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Australia on course for series levelling win after Indian batsmen stutter

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AUS/IND 2nd Test Day 4

Perth, Dec 17 :  Australia were on course for a series-levelling win in the second Test after another below-par batting performance from India undid the good work done by their bowlers on day four here on Monday.

Chasing 287 on a testing surface, India were 112 for five at stumps with skipper Virat Kohli’s (17) dismissal in the 20th over of the second innings dealing a massive blow to the away team’s hopes.

The last specialist pair of Hanuma Vihari (24) and Rishabh Pant (9) were in the middle when stumps were drawn and they will have to bat well in the first session on day five for India to have any chance of scoring the remaining 175 runs.

The ordinary batting effort came after a sensational performance from pacer Mohammad Shami, who took a career best six for 56 in Australia’s second innings to bring India back into the contest.

Shami removed the set Usman Khawaja (72) and Tim Paine (37) to trigger a batting collapse that saw Australia being all out for 243 after the duo batted out the entire morning session.

At tea, India were reeling at 15 for two and following the break it got worse for the visitors as they lost wickets in a bunch. Murali Vijay (20) and Virat Kohli (17) added 35 runs for the third wicket before things went into a downward spiral.

Kohli was the first to go, with Lyon inducing him forward and the batsman edged it to slip as the Australian players broke into celebration.

Two overs later, Lyon (2-30) got an off break to jump off the rough and Vijay was bowled going for a drive as India were reduced to 55-4.

Ajinkya Rahane (30) came out playing his shots and took on the bowling with two fours as well as a six. He put on 43 runs for the fifth wicket with Vihari as India started thinking of at least taking the fight into day five.

But it was not to be, as Rahane hit a drive straight to point off Josh Hazlewood (2-24) and India plunged to 98-5.

Before tea, KL Rahul (0) played another indecisive stroke and was bowled off Starc on the fourth ball of the second innings. The bigger moment came when Hazlewood had Cheteshwar Pujara (4) caught behind off a faint edge in the fourth over to leave India leaning on Kohli once again.

This was after a fiery spell from Shami brought India back into the game. With his stellar effort, Shami surpassed Anil Kumble’s record of most wickets taken by an Indian bowler in away Tests during a calendar year. Shami has taken 42 wickets to Kumble’s 41.

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