Fourth Test: Australia claim advantage on second day
Dharamsala, March 26 (IANS): Off-spinner Nathan Lyon captured four wickets in the final session to hand Australia an advantage on the second day of the fourth and final cricket Test against India here on Sunday.
Lyon returned figures of 4/67 as India reached 248/6 in their first innings at stumps. Ravindra Jadeja was batting on 16 with Widdhriman Saha on 10 at the other end when the umpires decided to call it a day.
The hosts now trail Australia’s first innings total of 300 by 52 runs.
Fast bowlers Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood bowled with excellent pace and movement to bag a wicket each.
Despite losing openers Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul in the first two sessions of the day, India were coasting along comfortably albeit a bit slowly until the tea break.
However, the momentum swerved decisively in the visitors’ favour in the final session.
Pujara, who was batting quite comfortably, departed in the very first over after tea when a Lyon delivery turned in sharply after pitching to hit the gloves and then the pad before lobbing up for an easy catch to Peter Handscomb at short leg.
Pujara scored 57 runs with six hits to the fence and was involved in a 49-run partnership with stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane.
Karun Nair (5) departed a short while later when he tried to defend a Lyon delivery on the back foot. The ball hit his gloves to lob up into the air and Australian wicketkeeper completed the catch.
Rahane, however, continued to bat aggressively before misjudging the bounce and turn of a Lyon delivery and Australian skipper Steven Smith pulled off an excellent reflex catch in the slips.
Lyon put the hosts in further trouble when he trapped Ravichandran Ashwin leg before wicket.
Ashwin, who was looking good with the bat, scored 30 runs off 49 balls, which included four boundaries.
Earlier, opener Lokesh Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara hit half-centuries and produced a partnership of 87 runs following the early dismissal of Murali Vijay.
Rahul batted steadily to score 60 runs with nine hits to the fence and a six before being dismissed while trying to hit a short pitched delivery from Pat Cummins over the onside.
Resuming the post lunch session at 64/1, Pujara and Rahul scored at the rate of almost four runs an over before the latter was dismissed.
Rahul had batted patiently for 124 deliveries before a verbal volley from Cummins appeared to affect his concentration.
Cummins produced a bouncer with his next ball and Rahul tried to hook it from outside the off-stump line. However, the Karnataka right-hander could not connect properly and only managed to offer an edge off the toe end of the bat to David Warner at cover. Rahane walked in and almost handed another wicket to Cummins when he tried to guide another bouncer over the slip cordon. With a third man in place, the Mumbai batsman was lucky not to connect bat with ball.
The Indian stand-in captain continued to be aggressive and was off the mark in spectacular fashion, pulling Cummins for a boundary before top edging the next ball for a six over the wicketkeeper’s head.
Rahul and Pujara had scored at the rate of around four runs an over in the first hour after lunch. But the former’s dismissal saw the run rate go down.
Rahane survived another chance when he offered an outside edge while attempting to drive a delivery from Steve O’Keefe which was slightly outside the off-stump line.
Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, however, could not collect the catch and the hosts went into the tea break without further mishap.
Earlier, India posted 64/1 by lunch. The hosts started off on a slow note with Vijay and Rahul batting cautiously and leaving most of the deliveries on or outside the off-stump.
Cummins found success with the second ball of his second spell when an away going delivery found took an outside edge of Vijay’s bat for a simple catch by the wicketkeeper.
Cummins missed out on a wicket in his next over when Rahul edged one to first slip but the ball went over Renshaw on its way to the boundary.
Rahul and Pujara, however, ensured that the hosts went into the lunch break without losing a wicket.