Nathan Lyon leads superb bowling attack to put Australia in charge against India in second Test
Indian captain Virat Kohli departs after being dismissed by Nathan Lyon for 17. (AAP: Dave Hunt)
A crucial 10th-wicket partnership and an exemplary team bowling performance have set up a massive chance at victory for Australia in the second Test against India.
Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood combined with bat and ball to rock India, before Nathan Lyon took over with his spin to put India in serious trouble on day four in Perth.
At stumps, India was in trouble at 5-112 with Hanuma Vihari unbeaten on 24 and Rishabh Pant 9 not out. India is chasing a now distant-looking 287 to win the match, after taking a 1-0 series lead in Adelaide.
With Mohammed Shami claiming a six-for and a signature middle-order collapse in full flow for Australia, Starc and Hazlewood turned the match momentum on its head with a vital 36-run partnership for the final wicket, to balloon Australia’s lead just as it looked like India was taking the upper hand.
Then with the ball in hand, Starc demolished Indian opener KL Rahul’s (0) stumps when he chopped an inswinger onto the timbers, before Hazlewood claimed Cheteshwar Pujara’s (4) dismissal three overs later.
Pujara copped a brute of a delivery when it rocketed up at him, catching the corner edge of the bat before sailing through to the keeper.
That set the stage for Lyon to shine, procuring the prized wicket of Virat Kohli for 17 when India’s skipper edged an off-break to Usman Khawaja at slip.
Those gleeful celebrations were quickly followed up when Lyon, in full flight, bowled opener Murali Vijay for 20, putting India four wickets down for just 55 runs.
Josh Hazlewood claimed two wickets to help put Australia well on top against India in Perth. (AAP: Richard Wainwright)
Ajinkya Rahane (30) and Vihari started putting together a partnership at moderate pace, and were looking like a nuisance for Australia before Rahane was dismissed out of the blue.
Cracking what seemed like a perfectly timed cut shot, Rahane instead smashed a Hazlewood delivery straight to Travis Head, who made catching a bullet look easy at point..
Tail saves Australia after familiar collapse
Australia started the day conscious that it needed more than the 175-run lead it had overnight and got a morale boost when opener Aaron Finch was cleared to bat after retiring hurt with an injured finger on day three.
With the full batting complement available once more, Tim Paine and Khawaja set about adding to the total, albeit slowly.
Tim Paine could not go on with his innings as Australia looked to be lurching towards a crippling collapse. (AAP: Dave Hunt)
They added just 58 runs in the morning session, but crucially were still at the crease when lunch arrived.
But any hopes of turning a lunchtime lead of 233 into something well over 300 were quickly snuffed out when Paine and Finch fell in successive Shami deliveries in the first over after the break.
Like his batting teammates, Khawaja succumbed to a Shami short ball, before Jasprit Bumrah clean-bowled Pat Cummins with a ball that refused to get above knee height despite pitching just short of a good length.
Australia had lost 4-6 inside six overs, which became 5-15 when Lyon skied a cut shot to deep point.
Batting was becoming so precarious that there were calls for Paine to declare to protect Starc and Hazlewood, but they were able to add 36 last-wicket runs that were as edgy as they were important before Bumrah snuck one past Starc’s bat and into the stumps.
It ended the innings on 243 and gave India the enormous task of amassing the third-biggest, match-winning chasing total in the team’s history.