Australia vs India: Brilliant Rahane century puts India on top

Australia vs India: Brilliant Rahane century puts India on top

Rahane, captaining the team in the absence of Virat Kohli, who has returned home for the birth of his first child, hit 12 fours in his trying innings

Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane (104 not out, 200 balls, 12 fours) smacked a gutsy unbeaten century Sunday as India built a handy 82-run lead over Australia at stumps on day two of the second Test in Melbourne.

The 32-year-old came to the crease with his team in trouble early in the day after two wickets fell in quick succession, but rode his luck to notch a 12th Test ton in his 67th game.

Rahane, captaining the team in the absence of Virat Kohli, who has returned home for the birth of his first child, hit 12 fours in his trying innings.

He made the most of his fortune, enjoying a huge let-off on 73 when he was dropped at second slip by Steve Smith off a frustrated Mitchell Starc, bringing up his century with a four off Pat Cummins.

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It helped give India a 82-run lead over Australia, who were all out for 195 in their first innings.

When rain brought an early end to the day’s play, India were 277 for five in reply, with Ravindra Jadeja not out 40 (104 balls, 1 four).

India had resumed on 90 for three after lunch with Rahane and Hanuma Vihari looking to mow down Australia’s modest total.

The pair batted judiciously for a tense half-hour against the pace-and-spin combination of Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon before Rahane sent a shudder through the India camp by calling for a trainer.

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A physio worked on his lower back for several minutes before he retook the crease.

Vihari (21) managed only one more scoring shot, a deft late cut for four off Lyon, before he was dismissed the next ball with an ungainly sweep at the spinner.

Completely misjudging the flight of the delivery, Vihari had the ball ping off his glove behind the wicket where Steve Smith took the easiest of catches.

Recalled wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant (29) joined Rahane at the crease and rejuvenated the Indian innings, roughing up Pat Cummins with a pair of fours in one over and also working over Lyon.

Mitchell Starc was introduced and the rangy left-arm paceman struck in the second over of his spell to have Pant caught behind for 29.

A two-wicket burst by Cummins in the morning had earlier rallied Australia after India resumed the day on 36 for one.

Cummins denied debutant Shubman Gill (45) a half-century and also dismissed India’s number three Cheteshwar Pujara for 17 in a fiery five-ball burst midway through the session.

Cummins broke the pair’s 61-run partnership with a ball that teased Gill into a tentative push away from the body, sending a nick through to wicketkeeper and captain Tim Paine.

Cummins then coaxed a thick edge from Pujara, with Paine diving to his right to snaffle a brilliant one-handed catch.

Australia lead the four-Test series 1-0 after thrashing India by eight wickets within three days at the Adelaide Oval.


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