India vs Australia: Shami shines but India on brink of defeat

India pacer Mohammed Shami returned his best Test match figures on a day when Virat Kohli's men were pushed to the brink of defeat by a resilient host side.

Nathan Lyon snared Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay in quick succession to leave India reeling.   -  getty images

A week is a long time in international cricket. On December 10, Virat Kohli’s men defeated Australia in the first Test in Adelaide, and next day, they flew to Perth.

Over the last few days, the visitor fought hard at the Optus Stadium but the tipping point has passed and the second Test rests within Australia’s grasp.

As it happened

Just as the shadows lengthened here on Monday, India struggled to stay afloat. Chasing a daunting 287, Kohli’s men were gasping at 112 for five in their second innings. The fourth day was about the rivals battling for control and as it concluded, Australia held the reins and is well placed to draw level at 1-1 on Tuesday. 

Rahul's nightmare

K.L. Rahul lost his timber in the first over, lengthening his spell of lean run in this series.   -  getty images

 

Tim Paine’s men scored 243 in their second innings and India's pursuit became an exercise in diminishing hope once K.L. Rahul lost his timber in the first over. The opener did the forward-press trigger, but strangely vacillated over a Mitchell Starc thunderbolt. Rahul shouldered arms but the reflex was late and the ball brushed his bat and crashed into the stumps.

Next man Cheteshwar Pujara feathered Josh Hazlewood’s bouncer to Tim Paine. India was 13 for two and the stage was again set for Kohli to mount a rescue-act. He and Murali Vijay remained guarded through a tense 15-over phase on either side of tea.

The scoring opportunities were few and on those rare occasions when the Aussies erred, Kohli was quick to drive and pull while Vijay too freed his arms. The two added 35 for the third wicket before Nathan Lyon struck twice. Kohli defended but the edge was taken; Vijay drove while the off-spinner slipped one through the gate.

Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari then forged a minor partnership. The former was aggressive, slashing Starc, the latter picked his fours off Lyon. But once Rahane uppishly square-drove Hazlewood to Travis Head at point, India was down for the count, still 175 runs adrift and with just five wickets in hand.

Kohli, Paine at it again

The Indian skipper was constantly chatting, and Paine too joined the verbal slugfest. Umpire Chris Gaffaney had to intervene and remind the two gentlemen about them being the captains of their respective teams.   -  getty images

 

Earlier the Australian second innings was a tale of two parts. The first session was about doughty defence and streaky runs. After lunch, it was a medley of flailing arms and swaying heads as Mohammed Shami’s bouncers unhinged the batsmen.

The morning, though, was about Usman Khawaja (72) and Paine thwarting the Indians. Paine cut Shami and nearly lobbed a catch off Ishant Sharma but the Australian captain survived and shared a 72-run fifth-wicket partnership with Khawaja.

Before play commenced, Kohli signed autographs, and he seemed relaxed. But once the first ball was bowled, the Indian skipper was constantly chatting, and Paine too joined the verbal slugfest. Umpire Chris Gaffaney had to intervene and remind the two gentlemen about them being the captains of their respective teams.

Shami breathes fire

Shami’s bouncer-spree continued unabated through a fiery spell of 7-1-26-4.    -  getty images

 

Australia moved to 190 for four at lunch, nursing an overall lead of 233 and just as India seemed resigned for a long afternoon under the sun, the script changed immediately after the break. Shami dismissed Paine and Aaron Finch, who was cleared to bat.

Paine fended, Finch tried to deflect down the leg-side and two successive bouncers had done the trick. Shami then accounted for Khawaja with another bouncer and the pitch sprung a surprise as Jasprit Bumrah’s delivery stayed low and castled Pat Cummins.

Shami’s bouncer-spree continued unabated through a fiery spell of 7-1-26-4. Lyon was struck on his helmet and after the mandatory treatment, scooped the next ball straight to Vihari and Shami had his six-for. But Australia’s last pair of Starc and Hazlewood added 36 and with that the tide again turned.