Captain Virat Kohli determinedly led India’s fightback on an engrossing day two on Saturday, blunting Australia’s bowling attack to leave the second test hanging in the balance.
In reply to Australia’s first innings of 326, India fought back on the green-tinged Perth Stadium pitch to reach stumps at 172 for three with Kohli 82 not out and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane unbeaten on 51.
The home side bowled accurately but the much-hyped pitch, marked with widening cracks, settled down late in the day.
A fired-up Mitchell Starc (2-42) rebounded after coming in for some criticism for his bowling during Australia’s 31-run defeat in the first test in Adelaide.
After losing two wickets in their first six overs, Kohli rescued India through half-century partnerships with the in-form Cheteshwar Pujara and Rahane.
Kohli started confidently by smashing four drives to the boundary in his first 10 deliveries faced, before playing watchfully against some tight Australian bowling.
Kohli and Pujara initially rebuilt India’s innings with a 74-run partnership after a shaky start saw them lose openers Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul cheaply either side of lunch.
Pujara, who was India’s hero in the first test with scores of 123 and 71, fell tamely for a hard-fought 24 when he was caught behind feathering a Starc delivery down the leg side.
An aggressive Rahane counter-attacked to break the shackles, as Kohli reached his first-half century against Australia in almost four years with a powerful cut shot to the boundary.
The India talisman had scored just 83 runs in his past seven test innings against Australia, but his 181-ball knock has given his team hope of reeling in Australia’s competitive first innings total.
Australia, desperate for a victory to level up the series, batted doggedly through the morning under overcast skies to add 49 vital runs to their overnight score.
Tim Paine (38) and Pat Cummins (19) combined for a crucial seventh-wicket partnership of 59.
We take a look at biggest stats from the second Day of the second Australia-India Test in Perth:
— The last time when Australia lost a home Test after scoring 300-plus in their first innings was back in 2008. It happened against South Africa at Melbourne in which they lost after scoring 394 runs in their first innings.
— Pat Cummins has faced 42.08 balls on an average per Test innings this year — the third highest among players who have faced at least 300 balls batting at No 8 or lower. Only Sam Curran (58.17) and Vernon Philander (45.70) are ahead of him in that list.
— Nathan Lyon is the only Australian batsman yet to be dismissed in this series . His scores in this so far are — 24 not out , 38 not out and 9 not out.
— Ishant Sharma's figures of 4 for 41 in Australia's first innings was his best against Australia in Tests.
— Murali Vijay has now been dismissed by Mitchell Starc six times in Tests — the joint-second highest among bowlers who have dismissed the Tamil Nadu batsman. This was the 74th time that Starc took the first wicket of an innings in an international match which is the fourth highest among all the Australian bowlers. Glenn McGrath holds the Australian record, having done so on 174 occasions.
— The last time both Indian openers were bowled in a same Test innings in Australia was back in 1986. It happened in India's first innings at Sydney and the openers were Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth.
— Indian openers' batting average of 18.71 in Tests in SENA countries in 2018 is their lowest in a calendar year in these countries in which they batted at least 15 times.
— Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara have now added 2,500 runs in Tests and their average stand of 47.20 is the lowest among all the Indian pairs who have added at least 2,500 runs in Tests.
— This was Kohli’s 10th fifty-plus score against Australia in Tests, the most he has scored against any team alongside England. It was his 59th fifty-plus score as an Indian captain in international cricket, which is the joint-second most among all Indian captains.
— The last time Ajinkya Rahane scored fifty-plus scores consecutive innings in Test cricket was back in 2015 against South Africa at Delhi.
With inputs from Reuters