Australia threatened to seize the initiative in the second Test at the Kotla on the second day but Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin led the fightback with a 114-run eighth-wicket partnership to leave the difference to just one run. At stumps, Australia had extended their overall lead briskly to 62.
India had slipped to 139 for 7, with Nathan Lyon taking five for 67 in the first two sessions, as Australia’s opening-day 263 took on imposing proportions. While Axar produced an invaluable 74 off 115 balls, Ashwin contributed 37 off 71 balls.
India’s approach to playing spin — with their bat and pad together — was put to test by Lyon from round the wicket. KL Rahul departed when he stretched out to defend and was beaten by the turn. He reviewed but ‘umpire’s call’ prevailed. Once Lyon broke that 46-run opening stand, he ran riot.
Lyon then produced a brilliant piece of bowling to defeat Rohit with a delivery that skidded on into the stumps. Cheteshwar Pujara was cheered to the crease in his 100th Test but his tentative stay ended when he was trapped leg before for a duck by Lyon following a brave DRS call.
Peter Handscomb then did remarkably well to keep his composure at short leg and hold a catch as it rebounded off his body from a strong flick by Shreyas Iyer.
Virat Kohli (44 off 84 balls) and Ravindra Jadeja (26 off 74 balls) steadied the innings in the post-lunch session adding 59 runs for the fifth wicket. But once Todd Murphy and debutant Matthew Kuhnemann dismissed the duo in quick succession, things went downhill for the hosts.
Kohli, who played with a lot of composure and looked good for a big score, would consider himself unlucky that he had to head back due to an umpire’s call. Kuhnemann’s arm ball seemed to be brushing the leg bail and the former captain looked distraught as there was no conclusive evidence on whether the ball hit the pad first or the bat.
Before that, a Murphy slider caught Jadeja plumb in front. Axar and Ashwin then took charge.
Axar produced a magnificent innings during which some of his off-side strokeplay was brilliant. It needed a reflex catch at mid-on from Pat Cummins to put an end to Australia’s woes.
Written with PTI inputs