Bengaluru, March 4 (IANS) Off-spinner Nathan Lyon ripped apart the Indian batting line-up with career-best figures of 8/50 as the visitors took the upper hand on the opening day of the second cricket Test at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Saturday.
Lyon's figures were the best ever by an Australian bowler against India. The 29-year-old right-armer was helped along by some poor shot selection by the Indian batsmen.
Fast bowler Mitchell Starc and left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe also bagged a wicket each as the hosts were bundled out for a meagre 189 in their first innings. Resuming after the tea break at 168/5, India lost the remaining five wickets to Lyon in a span of just 21 runs on a wicket that had good bounce for the batsmen.
Opener Lokesh Rahul was the lone batsman to offer some kind of resistance as the Indians succumbed to the Australian spinners for the third consecutive time in the series.
Rahul waged a lonely battle even as wickets kept falling at regular intervals at the other end. He scored 90 runs off 205 balls with nine boundaries before finally falling to Lyon at the fag end of the Indian innings.
Australia reached 40 for no loss to trail India by 149 runs at stumps. Openers David Warner (23 batting) and Matt Renshaw (15 batting) survived a few close calls from off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to head back undefeated when the umpires dislodged the bails for the day.
Earlier, Starc and Lyon struck early blows in the morning session as the Indian innings got off to a rocky start.
Electing to bat first on winning the toss, the hosts suffered their first blow in the third over when an in-swinging full toss by Starc hit opener Abhinav Mukund on the pads.
Mukund shuffled across the stumps in an attempt to hit the ball to the onside. But he mistimed his shot and was caught plumb in front of the stumps before opening his account.
That saw Pujara stride to the middle and the right-hander from Gujarat proceeded to display his trademark solid defensive style.
He scored 17 runs off 66 balls and produced a 61-run partnership with Rahul before misreading the turn and bounce of a Lyon delivery to be dismissed off the last ball before lunch.
The hosts suffered another big blow after the restart when Kohli was trapped leg before by Lyon. The ball spun in sharply and the Indian captain left it alone only to see it hit his pads right in front of the stumps.
To make matters worse, Kohli also wasted a review. He surprisingly decided to call for the review and walked off the field even before the third umpire had delivered his verdict.
Kohli scored just 12 runs off 17 balls with two hits to the fence.
That seemed to put the brakes on the scoring rate as Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking.
India plunged deeper into trouble when Rahane went down the track to Lyon only to be beaten by the turn and Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade pulled off the stumping after an initial fumble.
Wade had dropped the ball initially, but Rahane was so far out of his crease that the Australian still had time to collect the ball and knock the bails off.
Wade did better the next time round when he neatly collected an O'Keefe delivery before stumping Karun Nair.
Nair seemed to be in good touch, scoring 26 runs off 39 deliveries before stepping out to O'Keefe only to be fooled by the turn shortly before tea.
The hosts continued to lose wickets at regular intervals after tea. Lyon struck in the third over after resumption, sending Ashwin back to the pavilion when David Warner pulled off a catch at backward short leg.
Lyon dismissed Wriddhiman Saha soon after with one that did not turn too much after pitching. Saha expected the ball to turn more but was fooled by the lack of lateral movement and the ball took the outside edge on its way to Australian captain Steven Smith in the slips.
Ravinder Jadeja also did not last too long as Lyon picked up another wicket. The ball kissed the inside edge slightly before hitting the pads on its way into the hands of Smith in the slips. The umpire had initially adjudged Jadeja not out but a successful review by the Australians prompted him to change his decision.
Lyon then brought his best haul in Test cricket by dismissing Rahul and Ishant Sharma in consecutive deliveries which put an end to a poor batting effort by the hosts in their first innings.