Australia continued to dominate in the fourth day of the Second Test against India. Resuming the day’s play at 132/4, Usman Khawaja and Baggy Greens captain Tim Paine played watchfully in the first session where they treaded carefully.
The Indian bowlers bowled their hearts out but were unsuccessful in sending either of the two batsmen back to the pavilion. Mohammed Shami was particularly impressive as he bowled three maidens on a trot. The Kangaroos didn’t even give a sniff of a chance to the Indians, thus finishing the first session with at 190/4 with a lead of 233 runs. The pair had added a mere 58 runs in the session but more importantly, they had not lost any wickets.
Khawaja, meanwhile, reached to his 14th Test Fifty whereas Tim Paine ably supported the New South Wales southpaw, himself scoring an important 37 in the process. As the play resumed after lunch, Tim Paine was dismissed via a bouncer from Shami. A rattled Paine touched the ball which was caught by Virat Kohli in the slips. Aaron Finch was dismissed in the very next ball, caught behind by Rishabh Pant.
In the very next over the new ball was taken as India went for the kill. Shami soon dismissed Khawaja who got a faint edge off his glove which was comfortably caught by Pant. Khawaja perished scoring valuable 72 runs as Australia were reduced to 198 for the loss of seven wickets. An over later, Bumrah joined the party as he bowled out Pat Cummins through a ball that was kept very low.
Nathan Lyon too was dismissed after he was caught at deep point by Hanuma Vihari off Shami’s delivery. This wicket led Shami gaining his career best figure through a six-fer. Josh Hazlewood joined Mitchell Starc in the middle as the Indians wanted to wrap up the Australian innings quickly.
Starc and Hazlewood, however, had other plans. They went on scoring freely attacking each and every ball, thus quickly taking the Australian lead past 280. Bumrah then bowled a beamer that dismissed an astonished Starc. The Australians were bundled up for 243, giving the Indians a target of 287. The last wicket partnership of 36 runs proved to be crucial as it took the Aussie lead from 250 to 286 in a few minutes. It gave the Aussies a mental edge over the Indians on the fast-bouncy Perth pitch.
For Australia, Usman Khawaja top scored with 72 runs. For India, Shami was the pick of the bowlers as he managed six for 56 thus achieving his career-best figures.
Chasing a target of 287, the Indian openers were expected to put in a strong performance to give India a glimpse of their seventh Test victory in Australia.
The Australian bowlers, however, blitzed through India’s batsmen. Mitchell Starc got KL Rahul in only the fourth delivery. Starc got Rahul, who played down the Aussie’s bowl only for it to dislodge the bails. Cheteshwar Pujara soon perished as he was caught back to Paine off Hazlewood’s delivery. The Saurashtra batsman gloved the ball while trying to leave the ball.
The Indians were reeling at this stage with just 13 runs on the board for the loss of two wickets. Virat Kohli joined Murali Vijay in the middle and both added just two runs to the score at the end of the second session.
All hopes for an India win now rested on Virat Kohli’s shoulders, and he along with Vijay played cautiously, scoring runs bit by bit. A trap, however, was set up by Lyon to dismiss Kohli when he bowled consistently at his leg stump. He then bowled one delivery around off stump and the ball didn’t turn. Kohli, expecting the turn, edged that particular delivery not realizing it was a trap and was caught at slips by Khawaja. The Indian scoreboard now read 48/3.
Ajinkya Rahane joined Vijay in the middle and looked positive, scoring runs easily. Vijay, on the other hand, gifted his wicket away while trying to play a cover drive. Hanuma Vihari along with Rahane then steadied the sinking ship of the visitors as both played watchfully and cautiously, playing proper cricketing shots only if they were sure of the outcome. The duo added 43 more runs to the Indian total before Rahane perished in the twilight of the day’s play. Going for a boundary Rahane played the good length delivery hard, but the ball went straight to Head who was at point. India were reduced to 98 runs for the loss of five wickets.
Pant along with Vihari made sure that no more jolts halted the Indian innings before the end of day’s play as India managed 112 runs for the loss of 5 wickets at stumps on day 4. Vihari 24* and Pant 9* will resume the Indian innings tomorrow. For Australia, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood picked two wickets apiece.
India are bound to go down in this Test Match, but whether they will give any fight or not totally depends on the last recognized batting pair of Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari. With India still needing 175 more runs to win whereas the Aussies need just five more wickets, Australia are the firm favorites to win this Test Match.
What do you think? Will India come back strongly tomorrow and go for the win or will the Aussies dismantle India cheaply and level the series 1–1.