Australia, India share 1st-day honors at new test venue
PERTH, Australia (AP) — Australia and India shared the honors on Friday on the first day of the second cricket test at Perth Stadium, the newest venue in test cricket.
The green-top pitch made it a back-and-forth contest between bat and ball after the home side lost its way following a 112-run opening stand between Marcus Harris (70) and Aaron Finch (50).
Skipper Tim Paine, 16 not out, and Pat Cummins, 11 not out, lifted Australia to 277-6 at stumps in 90 overs after coming together at 251-6.
Four wickets fells in the afternoon, and only a 84-run stand between Shaun Marsh (45) and Travis Head (58) saved Australia from another batting collapse after it had won the toss and decided to bat.
India, forced to play four fast bowlers after offpsinner Ravichandran Ashwin was not able to play due to a pre-match injury, overcame 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) heat to check Australia progress with regular wickets.
Swing bowler Ishant Sharma took 2-35 before leaving the field with a suspected side strain after just two overs with the second new ball.
In the absence of Ashwin, Hanuma Vihari, in the side as a batsman having replaced an injured Rohit Sharma, took 2-53 with his off-spin.
Head, who scored 72 runs in Australia's first innings in its 31-run first-test loss in Adelaide earlier this week, once again batted with a new-found confidence before throwing his wicket away. Head slashed at a Sharma delivery and Mohammed Shami at third man took an easy catch.
The Australian slide started when Finch was trapped lbw by swing bowler Jasprit Bumrah following his second half century in four test appearances.
Usman Khawaja (5) top-edged a cut to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant off swing bowler Umesh Yadav.
Harris' innings ended when he edged Vihari and Ajinkya Rahane took the catch as it bounced off Pant's shoulder. Harris hit 10 fours in his 141-ball innings, playing only his second test since his debut in the series opener in Adelaide.
Vihari had Marsh caught in the slip by Rahane to break the Australian resistance, as Marsh and Head steered the side to a big total.
Earlier, skipper Virat Kohli took a brilliant catch to remove the dangerous Peter Handscomb for seven. Kohli, who had just moved to second slip, flung to his right and grabbed the ball as it flew past him.
"It was a screamer of a catch," said Vihari. "It was a crucial catch. We bowled with a lot of discipline, and we're happy with the way we managed to restrict them."
Finch said the new pitch was challenging as Australia negotiated variable bounce throughout the day.
"It will be an absolute grind for both sides as the game progresses," Finch said. "They controlled the game really well with good bowling and field placing."
The No. 1-ranked India has never won a test series in Australia.
After 48 years and 44 tests, test cricket shifted from the WACA ground to the nearby Perth Stadium, making it Australia's 10th test cricket venue.