India recovered from a poor start to reduce Australia to 277 for six on the opening day of the second Test in Perth but the hosts still walked out with advantage considering the bowler-friendly conditions on Friday. A 112-run opening stand between Marcus Harris (70) and Aaron Finch (50) vindicated their decision to bat on green top before Indian bowlers made a decent recovery by taking three wickets each in the last two sessions. With the pitch offering better assistance from the post-lunch session and the Indian bowlers managing to rectify their line and length, the visitors made inroads into the Australian batting line-up. Skipper Tim Paine (16 not out) and Pat Cummins (11 not out) were at stumps after enduring a testing spell from Jasprit Bumrah.
Pacer Ishant Sharma (2/35) and spinner Hanuma Vihari (2/53) took two wickets apiece while Bumrah (1/41) and Umesh Yadav (1/68) accounted for one batsman each. Following a good start, Shaun Marsh (45) and Peter Handscomb (7) looked to extend their fourth-wicket partnership but could only manage to add three runs as Ishant broke through early in the final session.
Handscomb looked to cut away too close to his body, and Virat Kohli held a stunning one-handed catch at second slip to dismiss him in the second over after tea.
Marsh and Travis Head (58) then added 84 runs for the fifth wicket, and in doing so took Australia past 200 in the 69th over. India could have broken through early, but Rishabh Pant put down a regulation catch from Marsh (on 24) off Vihari in the 67th over.
India were looking in bother again when Marsh fell against the run of play, trying to cut Vihari and edging to first slip where Ajinkya Rahane made no mistake.
Head reached his third Test half-century off 70 balls but threw it all away as he square-cut a wide delivery off Ishant six overs later and was caught at wide third man.
Earlier, India struck thrice post lunch as Australia were reduced to 145-3 at tea.
Jasprit Bumrah (1/41) and Umesh Yadav (1/68) struck during a tight spell in the second hour of play after lunch, as Australia lost three wickets for 22 runs.
Post lunch, Marcus Harris had brought up his maiden Test half-century off 90 balls as he took his opening stand with Aaron Finch (50) to 112.
Their 100-stand had come up in the 34th over, with India leaking another 48 runs in the hour’s play after the break. Mohammed Shami (0-63) conceded 23 runs in his four-over second-spell after lunch.
Finch too reached his second Test half-century off 103 balls as Australia reached a position of strength. But things turned thereafter as Bumrah struck first up in the 36th over, trapping Finch lbw with a fuller delivery.
KL Rahul dropped Harris (on 60) off Shami in the 45th over, with the fielder failing to time his jump at second slip. It didn’t cost India too much though as four overs later, he hit a surprise bouncer from Vihari straight at Rahane at slip. In between, Yadav used the pressure built and etched out Usman Khawaja’s (5) wicket, out caught behind in the 46th over as India gained the fruits of their hard work in this second hour of play.
In the morning session, Australia defied a green-top wicket and made steady progress to reach 66-0 at lunch.
The Perth wicket at the Optus Stadium was talked up a raging green-top wicket, but the Australian openers defied all that speculation. For their part, Indian pacers chipped in with all possible help and bowled a poor first spell with the new ball.
Ishant started with a delivery down leg as the first Test ball to be bowled at this ground. It didn’t change much for this first spell of four overs as he sprayed the ball all over. He seemed to be more concerned about not bowling any no balls, than maintaining an attacking line first up.
At the other end, Bumrah was bowling short of a length, even if he bowled quicker than Ishant. This new ball pairing proved expensive and wasteful as Yadav came on as first change in the ninth over.
Shami was India’s best bowler of the first session as he bowled with immaculate control from the very beginning. He came on to bowl in the 12th over and immediately troubled the batsmen.
Finch survived an lbw shout on account of height as India wasted a DRS review. They had another loud shout turned down on the very next ball, but this time no review was taken.
India bowled better in the second hour of play and conceded only 19 runs in 13 overs. But the damage had already been done as the duo were set and the new ball had been wasted on a fresh pitch.