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Australia builds on lead vs India in 2nd test

December 16, 2018
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India's Virat Kohli looks behind to watch Australia's Peter Handscomb take a catch to dismiss him during play in the second cricket test between Australia and India in Perth, Australia, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Trevor Collens)

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Australia spinner Nathan Lyon took 5-67 to overshadow India captain Virat Kohli scoring his sixth century in Australia on Sunday, leaving the second test evenly poised at stumps on day three.

With cracks widening and the ball keeping low, batting is becoming increasing challenging as Australia reached 132-4 in its second innings.

The deteriorating pitch left the home side battered and bruised as it extended its lead to 175 runs. Usman Khawaja and skipper Tim Paine will resume on 41 and 8, respectively, and looking to bat India out of the test match.

X-rays have cleared opening batsman Aaron Finch of any break in his right index finger when he was hit by a Mohammed Shami delivery before the tea break. He may bat again in the second innings if he is required.

But it was Lyon’s performance that drew praise from one of the game’s greats.

“It was amazing to get something like that from Sachin Tendulkar,” Lyon said after the former Indian batsman congratulated him via Twitter. “To be recognised by him is a great honor.

“I don’t think I am at the top of my game yet. I still got a lot of improvement and learning about offspin. I believe there’s a lot around the corner for me (if) I keep working hard and keep wanting to get better.”

Lyon is confident Australia has the bowling to defend any total on the deteriorating surface.

“I’d rather be in the Australian dressing room. We’re confident of taking another 10 wickets and win this game,” said Lyon. “It’s hard test cricket ahead of us over the next two days.”

Lyon bowled a marathon 34.5 overs and claimed his second consecutive five-wicket haul to help secure a 46-run lead for the hosts. Fast bowlers Mitchell Starc (2-79) and Josh Hazlewood (2-66) supported Lyon.

Lyon’s heroics raised his tally to 77 wickets in 16 matches (average 31.22) against the world’s top-ranked test side. Sri Lankan offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan is the only other spinner with more wickets against India — 105 in 22 tests (32.62).

Finch’s fellow opener Harris was also felled by a Jasprit Bumrah bouncer when he was hit on the front of the helmet. He required attention on the field by the team doctor and continued after changing his helmet. He scored 20 before being bowled by Bumrah.

Earlier, India captain Kohli scored an impressive 123 off 257 balls for his 20th century in his 75th test. His innings lasted just over six hours, included a six and 13 fours, and was the first test century at the new Perth Stadium.

Just when Kohli threatened to take command he fell adjudged caught by second slip Peter Handscomb off fast bowler Pat Cummins.

Handscomb claimed a low catch and third umpire Nigel Llong could not find sufficient video evidence to overturn the on-field umpire’s verdict that a clean catch had been taken, despite some angles showing the ball may have hit the turf before Handscomb’s fingers had wrapped around the ball.

After India had slumped from 223-4 to 254-8, Rishabh Pant hit a brisk 36 runs including a soaring six onto the second tier off Lyon to reduce the deficit.

On a pitch that continued to offer pace and bounce, Lyon bowled with guile and control in his 82nd test.

He began the day by removing the dangerous Ajinkya Rahane (51) to end the threatening 91-run fourth wicket stand with Kohli. Rahane failed to add to his overnight score and edged a catch to wicketkeeper Paine off the second ball he faced, the fourth of the day.

Lyon then went on to dismiss tailenders Shami, Ishant Sharma and Bumrah either side of the lunch break.

A flawless Kohli reached his century milestone off 214 balls in just over five hours when driving leftarm swing bowler Starc imperiously down the ground for his 11th four.

Kohli, 30, joined Sachin Tendulkar with six test centuries in Australia. While Tendulkar scored his in 29 innings over 16 tests, Kohli achieved it in 19 innings in 10 tests, further confirming his status as the top-ranked batsman in the world.

Only Englishmen Jack Hobbs (9) and Wally Hammond (7) have scored more centuries in Australia.

Kohli needed treatment on the field regularly after Starc peppered his forearm with short-pitch deliveries. Despite the painful blows, Kohli stood tall against the Australian pace attack.

Kohli and Hanuma Vihari (20) added 50 runs for the fifth wicket before Hazlewood accounted for Vihari caught behind with the second new ball.

Australia made 326 all out after winning the toss and batting first.

India leads the four-test series 1-0 following its 31-run win in the first test in Adelaide and is seeking its first ever series win in Australia.

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