A lot of attention was on the green track ahead of the second Test between Australia and India at the new Optus Stadium.
After winning the all-important toss and opting to bat first, Australia got off to a sedate start, as the openers Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris vindicated Tim Paine’s decision by seeing off the new ball and the first session without losing their wickets.
The track, which had seen more grass yesterday, was less green on match day and it appeared that the Indians had bought all the hype about the track, playing four seamers even though it looks that the cracks will open up for the spinners to make merry on the last two days. The visitors went ahead with Umesh Yadav over Bhuvneshwar Kumar – a baffling move indeed, because it now means that India will play with a long tail – with none of their quicks capable of hanging in the crease with the bat.
Also read: Indian memories at Perth
The duo of Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah looked unthreatening in the first session as they were unable to deter the duo of Finch and Harris, who stepped out with positive intent. They upped the ante after the lunch break, scoring runs in a flurry as Harris first and then Finch reached their respective half-centuries.
It was then that Bumrah displayed his magic. He trapped Finch with a fuller ball in his third spell and then troubled Usman Khawaja repeatedly. The left-armer just barely withstood a testing spell from Bumrah before falling to Umesh after edging a cut. Hanuma Vihari, who was Rohit Sharma’s replacement for the game was the part-time spinner and he too got into the game, surprising Harris with a ball that bounced from good length. From 112 for no loss, the Aussies slipped to 148 for 4 after Virat Kohli pulled off a blinder of a catch to send back Peter Handscomb.
Just when it seemed that India were inching ahead in the game, Shaun Marsh and Travis Head combined to pile on 84 runs. Even though the Indian pacers had found their groove, the Aussie duo nosed ahead but their ploy to attack backfired after Vihari dismissed Marsh while he was attempting to cut and then Ishant sent back Head as he looked to play away from his body. Pat Cummins and skipper Paine saw through till stumps, just about managing to survive the lethal spells that the Indian seamers conjured up in the last half hour of play.
Brief Scores: Australia 277/6 (Marcus Harris 70, Travis Head 58, Ishant Sharma 2-35, Hanuma Vihari 2-53)