Australia scrap hard at Kotlal

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon takes five wickets to restrict India to 266/8 at close on day two
Last Updated 23 March 2013, 19:33 IST

The ripping off-breaks of Nathan Lyon and a dusty, spiteful pitch combined to produce some intense action on the second day of the fourth Test on Saturday, and for once in this series, Indian batsmen were at the receiving end as Australia discovered a minor foothold.

In the morning session, India managed to dismiss Australia -- overnight for 231 for eight -- for 262 and the highlight of the session from an Indian perspective was Pragyan Ojha completing his 100th Test wicket. The left-arm spinner, playing in his 22nd Test, jettisoned James Pattinson to reach the coveted mark. And things, indeed, looked going their way when Cheteshwar Pujara (57) and Murali Vijay (52) gave them a blistering start, and their end of the day total -- 266 for eight for a slender four-run lead -- was quite unimaginable at that stage.

First to the partnership between Pujara, who was sent in as an opener after the team management decided to use debutant Ajinkya Rahane in the middle-order, and Vijay. Australia’s three-pronged pace battery – Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Pattinson— provided no real trouble to the Indian duo. That was till Lyon was invited to bowl by stand-in skipper Shane Watson. Brought in after lunch, Lyon  scythed through the Indian batting in ideal conditions, bowling a 21-over uninterrupted spell. His 5-94  has put India in a spot of bother.

Sensing the fast deterioration of the pitch, Vijay and Pujara scored rapidly to raise the first 50 off 56 balls. Pujara, looking in fine fettle, hit some rasping drives. His punch off Pattinson to the cover stood out. Vijay curbed his attacking instincts to adapt to the situation. The two forged a century partnership and India looked well set for a huge lead.

But Lyon struck in quick succession to halt India’s rampant march. He lured Pujara forward but the ball beat the bat to hit the off-stump. Three deliveries later, he trapped Virat Kohli leg before. Kolhi’s departure, marked by verbal exchanges with the Australian fielders, heralded Sachin Tendulkar’s arrival But his stay turned out to be shaky. Siddle and Pattinson were quick to test him with short balls but it was Lyon who made life difficult for Tendulkar. 

Off his first ball, Lyon appealed for lbw when Tendulkar missed the line while attempting a sweep. English umpire Richard Kettleborough, though, ruled him not out. But Lyon was on fire and pushed Tendulkar to the defensive. The Australian, who had bowled Tendulkar in the Chennai Test, kept up the pressure on him when India took tea at 135/2.

A flick and punch off Siddle for two consecutive boundaries in the opening over post-tea brought some reprieve for him. But Siddle got Vijay shortly when his length ball soared on after hitting the crack and hit the gloves of Vijay to be caught by wicket-keeper Matthew Wade.

Debutant Ajinkya Rahane’s 19-ball stay was made difficult by the sledging Australians. Mahendra Siingh Dhoni, who came in next, lost his partner when Lyon finally reined in Tendulkar for 32. Tendulkar played back and was caught plumb in front.

As Australians’ sledging increased, Dhoni was forced to intervene. The Indian skipper, though, fell soon when he pulled Pattinson to Watson at mid-wicket. Jadeja ensured India erased the lead before being accounted by Glen Maxwell in his second ball. 

Score board

AUSTRALIA (I Innings, O/n: 231/8):

Siddle b Ashwin    51
(170m, 136b, 4x4)
Pattinson c Kohli b Ojha    30
(112m, 91b, 3x4)
Lyon (not out)    8
(28m, 40b)
Extras (B-5, LB-7)    12
Total (all out, 111.1 overs)    262
Fall of wickets: 1-4 (Warner), 2-71 (Hughes), 3-106 (Cowan), 4-115 (Watson), 5-117 (Wade), 6-129 (Maxwell), 7-136 (Johnson), 8-189 (Smith), 9-243(Siddle).
Bowling: Bhuvneshwar 9-1-43-0, Ishant 14-3-35-2, Ashwin 34-18-57-5, Ojha 26.1-6-75-1, Jadeja 28-8-40-2.

INDIA (I Innings)

Vijay c Wade b Siddle    57
(203m, 123b, 7x4)
Pujara b Lyon    52
(126m, 76b, 5x4)
Kohli lbw Lyon    1
(11m, 8b)
Tendulkar lbw Lyon    32
(100m, 53b, 5x4)
Rahane c Smith b Lyon    7
(21m, 19b, 1x4)
Dhoni c Watson b Pattinson    24
(41m, 23b)
Ashwin lbw Lyon    12
(69m, 41b, 1x4)
Jadeja lbw Maxwell    43
(75m, 50b)
Bhuvneshwar (batting)     10
(21m, 17b, 1x4)
Extras (B-12, LB-16)    28
Total (for 8 wkts, 68.1 overs)    266
Fall of wickets: 1-108 (Pujara), 2-114 (Virat), 3-148 (Vijay), 4-148 (Rahane), 5-180 (Sachin), 6-210 (Dhoni), 7-254 (Jadeja), 8-266 (Ashwin).
Bowling: Johnson 17-3-44-0, Pattinson 14-1-54-1, Siddle 12-3-38-1, Lyon 22.1-3-94-5, Maxwell 3-0-8-1.

(Published 23 March 2013, 06:44 IST)

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