The second day’s play between India and Australia in the 3rd Test match at Melbourne saw Australia bagging the advantage after scoring a mammoth first innings total of 530. Aussie skipper Steve Smith rose to the occasion yet again as he became the first Australian to score two centuries in his first two matches as captain. India’s chances of putting up a fight in the face of the Australian total brightened to some extent after the ‘Monk’, Murali Vijay, led India’s batting with a fluent half century that saw India through to 108/1 at the end of the Day 2 in Melbourne.
Steve Smith steers Australian tail’s resilience
Australia’s batting scorecards in the first innings in all the three Tests played in the series so far appear to be remarkably similar – in all three cases, the hosts have surpassed the psychological barrier of 500, after having been reduced to 5 down within 300. The lower order resistance from Australia has cost India heavily in this series so far – and it was no different in Melbourne, today. Similar instances of India faltering against the opposition’s tail were starkly evident in the Wellington Test against NZ in February and against England in Old Trafford in July earlier this year.
Steve Smith was in the thick of things yet again, continuing from where he left yesterday. The captain found an able deputy in Brad Haddin, and together they stuck into the Indian bowling for the better part of the first session. The session run rate soared to more than five, as Smith made short work of the Indian bowlers en route to his century. Brad Haddin, also completed his half century before falling to Shami midway through the first session. Johnson too lent valuable support to Smith with a useful innings of 28. By lunch, the Australians had reached 389/7 with Ryan Harris and Smith at the crease.
Harris and Smith frustrate India further
Courtesy some ill directed bowling by the Indians in the second session , Ryan Harris and Steve Smith found it surprisingly easy to plunder quick runs and put India under pressure. Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav were wayward and bore the brunt of the Australian fury in the post-lunch session. Ravichandran Ashwin’s efforts to contain found hardly any traction as Smith came down hard on his benign off spin time and again. By the time Harris was dismissed for a well made 74, Australia had amassed 141 runs in session. Smith followed soon afterwards, for a score of 192, leaving India to deal with yet another 500+ total.
Hopes rest on Vijay and Pujara
It was once again up to the skillful and composed batting of Murali Vijay, India’s most consistent batsman in the 3 Tests so far, to steer the batting in the final session of play. A flawless half century kept India in the match after Shikhar Dhawan wasted a good start again, edging yet another delivery on the off stump to the slip cordon after scoring 28 runs. Cheteshwar Pujara’s handy knock, late in the day, took India past 100 and along with Vijay the pair will be key to keeping the visitor’s hopes alive.
Read about the first day’s play at Melbourne here.