Perth Test: India make poor start as Australia set 287 for win

Perth: India suffered a poor start in their chase of 287 after pacer Mohammad Shami brought the visitors back in the reckoning in the second Test with a six-wicket haul on day four here today.

Shami took career-best figures of 6-56 as Australia were bowled out for 243 runs in their second innings.

India were then reduced to 15-2 at tea with Murali Vijay (6 not out) and Virat Kohli (0 not out) at the crease. K L Rahul (0) played another indecisive stroke and was bowled off Mitchell Starc (1-6) on the fourth ball of the second innings.

The bigger moment came when Josh Hazlewood (1-5) had Cheteshwar Pujara (4) caught behind off a faint edge in the fourth over to leave India leaning on Kohli once again.

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. 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.

Skipper Tim Paine (37) was the first go, unable to negotiate sharp bounce and gloving to Virat Kohli at second slip. Fit-to-bat Aaron Finch (25) came out to bat next, but lasted only one ball, clipping down leg side and 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) got rid of Pat Cummins (1), bowled off a delivery keeping too low. Nathan Lyon (5) hit out and took Australia past 200, but Shami knocked him over in similar fashion to the rest. His previous best was 5-28 against South Africa in Johannesburg in January 2018.

Mohammed Shami

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 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 came forth. 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.