AUS vs IND 4th Test: Pujara, Rahane hold key to India’s revival as visitors end on 62/2 on rain-hit Day 2

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India ended on 62/2 after bowling out Australia on 369 on a rain-hit Day 2. 

Rohit Sharma‘s indiscreet shot selection pegged India back after rookie bowling attack restricted Australia to 369 on a rain-curtailed second day of the fourth Test on Saturday.

With heavy thundershowers preventing any play in the post tea session, India ended the day at 62 for two.

Rohit was elegant as ever in his 44 off 74 balls before Nathan Lyon in his 100th Test enticed him to come down the track but the half-chip-half-loft was safely pouched by Mitchell Starc in the deep.

India also lost Shubman Gill (7) who edged one off Pat Cummins to Steve Smith. Cheteshwar Pujara (8) and Ajinkya Rahane (2) added only two runs in the 6.1 overs before the break.

There were six boundaries from Rohit but he did not fiddle at deliveries in and around the off-stump channel even as Cummins and Josh Hazlewood bowled a testing spell under overcast conditions.

The shot of the session was an on-drive off Cummins which came after a streaky boundary through the slips in the same over. Another delightful stroke was an off-drive off Cameron Green as 49 runs were added for the second wicket.

There wasn’t much swing on offer but the pace off the track has increased compared to the first day and it only helped that the Australian pace attack is a more well built one with average speed being at least 6-7 kmph more than their Indian counterparts.

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Pujara, at the other end was playing his usual ‘grinding out’ game but it didn’t look too arduous till Rohit kept the scoreboard ticking at the other end.

It wouldn’t be an over statement to say that among all top order batsman across both sides, Rohit looked the most comfortable and till his dismissal never looked like being troubled by the four-pronged attack.

However as has been his wont in SENA countries, Rohit just before the tea break went after Lyon when the situation demanded that he could have played for session-end.

It was very similar to his dismissal off Moeen Ali at the stroke of tea during the 2014 series and that was also after being set in the middle-order.

India, who have been forced to field a depleted side won’t mind an inclement weather which effectively makes the home team more jittery as a draw would be enough for Ajinkya Rahane to lift the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

In the first session, India’s rookie bowling line-up did put up a lion-hearted effort, getting the last five wickets for 95 runs.

Shardul Thakur (3/94) along with debutants Washington Sundar (3/89) and Thangarasu Natarajan (3/78) got the breakthroughs while Mohammed Siraj (28-10-77-1) got one on the opening day.

For an attack as thin on experience as India, the effort in adverse times can only be commended. India lost five main bowlers through the three Test matches and were forced to hand Test debuts to Natarajan and Washington.

Nathan Lyon (24 off 22 balls) and Mitchell Starc (20 off 35 balls) counter-attacked the inexperienced Indian attack with a brisk 39-run partnership to take Australia past 350-run mark.

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Going by statistics, Australia have never lost a Test match at the Gabba after scoring 350 in the first innings.

Resuming at 274 for five, Tim Paine (50) and Cameron Green (47) extended their stand to 98 before the home team encountered a mini-collapse.

Thakur bowled a fuller delivery that shaped away and Paine’s lazy drive without going to the pitch of the delivery saw Rohit Sharma take a regulation catch at the second slip.

Paine was just getting into the groove with some good drives when Thakur provided the breakthrough.

With the partnership broken, Green probably lost his concentration as he played for the turn to an angle delivery from Sundar which straightened after pitching and breached through his defences.

Pat Cummins (2) was adjudged leg before as he yorked himself to a fuller delivery from Thakur as Australia slumped from 311 for five to 315 for eight before the tail wagged once again to beef up the total.

Brief Scores:

Australia 1st innings: 369 all out 115.2 overs (M Labuschagne 108; T Paine 50, M Wade 45; T Natarajan 3/78, S Thakur 3/94, W Sundar 3/89).India 1st innings: 62 for 2 in 26 overs. (R Sharma 44, C Pujara batting 8; P Cummins 1/22).

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