PERTH: Australia are poised for their first Test match win since the ball-tampering scandal after spinner Nathan Lyon claimed the prized wicket of Indian captain Virat Kohli in the second Test in Perth on Monday.
Set 287 to win on an unpredictable pitch, India were reduced to 112 for five at stumps on the fourth day after paceman Mohammed Shami had lifted their hopes with a career-best bowling effort.
Hanuma Vihari was 24 not out and Rishabh Pant was on nine.
The visitors still need 175 to win with just five wickets in hand as Australia seek to level the four-Test series and claim their first Test win since beating South Africa at St George’s Park in March.
It was during the following Test at Newlands that Cameron Bancroft was caught using sandpaper to alter the ball.
The scandal led to lengthy suspensions from Cricket Australia for Bancroft, captain Steve Smith and opener David Warner.
Australian paceman Josh Hazlewood said the home team was excited by the chance of an overdue victory on the fifth day.
“It has been a bit of a long time between wins,” he said. “We’re pretty excited to come back tomorrow (Tuesday]. There is still a bit of work to be done, there is obviously enough there in the wicket and we just have to hit the right areas.”
India lead 1-0 after victory in Adelaide, but have never won a Test series in Australia. The loss of Kohli appeared a fatal blow to their chances of a famous win.
Lyon dismissed Kohli for the seventh time in Test cricket, two more than any other bowler, when he had him caught at slip by Usman Khawaja for 17.
Kohli was unable to repeat the heroics of his first innings century, the ball catching the outside edge as he probed forward defensively.
His departure was the cause of great delight for Australian captain Tim Paine, after the pair had exchanged words at the conclusion of the third day.
The Australian wicket-keeper, looking for his first win as skipper in five Tests since taking over from the disgraced Steve Smith, celebrated the dismissal with a cheeky comment to not out batsman Murali Vijay.
“Murali, I know he’s your captain, but you can’t seriously like him as a bloke,” Paine said, in comments picked up by microphone.
Just two overs later Vijay was also on his way back to the pavilion, bowled off an inside edge by Lyon, who took two for 30.
The pair of wickets continued a fine match for Lyon, who picked up five in the Indian first innings to move into the top 25 all-time Test wicket-takers, currently on 333.
After Australia lost their last six wickets for 51 runs to be dismissed for 243, with Shami claiming 6-56, India made a disastrous start to their run chase just before tea.
Opener K.L. Rahul didn’t survive long, falling to the fourth ball of the innings from Mitchell Starc for a duck.
Rahul attempted to pull the bat away and only succeeded in getting an inside edge onto his stumps.
Cheteshwar Pujara then feathered a short delivery from Josh Hazlewood on four, as India slumped to 13 for two.
Across the two teams, eight wickets fell for 68 runs between lunch and tea, as batting appeared to become very difficult due to variable bounce.
Australian number eight Pat Cummins was the chief victim of the pitch gremlins after lunch, when he was clean bowled for one by a Jasprit Bumrah delivery that kept very low off the wicket.
The home team had resumed at 190 for four after lunch, but Shami cleaned up the tail, removing Khawaja for 72 and Paine, on 37, with sharply rising deliveries.
AUSTRALIA (1st Innings) 326 (M.S. Harris 70, T.M. Head 58, S.E. Marsh 45; I. Sharma 4-41).
INDIA (1st Innings) 283 (V. Kohli 123, A.M. Rahane 51; N.M. Lyon 5-67).
AUSTRALIA (2nd Innings, overnight 132-4):
M.S. Harris b Bumrah 20
A.J. Finch c Pant b Shami 25
U.T. Khawaja c Pant b Shami 72
S.E. Marsh c Pant b Shami 5
P.S.P. Handscomb lbw b Sharma 13
T.M. Head c Sharma b Shami 19
T.D. Paine c Kohli b Shami 37
P.J. Cummins b Bumrah 1
M.A. Starc b Bumrah 14
N.M. Lyon c Vihari b Shami 5
J.R. Hazlewood not out 17
EXTRAS (B-8, LB-3, W-4) 15
TOTAL (all out, 93.2 overs) 243
FALL OF WKTS: 1-59, 2-64, 3-85, 4-120, 5-192, 6-192, 7-198, 8-198, 9-207. NOTE: Finch retired hurt at 33-0 and resumed at 192-5.
BOWLING: Sharma 16-1-45-1; Bumrah 25.2-10-39-3; Mohammed Shami 24-8-56-6 (2w); Yadav 14-0-61-0 (2w); Vihari 14-4-31-0. INDIA (2nd Innings): K.L. Rahul b Starc 0
M. Vijay b Lyon 20
C.A. Pujara c Paine b Hazlewood 4
V. Kohli c Khawaja b Lyon 17
A.M. Rahane c Head b Hazlewood 30
G.H. Vihari not out 24
R.R. Pant not out 9
EXTRAS (B-6, W-2) 8
TOTAL (for five wkts, 41 overs) 112
FALL OF WKTS: 1-0, 2-13, 3-48, 4-55, 5-98. BOWLING (to-date): Starc 10-2-28-1 (1w); Hazlewood 11-3-24-2; Cummins 8-0-24-0 (1w); Lyon 12-2-30-2.
Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2018