New Delhi, Mar 23: For the first time in the series, Indian batsmen were made to work hard for the runs. Offspinner Nathan Lyon troubled the Indians with a five-wicket haul but the hosts battled their way to take a slender four-run lead with two wickets standing by stumps on the the second day of the fourth Test.
India ended an interesting day of Test cricket at 266/8 in 68.1 overs. Lyon got his fifth wicket on the last ball of the day when he trapped R Ashwin LBW.
After a century opening stand between Murali Vijay, who completed 1,000 runs in Tests, and Cheteshwar Pujara, Indian batsmen fell to the spin of Lyon. There was pressure not only by Lyon but at the other end too with the fast bowlers bowling well. The pacemen tested Indian batsmen with lot of bouncers.
It was all going smooth for India till the tea break. However, in the final session, India lost six wickets for 131 runs. Vijay, debutant Ajinkya Rahane, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin were the batsmen dismissed in the final two and half hours of the day.
The 25-year-old Lyon, who had a tough time in the opening Test in Chennai, bowled exceptionally well on a pitch assisting slow bowlers. He bowled unchanged for 22 overs and was rewarded. His final bowling figures of the day read 22.1-3-94-5. He returned for his second spell on the last over of the day and struck with the first delivery. This was Lyon's third five-wicket haul in 22nd Test.
Lyon had Tendulkar in trouble. He should have had the Master Blaster on 1 but got him 31 runs later with umpire Richard Kettleborough making up for his earlier LBW blunder.
Rahane was welcomed to the Test world by a huge appeal for LBW and a knock on the helmet, in the company of Tendulkar. The Mumbai youngster looked nervous in the middle and departed for seven.
Captain Dhoni made a brisk 24 before offering an easy catch to his counterpart Shane Watson at mid-wicket. Jadeja and Ashwin had a crucial partnership of 44 for seventh wicket and took the team close to Australian total. Glenn Maxwell struck in his first over to remove Jadeja for 43.
Amid all the action between bat and ball, there were few heated exchanges between the players. Australian fielders and bowlers were charged up and had few words to say to the batsmen.
At close of play, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was unbeaten on 10. A lead of 50 for India could make life difficult for Australia. We are in for three days of exciting cricket. However, the match might not go the full distance. Tomorrow's play will indicate who is ahead.
At tea, India 135/2
Lyon checked India's progress with two strikes in the second session. Lyon was impressive in his bowling and slowed down India's scoring which was very good before lunch. At the tea break, India were 135/2 in 38 overs.
Pujara completed his second Test half century but soon departed as his defence as breached by Lyon. A ball that did not turn enough, went past Pujara's bat and hit the top of offstump.
In the middle of an excellent spell, Lyon trapped Virat Kohli LBW for 1. It should have been three for Lyon but umpire erred.
Tendulkar was lucky to be given not out on 1 when he was plumb LBW against Lyon. Umpire Richard Kettleborough was unmoved by a strong appeal from the Australians. Lyon kept troubling Tendulkar and there were few more appeals for LBW but the Master Blaster battled it out and stayed not out on 12 at tea time.
Left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson complemented Lyon well. He too bowled a probing spell. Johnson could have had Vijay's wicket but Matthew Wade failed to take a low catch and bounced in front of him before landing in his gloves. Third umpire was called in to check on this catch and replays showed it was not a clean catch by Wade. Vijay is 54 not out at the break.
At lunch, India 59/0
Indian openers Vijay and Pujara made a brisk start as they took the team to 59/0 at lunch.
After bowling the visitors out for 262, Vijay and Pujara played shots early on to raise 50 for the first wicket in just 9.2 overs. However, Australia bowlers came back strongly to stem the flow of runs. From overs 11 to 14 till lunch, the run rate slowed down. At the break Pujara was on 28 and Vijay 23.
Australia 262 all out
R Ashwin took his 9th five-wicket haul in 16th Test as India began the second day by removing Peter Siddle early. The visitors were bowled out for 262.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha took his 100th Test wicket in 22nd Test as Australia were bowled out for 262 in 112.1 overs. Ojha had to wait for 26.1 overs for his wicket as he removed last man James Pattinson caught by Virat Kohli at slip.
Ojha is joint third fastest to claim 100 Test wickets. Subhash Gupte and BS Chandrasekhar too took same number of matches to reach the milestone. Quickest Indian to 100-club is EAS Prasanna in 20 Tests while next best was Anil Kumble (21 Tests).
Ashwin struck in the fifth over of the day on Saturday. Siddle was bowled by the offspinner for 51, the first half century of Australian innings.
Australia had started the day at 231/8.