Kohli, Rahane lift India to 172-3 at stumps vs Australia

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India's Cheteshwar Pujara ducks under a bouncer from Australia's Josh Hazlewood during play in the second cricket test between Australia and India in Perth, Australia, Saturday, Dec. 15. (AP Photo/Trevor Collens)
India’s Cheteshwar Pujara ducks under a bouncer from Australia’s Josh Hazlewood during play in the second cricket test between Australia and India in Perth, Australia, Saturday, Dec. 15. (AP Photo/Trevor Collens)

Perth, Australia (AP) — Skipper Virat Kohli led India’s fightback from 8-2 to 172-3 at stumps Saturday on the second day in reply to Australia’s 326 all out in the second cricket test.

With seven first-innings wickets left, India trail Australia by 154 runs at Perth Stadium.

Kohli, who ended the day on 82 not out, found a perfect ally in his deputy Ajinkya Rahane (51 not out) with the pair sharing an undefeated 90-run stand.

Kohli also put on 74 runs for the third wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara after the Australian pace attack had made early inroads.

Top-ranked Kohli hit four boundaries in the first nine balls he faced and forced swing bowler Josh Hazlewood out of the attack.

Kohli began by driving the second ball he faced for four off Hazlewood, and in the next over hit three more and made batting look easy on a surface that was producing some disconcerting bounce.

He later brought up his 20th half-century in his 75th test, following scores of 3 and 34 in the series opener in Adelaide. Kohli has so far hit nine fours in his innings.

Rahane continued from where he left off in his second-innings 70 in Adelaide, and began aggressively by hitting a series of boundaries and cutting Mitchell Starc over third man for six as he dominated the stand with Kohli.

Rahane reached his 50 off 92 balls, the 17th half-century in his 54th test appearance.

Australia’s new-ball pair of Starc and Hazlewood had wasted no time in claiming Indian wickets.

Starc bowled Murali Vijay (0) with a ball that swung late as India took lunch on 6-1. In the third over after the break, Lokesh Rahul (2) was beaten for pace by Hazlewood and was bowled.

Pujara, who scored 123 and 71 in India’s 31-run win in Adelaide, was subdued in his 2 1/2 hour innings and hit a solitary boundary before departing for 24.

He survived a leg-before review on 23 but soon after edged a catch down legside against Starc.

Starc took 2-42 and Hazlewood 1-50. Offspinner Nathan Lyon kept the run rate in check, conceding 34 runs in 22 overs.

Despite India’s strong showing on the second afternoon, Australian batsman Usman Khawaja felt his side had the advantage.

“We’ve done well to keep them in check,” Khawaja said. “We’re ahead of the game in a lot of respects. There is still enough on the pitch with widening cracks to get a reasonable lead.”