Axar leads India fightback after Lyon's haul lifts Australia

By Sports Desk February 18, 2023

Axar Patel dug India out of trouble with the bat to keep the second Test against Australia finely balanced after two days.

The spinner followed up his 84 from India's innings victory in the first match of the series, this time making 74 in a rearguard action as the hosts fought back from 139-7 to post 262 all out.

That meant Australia held a one-run first-innings lead, with Nathan Lyon taking 5-67, and the tourists reached 61-1 at the close batting for a second time at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi.

India began the day on 21-0 but soon began to unravel. KL Rahul (17), captain Rohit Sharma (32) and Cheteshwar Pujara (0) departed in the space of three overs, with India sliding from 46-0 to 54-3 as Lyon gobbled up each wicket, bowling Rohit and getting two lbw verdicts.

Shreyas Iyer (4) soon followed, and although Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja added 59 for the fifth wicket, when the latter was dismissed lbw for 26 by Todd Murphy it heralded another collapse. Kohli became the fourth lbw victim of the innings when he fell to Matthew Kuhnemann for 44, and Srikar Bharat (6) did not hang about, leaving Axar and Ravichandran Ashwin with the task of salvaging something.

They proved up to the job, adding 114 for the fourth wicket before Ashwin (37) fell to Pat Cummins with the new ball, a loose delivery down the leg side flicked to Matt Renshaw at square leg. Axar was then caught brilliantly by Cummins off Murphy, ending hopes of a maiden Test century.

Australia, ultimately relieved to avoid a first-innings deficit in this latest instalment of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series, then saw Travis Head's 39no help them overcome the early loss of Usman Khawaja (6) before the close.

David Warner will miss the rest of the game due to concussion, and has also suffered a hairline elbow fracture, it was announced earlier in the day.

Lyon closes in

Lyon took his Baggy Green career haul to 496 wickets, putting him on the brink of becoming the sixth Australia bowler to reach 500 at international level. A long-format specialist, some 466 of Lyon's scalps have come in Tests.

With the breakthrough wicket of Rahul, Lyon became the second Australia player to reach 100 wickets in all formats against India, after Brett Lee, who took 111 wickets. This haul also took him to 100 wickets in Border-Gavaskar Trophy matches.

Axar keeps hosts in touch

Axar's innings was a terrific concoction, as he struck three sixes and nine fours before going after another powerful shot and perishing to an exemplary catch from Cummins. He went wicket-less during 12 overs with the ball in Australia's first innings, but this was another reminder he is in the team as a bowling all-rounder.

He made a modest 249 runs in his first 13 Test innings, but has plundered 158 from his last two knocks.

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