Nathan Lyon strikes after Cheteshwar Pujara, Rahul fifties in Dharamsala

Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon’s sensational four-wicket spell in the final session (4/67) negated India’s advantage after Cheteshwar Pujara and KL Rahul hit fifties on Day 2 of the fourth Test.

cricket Updated: Mar 26, 2017 20:23 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, Dharamsala
India vs Australia,Dharamsala Test,KL Rahul
Cheteshwar Pujara and KL Rahul walk back after the first session during day two of the fourth test match between India and Australia in Dharamsala.(BCCI)

KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara struck fifties but India surrendered the advantage with spinner Nathan Lyon grabbing all four wickets to fall in the final session to bring Australia roaring back on the second day of the final Test on Sunday. (DAY 2 BLOG)

Nathan Lyon’s sensational spell (4/67) negated the fifties of Rahul (60) and Pujara (57) as India stuttered to 248/6 at stumps in the first innings, still trailing Australia by 52 runs on a dry HPCA Stadium pitch sporting cracks with the series on the line. (DAY 2 SCORECARD)

Lyon used the drift and extra bounce to his advantage as he ran through India’s lower middle-order after India resumed on their tea score 153/2.

The Australian off-spinner started the procession in the very first over after tea, by having the in-form Pujara caught at short leg off bat-pad with a classical off-break that drifted in.

It was a vital wicket for Australia as Pujara, who broke an eight-year record for most runs in a Test season by an Indian batsman, was totally composed and looking good for another big score to follow up on his Ranchi Test 202.

Lyon, 29, Australia’s most successful off-spinner, then had Karun Nair (5) caught behind with a delivery that spun in sharply and bounced a bit more off the deck.

However, it was Lyon taking the key scalp of India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane (46) - skipper Steve Smith took a sharp catch at slip --- that give Australia the advantage. And things got even better for the visitors after Ravichandran Ashwin was trapped leg before for 30.

Lyon’s spell turned the tables on India, who were riding high on a superb 87-run stand for the second wicket between Pujara and KL Rahul.

Rahul, Pujara 50s after testing period

India were tested by a hostile spell of bowling from Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins in the morning session. While Hazlewood focused on hitting a particular area just around off- stump, Cummins focused on softening up the batsmen with pace and bouncers.

Murali Vijay (11) was removed Hazlewood with a delivery that moved away from outside off and took a faint outside edge. Pujara and Rahul buckled down to ensure India built a solid foundation.

Rahul survived a chance on 10 as he edged an away swinger from Cummins but Matt Renshaw at first slip dropped the catch to concede a four.

After lunch, Rahul accelerated and notched up his fifth fifty of the series but again failed to convert it into a big score as he bottom-edged trying to hook a short ball from Cummins to be caught by David Warner at mid-off for 60.

Ajinkya Rahane starts in streaky fashion

Rahane started in streaky fashion. He looked to be aggressive against Cummins but almost threw his wicket away twice. Australia got their act together and in the next 9.3 overs they gave away just 10 runs.

Pujara notched up his milestone with a boundary before he became Lyon’s first victim immediately after tea, ending his 49-run partnership with Rahane.

Ashwin and Rahane stitched another 49-run stand for the sixth wicket before Rahane fell at a crucial juncture.

With Australia going for the kill, Ravindra Jadeja launched Steve O’Keefe over long on and Lyon over deep mid wicket for sixes. Australia took the new ball in the 87th over and almost struck immediately when Cummins got Saha to edge on nine, only for Renshaw to drop his second catch at slip.

Jadeja survived a couple of leg before shouts in the last over bowled by Hazlewood but India survived. Thanks to Lyon’s spell, Australia are in a good position to take the lead on day 3.

First Published: Mar 26, 2017 12:04 IST