PERTH • Captain Virat Kohli determinedly led India's fightback on an engrossing Day 2 yesterday, blunting Australia's bowling attack to leave the second cricket Test hanging in the balance.
In reply to the hosts' first innings of 326, the away side fought back on the green-tinged Perth Stadium pitch to reach stumps at 172 for three, with Kohli 82 not out and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane unbeaten on 51.
Kohli's dogged play after reaching his first half-century against Australia in almost four years rubbed off on his team, with India bowler Ishant Sharma saying: "We feel confident when he is batting.
"We finished the day in a strong position. Hopefully, tomorrow, we will win the first session."
However, batsman Usman Khawaja was still wary Australia's bowlers could exploit the pitch, opening up India's fragile lower order on Day 3 today.
"There is still enough in it," he said. "Hopefully, we can get a couple of wickets early and break this partnership. It isn't an easy wicket to start on."
The home side bowled accurately but the much-hyped pitch, marked with widening cracks, settled down late in the day.
A fired-up Mitchell Starc (2-42) rebounded after coming in for some criticism for his bowling during Australia's 31-run defeat in the first Test in Adelaide.
After losing two wickets in their first six overs, Kohli rescued India through half-century partnerships with the in-form Cheteshwar Pujara and Rahane.
The talisman had scored just 83 runs in his past seven Test innings against Australia, but his 181-ball knock has given his team hope of reeling in Australia's competitive first-innings total. India are seeking their first series win Down Under.
Australia, desperate for a victory to tie the series, batted with verve through the morning under overcast skies to add 49 vital runs to their overnight score.
Tim Paine (38) and Pat Cummins (19) combined for a crucial seventh-wicket partnership of 59.
AUSTRALIA V INDIA
2nd Test, Day 3: Singtel TV Ch123 & StarHub Ch236, 10.20am