2nd Test, Perth: India grab three after lunch, Australia 145/3 at tea
Aaron Finch (50) and Marcus Harris (70) put on 112 before India hit back. © Cricket Australia

The Optus Stadium pitch has started to pose problems. Edges fell short, balls were squirted past square leg, some sprang up and some were grubbers. Jasprit Bumrah found a bit of pace during an excellent spell of 5-3-3-1 and Umesh Yadav and Hanuma Vihari broke through not long before tea to reduce Australia to 145/3 by tea on day one of second Test in Perth.

In the first session, Australia scored 66 runs in 26 overs. From the second, they made 79 in 27 for the loss of three wickets. India didn’t exactly roar back after a wicketless morning session, but it was indeed progress after a perkier effort from their four-man pace attack.

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After leading an opening stand of 112, on 60 Marcus Harris slashed Mohammed Shami to second slip where KL Rahul palmed the ball off his fingertips. Ten runs later, Harris edged Vihari to slip. It was a gripping second session, and one that India bossed.

In the first over after lunch, bowled by Shami, Harris smoked two on-the-rise boundaries square on the offside. The one ball that separated those fours skidded under his bat at shin height. In Shami’s new over, Harris again cracked a square drive for four and Finch followed. On came Vihari for some off spin and immediately Finch used his feet to hit the first two balls for four before raising his fifty off 103 balls. On came Bumrah and with it the wicket, as Finch played all over a full delivery and was trapped plumb in front for 50.

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It had taken India 35.2 overs to strike on a stinking hot day.

Usman Khawaja never looked at ease during his 38-ball stay, which yielded five runs before he nibbled Umesh to Rishabh Pant 25 minutes before tea. And it wasn’t swing or seam that ended Harris’ innings on 70 when he was surprised by a ball from Vihari that sat up and took the glove for slip to hold a simple catch.

Three wickets on an up-and-down surface marked progress after India toiled in the morning. Searching for swing, the quicks erred in line and allowed Harris and Finch to clip and drive without worry early on. Pant had a tough time behind the stumps, forced to repeatedly fling himself around to stop wild balls down the pads. He did well, it has to be said.

India’s bowlers lacked rhythm when it mattered – the first 12 overs, from which 45 runs came. They beat the ball frequently, especially in the second hour, but without reward. The closest India came to a wicket during the first session was when Virat Kohli flung the ball from mid-off and Finch sprawled to make his crease.

Getting ample deliveries on the pads, Harris and Finch flicked and drove and scampered singles. India reviewed an lbw shout against Finch off Shami, but in vain. Off the very next ball, Shami thudded the ball into Finch and again the verdict was not out. India did not review, and ball tracking had the ball hitting the top of the stumps. Shami was controlling in his first spell of 4-2-3-0 and the best of the four.

The value of not losing early wickets had been far greater than what the scorecard showed at lunch.

Tea: Australia 145/3 (Harris 70, Finch 50) vs India