Kohli in top form as In­dia fights on

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - BEN HORNE AND JOE BAR­TON BEN HORNE

VI­RAT Kohli si­lenced Su­nil Gavaskar and a des­per­ate Aus­tralian at­tack to keep In­dia alive and kick­ing in the sec­ond Test in Perth.

The nor­mally un­stop­pable King of In­dian cricket had not made a half cen­tury against Aus­tralia in nine in­nings when he strode to the crease at 2-8, only to waste no time build­ing his lat­est Test master­piece.

Not only was Kohli un­der pres­sure from the as­tute bowl­ing plans of the Aussie quicks but he copped a rare spec­tac­u­lar spray from one of his own af­ter the great Gavaskar un­leashed on his tac­tics as cap­tain early on day two.

In­dia is still 154 runs be­hind Aus­tralia’s first in­nings to­tal of 326, but as the grem­lins in the Perth pitch in­cred­i­bly dis­ap­peared yes­ter­day, Kohli (82 not-out) is bear­ing down on a sev­enth ca­reer ton against his most de­spised ri­vals, af­ter steer­ing his side to 3-172 at stumps.

Gavaskar sav­aged Kohli for not open­ing with key swing weapon Jasprit Bum­rah with a vir­tu­ally new ball to start day two, as Tim Paine (38) and Pat Cum­mins (19) piled on a valu­able 49 lower-or­der runs on a mys­tery pitch.

Mitchell Starc (2-42) hit back at fierce con­dem­na­tion from Shane Warne with two ADAM Gilchrist has urged Mitchell Starc not to tame the tiger within in his bid to be­come a more con­sis­tent force.

Starc (pic­tured) had steam com­ing out his ears yes­ter­day in Perth when he ex­ploded out key scalps in­clud­ing a crack­ing de­liv­ery to skit­tle Mu­rali Vi­jay in the third over which he cel­e­brated an­i­mat­edly, but Cum­mins and Nathan Lyon went wick­et­less on a day of ex­haust­ing toil.

Kohli, af­ter weath­er­ing a re­lent­less spell from Pat Cum­mins (0-40), showed his cham­pion qual­i­ties as he an­chored crit­i­cal match-sav­ing part­ner­ships with Chetesh­war Pu­jara and Ajinkya Ra­hane (51 not out) worth 74 and 90 un­beaten runs re­spec­tively.

Kohli’s in­nings made up for pulling the wrong rein in the morn­ing when he gave a ni­neovers’ old sec­ond new ball to Is­hant Sharma and Mo­hammed Shami – who were dis­mally short and limp and al­lowed Aus­tralia easy runs.

Gavaskar was highly crit­i­cal of In­dia’s modern-day su­per­star bats­man.

“As­ton­ished, baf­fled not just sur­prised,” Gavaskar told Sony Sports of the de­ci­sion.

“Baf­fled be­cause (of) the ball he (Bum­rah) bowled to Paine with the sec­ond new ball to­wards the end of yes­ter­day’s play – pitch­ing on a length, beat­ing Paine and go­ing over wick­et­keeper Pant’s head.

“When some­body is bowl­ing that way … Why would you not give him the ball straight away at the start of the day’s play?

“He’s been your best bowler on this sur­face.” of the blocks to dec­i­mate Mu­rali Vi­jay’s stumps in just the third over of In­dia’s in­nings on day two and when he broke through the wall that is Chetesh­war Pu­jara, a point had been made.

Starc had re­sponded to one “King” in Shane Warne, but SEC­OND TEST - AUS­TRALIA V IN­DIA DAY TWO AT PERTH an­other, Vi­rat Kohli, main­tained an omi­nous pres­ence at the crease.

Speak­ing for the first time since be­ing slammed by Warne again on the eve of the Test, Starc hit back at his crit­ics fol­low­ing the Ade­laide Test.

“Bar about three overs I was pretty happy. I stuck to my plans, and did my role for the team,” Starc said.

“I’ve worked on my con­sis­tency the past few years and my econ­omy rate was the best it’s been in my ca­reer.”

Gilchrist said Starc had to be care­ful his search for more con­sis­tency didn’t cost him his x-fac­tor edge.

“Mitch Starc men­tioned again he’s try­ing to get con­sis­tency – that’s a del­i­cate bal­ance,” Gilchrist said in com­men­tary for Fox Cricket.

“You do not want to sap them of that nat­u­ral x-fac­tor.”

Pic­ture: TREVOR COLLENS/AP PHOTO

In­dia's Vi­rat Kohli de­fends a short ball in the sec­ond Test in Perth yes­ter­day. In­dia’s cap­tain was an im­pres­sive 82 not-out at stumps

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