Sport Cricket Australia’s bats respond to the challenge of pacy Perth pitch
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Australia’s bats respond to the challenge of pacy Perth pitch

Travis Head cricket
Travis Head lets fly at Optus Stadium. Photo: Getty
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Day 1, 2nd Test, Perth.

Australia won the toss and elected to bat.

Aus  6-277

Paine -13     Cummins – 4    

Australia’s beleaguered batting line-up responded to the challenge of some fine Indian pace bowling on a lively Optus Stadium wicket that had all the hallmarks of a classic WACA track.

At stumps Australia left the field at 6-277.

With the pitch expected to continue to offer the quick bowlers plenty of encouragement, Tim Paine’s team is well placed after the first day’s play.

Half-centuries from Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, and Travis Head were crucial as Australia looks at a total in excess of 350.

It was the debut of Perth’s new stadium as a Test venue, with a crowd of just over 20,000 turning out on a blistering day with temperatures over 38 degrees.

Virat Kohli took the second new ball late on the first day of the second  Test, and it paid dividends as Travis Head was dismissed for an entertaining 58.

Head and Shaun Marsh (45) enjoyed a crucial 84-run partnership for the fifth wicket as Australia built a competitive total.

Shaun Marsh was gifted a life on 24 when Rishabh Pant couldn’t hang on to a sharp chance off the bowling of Hanuma Vishari.

Head’s enterprising innings included six boundaries as he swung hard at anything outside the off stump, trying to make the most of any opportunities against some hostile bowling on a volatile pitch.

Kohli was in the action, taking a spectacular catch off the bowling of Ishant Sharma right after the tea break to get rid of Peter Handscomb (7) as Australia lost its fourth wicket

Australia was cruising at 0-111 before the pitch started responding with erratic and lively bounce as India’s fast bowlers cranked up the pressure.

Usman Khawaja’s struggles with the bat have continued as he eked out a painful five runs from 38 balls, as India claimed his wicket cheaply again.

Marcus Harris brought up his first Test half-century as his partnership with Aaron Finch built a beachhead for a strong Australian total after India’s bowlers failed to make a breakthrough in the opening session.

Harris (70)  was on his way back to the pavilion after part-time spinner Vishari produced a ball that fizzed off the pitch to find the edge and be taken at slip.

Finch came into the Test match under pressure after a poor performance in Adelaide and he responded with a fighting 50.

Jasprit Bumrah was working hard on trapping Finch in front with an LBW decision and he finally broke through after lunch sending the Victorian on his way.

Australia took an unchanged line-up from the first Test loss into the Perth showdown.

India was forced to make two changes to the team that won in Adelaide with gun spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and hard-hitting batter Rohit Sharma both forced to make way.

Rohit jarred his back in the field during the first Test, while Ashwin is struggling with a left-side abdominal strain.

Spin-bowling allrounder Vishari (2-53) and speedster Umesh Yadav came into Kohli’s side.

This attack boasts four quality fast bowlers and a part-time tweaker. It’s only the third time in India’s long Test history it has gone into a Test match without a recognised spinner.

Tim Paine won the toss and backed his batsmen to cope with India’s pace battery who made the most of hard, bouncy Optus Stadium pitch that is expected to mirror the dynamism of the famous WACA wicket that made Test cricket in Perth compelling viewing for decades.

The Indians have voiced their displeasure at reports that Cricket Australia (CA) had instructed Optus Stadium curator Brett Sipthorpe to produce a fast, green-top pitch to assist Australia’s fast bowlers and unsettle the tourists.

CA vehemently denied Sipthorpe’s comments to The West Australian that the governing body had told him: “They want to see this place fly. That’s like an early Christmas present to me. To get that fear in the eyes of the opposition turning up and seeing it fly … beautiful,” Sipthorpe told the local paper.

It was an engaging contest between bat and ball early.

Finch enjoys the ball coming on to the bat which accommodates his instinctive batting, but Bumrah was equal to the task, beating Finch with a couple of outswingers.

Harris was patient taking 16 deliveries to get off the mark.

When Ishant Sharma over pitched successive deliveries outside off stump they were crisply dispatched to the long-off boundary.

Harris was away.

Mohammed Shami (0-63)  was brought into the attack on the hour mark and immediately put the Australians under pressure.

Shami struck Finch on the pad with his first two deliveries, both eliciting huge appeals for LBW.

Kohli unsuccessfully referred the first one to the Decision Review System (DRS) and was reluctant to burn a second referral so Finch survived.

Harris and Finch brought up only the second 50-run partnership of the series so far off 90 deliveries.

Bumrah (1-41) is developing into a world-class bowler and he fought back impressively.

His bowling in the middle session in the heat of the day displayed a work ethic and competitive instinct that makes him a danger every time he takes the ball.

Early wickets will be crucial for Kohli tomorrow as his batsmen will face an Australian fast bowling attack salivating at the prospect of letting loose on Perth’s latest fast bowling expressway.

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