Perth: Captain Virat Kohli led an Indian fightback on day two of the second Test against Australia at Perth on Saturday.
At stumps, the visitors had overcome a terrible start and were 172 for three, still trailing the Australian first innings total of 326 by 154 runs with seven wickets in hand.
The imperious Kohli was unbeaten on 82 and shaping as the major stumbling block for Australia, with Ajinkya Rahane also in fine touch on 51, the pair having added 90 for the third wicket.
Up 1-0 in the four-Test series, India made a terrible start to their first innings after cleaning up the Australian tail in the morning session.
With the last ball before lunch, left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc found a gap between opener Murali Vijay’s bat and pad to send his stumps flying for a 12-ball duck.
Shortly after play resumed both openers were gone, with Josh Hazlewood getting through KL Rahul’s defences to bowl him for two with India slumping to eight for two on what appeared a tricky pitch on the first day.
However, Kohli looked comfortable from the moment he strode to the crease, a crisp on-drive from the second ball he faced from Hazlewood racing to the boundary.
His only real moment of concern came on 22, when he left a delivery from spinner Nathan Lyon and the ball just bounced over the bails.
Kohli faced 181 balls and hit nine fours, with a 25th Test century firmly in his sights on a wicket showing few of the devils of the first day.
Rahane hit six fours in 103 and had the honour of hitting the first Test match six at the new venue.
The stubborn Pujara offered strong support for Kohli initially, although he was fortunate to survive an early edge from the bowling of Hazlewood.
Australia (1st innings): M. Harris c Rahane b Vihari 70, A. Finch lbw Bumrah 50, U. Khawaja c Pant b Yadav 5, S. Marsh c Rahane b Vihari 45, P. Handscomb c Kohli b Sharma 7, T. Head c Shami b Sharma 58, T. Paine lbw Bumrah 38, P. Cummins b Yadav 19, M. Starc c Pant b Sharma 6, N. Lyon (not out) 9, J. Hazlewood c Pant b Sharma 0. Extras (b4, lb7, nb1, w7) 19. Total (in 108.3 overs) 326.
FoW: 1-112, 2-130, 3-134, 4-148, 5-232, 6-251, 7-310, 8-310, 9-326.
Bowling: Sharma 20.3-7-41-4, Bumrah 26-8-53-2, Umesh 23-3-78-2, Shami 24-3-80-0, Vihari 14-1-53-2, Vijay 1-0-10-0.
India (1st innings): K.L Rahul b Hazlewood 2, M Vijay b Starc 0. C Pujara c Paine b Starc 24, V Kohli (batting) 82, A. Rahane (batting) 51. Extras (lb6, nb2, w5) 13. Total (for three wickets in 69 overs) 172
FoW: 1-6 , 2-8, 3-82.
Bowling: Starc 14-4-42-2, Hazlewood 16-7-50-1, Cummins 17-3-40-0, Lyon 22-4-34-0.