India reeling at 112/5 in pursuit of 287 in Perth Test

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Perth: India suffered a top order collapse in their chase of 287 after pacer Mohammad Shami brought back the visitors back in the second Test with a six-wicket haul on day four here on Monday.

India were reduced to 112/5 at stumps with Hanuma Vihari (24 not out) and Rishabh Pant (9 not out) at the crease.

KL Rahul (0) played another indecisive stroke and was bowled off Mitchell Starc on the fourth ball of the second innings. Josh Hazlewood then had Cheteshwar Pujara (4) caught behind off a faint edge in the fourth over to leave India leaning on skipper Virat Kohli once again.

However, off spinner Nathan Lyon sent back Kohli for 17 and followed it up by removing Murali Vijay for 20 in his next over. Ajinkya Rahane stroked a breezy 30 before becoming Hazlewood’s second victim.

Earlier, post a wicket-less morning session, Australia collapsed in a heap as they lost five wickets for 15 runs in the space of eight overs.

Mohammed Shami was the wrecker-in-chief, taking 4-26 in seven overs after lunch, as his express pace combined with short stuff bamboozled the Australian lower order. He ended with career-best figures of 6-56 as Australia were bowled out for 243 runs in their second innings.

Skipper Tim Paine (37) was the first to go, unable to negotiate the sharp bounce and gloving to Virat Kohli at second slip.

Fit-to-bat Aaron Finch (25) came out next, but lasted only one ball, clipping down leg side to be caught behind.

Shami was on a hat trick for the second consecutive Test, but missed out.

An over later though, using the second new ball, he got rid of Usman Khawaja (72) with another sharp rising delivery to pick his fourth five-wicket haul in Test cricket.

Eight balls later, Jasprit Bumrah (3-39) castled Pat Cummins (1) with a delivery that kept low.

Nathan Lyon (5) took Australia past 200, but Shami knocked him over in a similar fashion to the rest. The Indian pacer’s previous best was 5-28 against South Africa in Johannesburg in January 2018.

The last-wicket pairing of Starc (14) and Hazlewood (17 not out) frustrated the Indian team though, and added 36 golden runs for the tenth wicket, taking the lead past 280.

In the morning session, Paine and Khawaja had continued their overnight fifth wicket partnership as Australia reached 190-4 at lunch.

Starting from overnight 132-4, the two batsmen negotiated the first hour in a sedate manner. They didn’t look in any rush as only 19 runs were added.

India started with their strike bowlers Bumrah and Shami, but barring a close call for run-out if it had been a direct hit, the visitors never came close to taking a wicket.

Bumrah was pick of the bowlers once again, getting the ball to rear up from length and beating the batsmen on many occasions, in particular Khawaja. But the outside edge continued to elude him.

The duo stepped up on the scoring rate a bit more in the second hour of play, and added another 39 runs to the total.

In doing so, Khawaja reached his 14th Test half-century off 156 balls, whilst taking the overall lead past the 200-run mark.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli and Paine were once again involved in a verbal exchange, with umpire Chris Gaffaney stepping in to ask the duo to get on with the game.

Kohli rotated his bowlers well, with Ishant Sharma (1-45), Umesh Yadav (0-61) and Hanuma Vihari (0-31) giving the requisite control.

Australia’s scoring rate came down to 1.93 per over for the session, and 2.44 per over for the entire innings as the pitch continued to pose riddles.

Australia had scored 326 runs in their first innings, and India replied with 283 runs, thanks to Virat Kohli’s 25th Test hundred, thus conceding a lead of 43 runs.

India lead the four-match series 1-0 after winning the first Test in Adelaide by 31 runs.

 

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