India will head to Melbourne with series levelled 1-1

Updated: Dec 18, 2018, 09:00 IST | Gaurav Joshi

That's how the Border-Gavaskar Trophy scoreline will read today unless Perth sees a miracle from Indian batsmen

Indian opener KL Rahul is bowled by Australian pacer Mitchell Starc on Day Four of the second Test in Perth. Pic/Getty Images
Indian opener KL Rahul is bowled by Australian pacer Mitchell Starc on Day Four of the second Test in Perth. Pic/Getty Images

The sight of Rishabh Pant charging down the wicket to smash Nathan Lyon into oblivion in the second last over of the day is difficult to digest. India were 111-5, chasing 287 target in the second Test and still a day to play.

Pant managed to survive until stumps, but India will need more than a few explosive blows from the wicketkeeper-batsman if they want to get anywhere close to the target.

For India to have a chance on a pitch that was already showing variable bounce on the third day, they needed to knock over the remaining six Australian wickets quickly on the fourth morning.

However, while the Indian seamers bowled exceptional well and continued to beat the edge of the bat on numerous occasions, skipper Tim Paine (37) and Usman Khawaja (72) were resilient as they pushed the lead past the 200-run mark.

Luck eventually changed for Mohammed Shami as he had Paine caught in the slips trying to fend a ball that rose alarmingly off a length. Virat Kohli was ecstatic, but at the same time, he would have understood the nature of the challenge his team would have to encounter. The wicket seemed to breathe fire into Shami as he sliced through the Australian lower order to finish with career-best figures of 24-8-56-6 as Australia were bowled for 243.

Fourth innings chases are always difficult especially with two out of form openers and a long tail. Such is the indecisiveness in KL Rahul's game that he continues to hang his bat outside the off-stump, hoping the ball to hit the middle of his willow or misses the edge. Rahul could only last four deliveries before he dragged on to his stumps without scoring. Murali Vijay looked more certain, but concentration keeps eluding him. Yesterday, he attempted an audacious drive out of the rough to be knocked over by Lyon for 20.

But it was the wicket of Kohli for 17 that sent the crowd and Lyon into raptures. The off-spinner had the Indian skipper caught at slip with a ball that went straight on. It was the seventh time Lyon had claimed Kohli in Tests, the most by any bowler. To compound the misery, Ajinkya Rahane fell at the stroke of stumps, attempting a square drive for 24 as India slumped to 98-5. Barring a miracle, it seems like India will head to Melbourne with series levelled 1-1.

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