• Skippers square up as Aussies push advantage

    Set 287 for victory in the second Test, India got off to a dreadful start to their second innings as Australia took a major step towards squaring the series in Perth, with Tim Paine claiming a moral victory over his opposite number, Virat Kohli.

    With India 1-0 up in the series, tensions were running high on the fourth day. Tim Paine and Virat Kohli squared up and exchanged words after the pair bumped into one another as Paine attempted a quick single, with Kohli running towards the non-striker’s end to be in place for a possible run-out. The two engaged in some mild verbal sparring before umpire Chris Gaffaney reminded them of their leadership responsibilities.

    The short bout of gamesmanship continued when Paine was dismissed eight overs later, but by the close of the play Paine was able to claim the moral ascendancy, as Kohli had been dismissed and India were five down, still needing 175 runs for victory.

    Nathan Lyon of Australia celebrates the wicket of Virat Kohli. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    At the start of play, Usman Khawaja took his overnight 41 to 72 off 213 balls, with Paine adding 29 more runs to post a personal score of 37 off 116 balls as the pair added a vital 72 runs, with each partner facing 116 balls during their stand. With the fall of Paine, Australia lost their next four wickets for just 15 runs, before Josh Hazlewood (14) and Mitchell Starc (17 not out) added a crucial 36 off 39 balls for the last wicket.

    Their partnership could well prove to be a match-winning contribution, and would have frustrated the Indian bowlers and captain Kohli. Mohammed Shami took 6-56, his fourth Test five-for and his best innings figures in his 38th Test, while Jasprit Bumrah proved hard to get away, returning 3-39 at just 1.53 runs to the over. Ishant Sharma took 1-45, with Australia bowled out for 243 off 93.2 overs.

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    Chasing a tempting 287 with almost a day and a half in hand, KL Rahul fell to the fourth ball of the innings after trying to leave a wide delivery from Mitchell Starc, but succeeding only in edging it on to his stumps. Cheteshwar Pujara then suffered his first failure of the series, being caught behind by Paine off Hazlewood for four.

    The big blow for India came when Virat Kohli fell for 17 off 40 balls with the score on 48, followed shortly by Murali Vijay for 20, bowled by Nathan Lyon to leave India in deep trouble at 55-4.

    Ajinkya Rahane was the fifth wicket to fall with the score on 98 having scored 30 off 47 balls (2×4, 1×6). Playing in his second Test, Hanuma Vihari added to his first innings 20 off 46 balls by seeing the day’s play out to end undefeated on 24 off 58 balls (4×4), with Rishabh Pant not out on nine off 19 balls.

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    Lyon ended the day with excellent figures of 12-2-30-2 (econ 2.50), with Hazlewood even more economical with 11-3-24-2 (econ 2.18), as India closed on 112-5 off an action-packed 41 overs.

    India need another 175 runs to win on the final day, which is within their reach, but with just five wickets in hand, the initiative is firmly in Australia’s hand.


    Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

    Post by

    Simon Lewis