) and Tim Paine (37) added 72 for the fifth wicket to keep India at bay, before the pacers struck back
Australia began the day on 132 for 4, and had the best of starts with Khawaja and Paine digging in. Runs were not easy to get, but the duo held firm and frustrated India with stubborn resistance. Khawaja went past his half-century and settled in for the long haul, while Paine too remained solid. Only 58 runs came from 30 overs before lunch, India’s agony extending with every passing over.

The Indian captain Virat Kohli even tried to unsettle his Australian counterpart by moving himself to mid-on, and was involved in a war of words. That didn’t stop Australia from extending their lead past 200.

What India did well through that phase, however, was to control the run-flow. It meant the game didn’t slip away completely, and allowed for a comeback post lunch.

Shami led the fightback, getting Paine with a brutal unplayable short ball that was gloved to Kohli at second slip. Aaron Finch, who had retired hurt with a thumb injury on the third day, followed the very next ball when he gloved one down leg side.

Khawaja was the only frontline batsman then to counter the second new ball, but he too fell to a quick short ball from Shami which he edged to Rishabh Pant. Bumrah then got into the act, getting Pat Cummins bowled with one that stayed really low.

Nathan Lyon then slashed Shami to deep point to give him his sixth wicket.

Some of the good work, though, was undone by the last wicket partnership of 36, which took only 38 balls. Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc survived some sharp short balls from Bumrah & co to frustrate India, stretching the lead closer to 300. Bumrah finally ended the stand when he bowled Starc with a quick one.

India would have been relieved with the wickets, but they’d also have got a sense of fear. The pitch was menacing and exploding, a few balls jumping up and the odd one keeping low. The sight would have excited Australia’s pace battery, and it will take a monumental effort from India’s batsmen if they are to hold on to their lead in the four-match series.

First Published: December 17, 2018, 12:11 PM IST