Virat Kohli was back to his electrifying best with the bat as he reversed the match’s momentum in India’s favour. (AAP: Richard Wainwright)
The second Test between Australia and India remains tantalisingly poised after tremendous resistance with the bat from the tourists’ talisman, Virat Kohli.
At stumps, Kohli was unbeaten on 82, alongside Ajinkya Rahane (51 not out), with India 3-172, trailing by 154 after dismissing Australia for 326.
The Indian captain arrived in the country with so many eyes on him that even having a good net session drew headlines, but he had not backed it up with the bat against Australia for quite some time.
After bashing six centuries in his first 12 Tests against Australia, Kohli had failed to pass 50 against them in eight innings since 2015.
But, coming in with his team in dire straits at 2-8, Kohli rocketed away to 19 off 12 before the Australian bowlers settled into a more disciplined approach.
Alongside well-known custodian of the crease Cheteshwar Pujara (24), India knuckled down and hit just one boundary in the next 28 overs — scoring at 1.6 an over in that stretch.
Pujara’s dig ended at the start of the 39th over when, after weathering over after over of persistent, probing bowling, he edged a rank Mitchell Starc ball down the leg side and into the gloves of Tim Paine.
Credit must go to Rahane, who came to the crease and immediately released some of the pressure on Kohli with some flashy shots and rapid accumulation of runs.
Virat Kohli had no scores of note against Australia since a ton in January, 2015. (AAP: Dave Hunt)
Together the pair put on 90 runs for the fourth wicket, with Kohli showing a divine straight bat and fantastic timing to Australia’s pace attack, stroking eight boundaries.
It was a gritty recovery from early in India’s innings, when Mitchell Starc (2-42) cleaned up Murali Vijay for a duck with a sublime, in-swinging delivery that skittled the stumps through the gate, before Josh Hazlewood (1-50) levelled KL Rahul’s wicket with a scorching yorker to bowl the opener for 2.
Mitchell Starc produced the ball of the day to remove Murali Vijay just before lunch. (AAP: Richard Wainwright)
Pujara, who scored a century and half-ton in the first Test, got stuck in with an anchor-role knock alongside Kohli after those twin dismissals, but couldn’t quite release the pressure with a sluggish knock.
That changed when Rahane joined Kohli, with the former reaching his 17th Test half-century in the last few overs of the day’s play.
Earlier, Australia’s final four wickets added 49 runs to the overnight total of 6-277, with Tim Paine falling for 38 leg-before to Jasprit Bumrah.
A brief wag in the tail got Australia past 300, a formidable total on paper on a tricky Perth wicket.