ANI Photo | Second Test evenly poised as India fail to take lead, Australia 61/1 in second innings

Rear guard action by Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin helped India almost level score with Australia in the first innings of the second Test being played here. Australia made a confident start in the second innings and were 64/1 at the close of play on the second day.
Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin were in 114-run partnership to bail out India.
India started the second day at 21/0 which had come off nine overs, with skipper Rohit Sharma (13*) and KL Rahul (4*) having been unbeaten on the first day. They made a solid start on the second day, stealing singles and hitting an occasional boundary or two. However, they could add only 25 runs to their first-day score before spinner Nathan Lyon dismissed KL Rahul for 17 which came off 41 balls. A string of low scores continued for the opener. India were 46/1 at that point.
This brought Cheteshwar Pujara to the crease and fans had high hopes for the man who was playing his 100th Test.
A sweep shot by Rohit in 18.2 overs took India to the 50-run mark. However, Lyon continued to ask questions of Indian batters with his line and length. Lyon played a spoilsport to India’s hopes of recovery after the first wicket dismissing skipper Rohit Sharma (32), Pujara (0) and returning Shreyas Iyer (4) in quick succession. This reduced India to 66/4 in 25.2 overs.
Pujara became the eighth batter and second Indian batter to get a duck in his 100th Test match and failed to make the occasion memorable for himself. Other players to have had this forgettable record to their names are Dilip Vengsarkar, Allan Border, Courtney Walsh, Mark Taylor, Stephen Fleming, Brendon McCullum and Alastair Cook.
Virat and Ravindra Jadeja started to build a small partnership following a flurry of quick wickets. They took India through the remainder of the session without any further damage. The first session belonged to Aussies. Lyon’s spell of 4/25 was the difference between both sides.
India started the second session at 88/4 with Ravindra Jadeja (15*) and Virat Kohli (14*) unbeaten. The duo continued to rebuild the innings and brought India to the 100-run mark in 39.3 overs.
Kohli-Jadeja brought up their fifty-run partnership and seemed to be all set to convert it into a big one. But Todd Murphy played spoilsport, trapping Jadeja leg-before-wicket for 26, which came of 74 balls.
India were 125/5 when the 59-run stand for the fifth wicket ended.
Virat was looking in good touch, playing spinners well. He hit some delightful boundaries against spinners and looked all set to hit his 29th Test half-century. However, spinner Matthew Kuhnemann got his maiden Test wicket as he dismissed Kohli leg-before-wicket. India took the review and there was apparently not enough evidence to overturn the on-field umprire’s decision.
Kohli walked off after a well-made 44 of 84 balls. India were 135/6 at this point. Nathan Lyon continued his destructive run getting a fifer and also his 100th wicket against India in Tests by dismissing wicketkeeper-batter Srikar Bharat for 6. India were 139/7.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel were the next pair and all eyes were on lower-order batters to deliver yet another good performance with the bat. The duo helped India reach the 150-run mark in 53.2 overs. Axar removed some pressure in the 60th over, smashing Kuhnemann for a four and six. Axar-Ashwin took India through the rest of the session without any further damage.
Resuming post Tea session at 179/7 Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel went on to notch up 50-run partnership and the duo also took India’s total beyond the 200-run mark. Southpaw Axar Patel batted brilliantly and went on to score his third Test half-century. Axar-Ashwin pair also notched up a 100-run partnership as India’s score went past 250-run mark. The 114-run partnership was finally broken as Pat Cummins dismissed Ashwin for 37 caught by Matt Renshaw. In the next over, Axar Patel was also dismissed for 74 by Todd Murphy caught by Cummings as the hosts lost their ninth wicket for 259.
India were all out for 262 as Matthew Kuhnemann cleaned up Mohammed Siraj for 1 and Australia took one run lead.
Usman Khawaja and Travis Head walked out to open for Australia in the second innings and Ravichandran Ashwin opened the bowling for India. Ravindra Jadeja gave India the first breakthrough by dismissing left-handed Khawaja for 6 to a brilliant catch by Shreyas Iyer.
The fall of Khawaja’s wicket did not bother Head as he kept on playing aggressive shots and took Australia’s total beyond the 50-run mark.
At the end of the second day, Australia had scored 61 runs with the loss of one wicket in their second innings, taking their lead to 62 runs with nine wickets in hand. Head scored 39 of 40 balls while Labuschagne remained unbeaten on 16.
“Hopefully the batters come out and be positive, stick to our methods. It’s gonna set up for what should be a good Test match. A few more would be nice,” said Nathan Lyon.
Former India cricketer and former bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad again came out lashing at the KL Rahul’s performance.
“And the torrid run continues. More to do with the rigidity of the management to persist with a player who just hasn’t looked the part. No top-order batsman in at least the last 20 years of Indian cricket has played these many tests with such a low average. His inclusion is ….,” Prasad said in a tweet.
Patel expressed happiness over his performance.
“Obviously it feels good to score runs, but the important thing was coming back from a pressure situation. I think because I was able to defend off the middle, my confidence rose and then I was attacking balls that were in my slot,” he said.
“I was asked in WI if I’m a batting or bowling all-rounder. My answer is simple – if I score runs I’m a batting all-rounder, if I get wickets I’m a bowling all-rounder. I got used to the pace of the wicket today, and the ball wasn’t coming on too quickly so I got time. I was trying to attack the left-arm spinner because that’s my match-up. We’d like to reduce them to as low a target as possible, I think the morning session tomorrow will be important. We need to bowl well and pick a couple of wickets,” he added.
Australian spinner Lyon spoke about the Virat’s dismissal decision for which India had taken a referral.
“Virat is a great batter and in my opinion it was out, I’m pretty sure Virat thinks otherwise. Does help when we have burnt a few reviews and one has to applaud the umpires for such decisions,” he said.
Brief Scores: India: 262/10 (Axar Patel 74, Virat Kohli 44, Ravichandran Ashwin 37, Nathan Lyon 5/67) vs Australia 263/10 and 61/1 (Travis Head 39*, Marnus Labuschagne 16*, Ravindra Jadeja 1/23). (ANI)

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