IND v AUS, 2nd Test, Day 2: Lyon roars in Indian den, no clear winner yet in a see-saw battle

Wickets continued to fall regularly on day two of the second Test as Nathan Lyon and the other Australia spinners kept the Indian batters on a tight leash.

Published : Feb 18, 2023 17:32 IST

Indian players celebrate as Usman Khawaja’s dismissal.
Indian players celebrate as Usman Khawaja’s dismissal. | Photo Credit: KRISHNAN VV

Indian players celebrate as Usman Khawaja’s dismissal. | Photo Credit: KRISHNAN VV

Australia found a tit-for-tat response with the ball to India to keep the second Test here on a knife’s edge after two days of gripping action. Nathan Lyon (5 for 67) flummoxed India’s top-order batters and the other spinners – Todd Murphy and Matthew Kuhnemann – made important breakthroughs to give their team the advantage before Axar Patel (74, 115b, 9x4, 3x6) and R. Ashwin made hay off the old ball to restore parity.

Australian openers Usman Khawaja and Travis Head couldn’t stick together for the last hour of the day’s play, with Khawaja caught at short leg for 6. Ashwin and Jadeja did try their tricks but there wasn’t much damage they could inflict on Australia. At stumps, Australia was 61 for 1, 62 runs ahead in the second innings, Head entertaining in his strokeful innings of 39 (unbeaten).

Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary

Earlier, Australia’s premier spinner Lyon found the right formula to make a big impact on the game. He grew into a nice rhythm bowling from around the wicket and getting his deliveries to pitch on a good length. Most deliveries turned slightly, some turned sharply, and others went on with the angle. Such was his accuracy that India’s batting line-up was in a state of catatonia for the first half of the day. Lyon wasn’t as effective with the old ball, deviations from the trajectory of the ball more or less disappearing. It was in such a scenario that R. Ashwin and Axar Patel stuck together for 177 balls, adding 114 valuable runs for India. Pat Cummins brought himself on to get reverse swing but couldn’t get a whole lot of it.

K. L. Rahul was the first to depart; he fell lbw, paying the price for failing to negotiate sharp turn. Rohit Sharma looked for turn but the ball went on straight after pitching and hit the stumps.

Cheteshwar Pujara was also undone by Lyon’s turn. He walked out to bat in his 100 th Test amid huge cheers but lasted only seven deliveries. He came down the pitch to smother a good-length delivery from Lyon off the second delivery he faced, and was struck on the pads, but wasn’t given out on the field; the Australians thought against taking the review but replays showed he would have been out. The miscalculation didn’t cost the visitors much, however, as Pujara made the same mistake in Lyon’s next over. This time, the Australians went for the review and he had to walk back.

Shreyas Iyer wasn’t fooled by the spinners but lost his wicket to an excellent catch at short leg by Peter Handscomb. At 66 for 4, the home team was well and truly under pressure.

The other two spinners in the Australian line-up bowled well, too. Kuhnemann and Murphy brought about the downfall of two batters who threatened to take the game away from Australia - Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli. Even as their partnership of 59 runs was blossoming, the duo weren’t in complete control, many times failing to decipher where the ball would go after pitching.

Kohli judged the lengths of the deliveries well, committing fully to either the front foot or the back foot. Despite batting with caution, two of his four boundaries were streaky. One of them was off an edge, the ball evading the slips and racing to the boundary, while the other was off a bottom edge with the ball keeping low. He was at his most vulnerable during an over soon by Murphy bowled soon after lunch. Both Kohli and Jadeja, who was equally tentative off the spinners, fell trying to smother the ball off the front foot.

Ashwin and Axar had to then dig deep to resuscitate India’s innings. They milked the spinners around for runs and the humdrum proceedings in the evening were interspersed with a few big hits from Axar, who survived a half-chance or two en route to a lively 74. Minutes before tea, he clubbed Kuhnemann for a four and a six off back-to-back deliveries before cutting Cummins fiercely through point for another four. Later, he slog-swept Kuhnemann again for another six, this time to bring up his 50. Four more belligerent hits for three boundaries and a six were to follow, before he was caught out against the run of play, in the second over bowled with the new ball.

The Indian tail didn’t last long after the new ball was taken, making it an even-steven affair.

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