Mitchell Johnson (left) and Steven Smith added 148 runs for the seventh wicket © Getty Images
Mitchell Johnson (left) and Steven Smith added 148 runs for the seventh wicket to turn the match on its head © Getty Images

By Shiamak Unwalla

Dec 19, 2014

Australia’s lower order continued to make merry against some abysmal bowling from India as they went to tea at a score of 503 for nine, having taken an 95-run lead on Day Three of the second Test. Steven Smith and Mitchell Johnson massacred the Indian bowling with a thunderous 148-run partnership for the seventh wicket.

Australia, once in danger of folding up for just around 300, went past India’s total of 408 to take an imposing first-innings lead. Johnson was the first to go, edging Ishant Sharma to MS Dhoni. Smith was then bowled off the final ball of the over — dismissed for the first time in the series — for 133. That united Mitchell Starc — whose highest Test score of 99 came against the same opposition — and Nathan Lyon.

Starc seemed to take over from where Johnson left off, scoring quickly and playing some aggressive shots to the pacers. Lyon was happy to defend as the Indian bowlers toiled. Lyon was dismissed by Varun Aaron for a well-compiled 23. Starc scored his second Test fifty against India, while debutant No. 11 Josh Hazlewood gave an excellent account of himself as well. The pair used their long handles to great effect as the lead kept swelling. Their 49-run alliance for the final wicket remained unbroken at tea.

Earlier, India started the day on an ideal note, with Ishant Sharma getting Mitchell Marsh clean bowled for 11, adding just four runs to his overnight score. New man Brad Haddin did not last very long either, getting caught at short leg by Cheteshwar Pujara while fending off a short ball from Varun Aaron.

However, that would remain India’s last success for the session. Johnson, batting at No. 8, came in and was greeted by a barrage of short balls. While there were a few plays and misses initially, an over-abundance of short balls eventually got old, as Johnson got a good measure of the bowling.

Johnson looked every bit the batsman who scored a Test hundred in South Africa as he unfurled pull shots, back foot drives, and later some good old slogs en route to his 37-ball half-century. Johnson hit Aaron for three fours in a row to get to the landmark. He later hit Ravichandran Ashwin for a big six over long-on in a manner reminiscent of his assault on Graeme Swann on this very ground a year ago.

Smith meanwhile scored his sixth Test hundred, and second of the series, as he quietly went about his business with Johnson blazing away at the other end. Smith now has scores of 162 not out, 52 not out, and 110 not out in this series. India would be very worried at the moment, with the partnership between the pair has being worth 104, as Australia trail by just 57 runs.

Earlier, Australia resumed the day on 221 for four with skipper Smith unbeaten on 65 and Marsh on seven. Umesh Yadav was the pick of the Indian bowlers on Day Two with three for 48 as Australia were trailing by 187 runs behind India’s 408.

Brief scores:

India 408 (Murali Vijay 144, Ajinkya Rahane 81; Josh Hazlewood 5 for 68, Nathan Lyon 3 for 105) trail Australia 503 for 9 (Chris Rogers 55, Steven Smith 133, Mitchell Johnson 88; Ishant Sharma 3 for 117, Umesh Yadav 3 for 101) by 95 runs.

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(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)