Australian paceman Pat Cummins produced another masterful spell of fast bowling, but even his inspired performance couldn’t stop India making it 5-206 after returning from tea on day two of the Boxing Day Test.
The lanky speedster’s impact on the tide of the match was backed up by spin master Nathan Lyon, who soon after sent Hanuma Vihari packing for 21 after facing 66 balls.
Mitchell Starc also contributed – to both the Australian and visitors’ tallies.
While Stark claimed Rishabh Pant, caught behind, the new and bouncy MCG pitch sent a series of uncatchable deliveries scorching to the boundary.
India rode their luck early after resuming on Sunday at 1-36, with Australia burning a review, Tim Paine dropping a chance off debutant Shubman Gill and multiple edges just falling short of fielders at the MCG.
But as has become customary, Cummins stepped up when Australia needed him and took the vital wickets of Gill (45) and stoic No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara (17).
After putting down Gill in the second over of the day off the bowling of Josh Hazlewood, Paine made up for the missed opportunity by twice combining with Cummins.
The Australian captain’s catch to send Gill packing was regulation, but Paine’s brilliant effort to dismiss the resilient Pujara two overs later will be replayed for the rest of the summer.
Diving low to his right, Paine had to snare the ball in one glove as the thick edge would not have carried to Matthew Wade at first-slip.
— Shashank Satyam (@ShashankSatyam0) December 27, 2020
Cummins’ double strike took his wicket-tally to nine for the series after match figures of 7-69 at the Adelaide Oval.
The events of the session left the second Test of the Border-Gavaskar trophy battle evenly poised after Australia were out for 195 on day one.
Stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane (10 not out) and Hanuma Vihari (13 no) will return to the crease for the second session on Sunday with with wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, and allrounders Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin to come before the tail.
The tourists have responded in promising fashion after their record capitulation in Adelaide – even without master batsman Virat Kohli who returned home to be with his wife for the birth of the couple’s first child.
Mitchell Starc took Australia’s other wicket after trapping Mayank Agarwal lbw for a duck on Saturday evening to end the first over of India’s innings.