Nathan Lyon strikes after tea dented India’s reply as the hosts ended day two at 248/6, trailing by 52 runs in Dharamsala on Sunday.
Lyon dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair and R Ashwin. Lyon has taken 18 wickets till now in the current series equalling Ashwin’s tally of 18 wickets.
After losing opener Murali Vijay early, Pujara yet again proved a thorn for Australia’s as India’s top order made steady progress.
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KL Rahul and Pujara managed to hang on for long periods, meaning India lost only one wicket in each of the first two sessions.
Coming into this Test after his double-century in Ranchi, Pujara once again steadied into a longer innings.
However, he fell short this time and was caught by Handscomb on 57.
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India were comfortable placed at 108 for one before Rahul’s dismissal and could have pushed for lead but are struggling to level the scores at least.
After probing spells by the new ball bowlers Josh Hazlewood (1/40 in 18 overs) and Pat Cummins (1/59 off 20 overs), it was off-spinner Lyon (4/67 from 28 overs), who tormented the middle-order was once again in the final session of the day which belonged to Australia.
The final session in which India scored 95 runs saw them lose as many as four wickets all trying to be defensive against Lyon.
If India fought hard, credit to Ravichandran Ashwin (30 off 49 balls) and Ravindra Jadeja (16), who played their natural game knowing fully well that mere survival won t get them anywhere as the cracks on the pitch widened and the bounce remained true as ever.
It could have been worse had Wriddhiman Saha (10 batting) catch would have been taken by Matt Renshaw at first slip.
But if the Indian innings had a turning point, it was Rahul, who again raised visions of a big score before throwing his wicket.
Rahul looked comfortable during his knock of 60 his fifth half-century of the series – before a sudden rush of blood saw him play a pull shot off a Cummins short ball only to offer a simple skier to David Warner at cover.
Rahul hit nine fours and a slog-swept six off Steve O Keefe. The Rahul-Pujara duo added 87 runs for the second wicket to lend solidity to the Indian innings after Murali Vijay s (11) early departure.
With PTI inputs.