Rahane ton puts India ahead
A superb captains knock of 104* from Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane and a poor fielding display from Australia has put India in the box seat after two days of the second Test at the MCG.
Australia dropped six catches on a lamentable day in the field, India's lead 82 at the close of play with five wickets still in hand.
India resumed at 1-36 after bowling Australia out for 195 on the opening day, overcast skies greeting the players after the sun had shone brightly on day one.
Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara began circumspectly for India, Pujara surviving a review for caught behind from the opening ball of the day and Gill afforded a life in the next over when Tim Paine spilled a tough chance moving to his left behind the stumps off the bowling of Josh Hazlewood.
Pat Cummins provided the inspiration for Australia to break the stand, Gill edging to Paine having made 45 in his first Test innings while Pujara was sensationally caught by the Australian skipper low to his right in Cummins' next over, India under pressure at 3-64.
Rahane and Hanuma Vihari survived till the lunch break despite a probing spell from Cummins and Hazlewood, the pair growing in confidence after the interval as Australia's bowling and fielding lacked discipline.
Vihari gloved a sweep from Nathan Lyon to Steven Smith at first slip to depart for 21 having added 52 with his captain, but wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant took the attack to the home side's bowlers to swing the momentum India's way.
Rahane was proving hard to dislodge as he absorbed the pressure of the situation, Pant helping add 57 for the fifth wicket as they approached Australia's meagre first inning total.
Pant edged a cut to give Mitchell Starc his 250th Test wicket, Paine with the catch to mark his 150th dismissal, the fastest Australian wicketkeeper to the milestone.
It would be the last success Australia would have for the day as Rahane and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja added an unbroken 104 run stand for the sixth wicket, taking India past Australia and in to the lead in the process.
Australia couldnt claim the chances presented to them in a dismal fielding performance, Rahane edging between keeper Paine and a wide slip Smith on 57 before being afforded a life by the latter on 73 when driving at a full wide swinging delivery from Starc, Smith shelling the chance above his head at second slip.
Rahane reached his 12th Test century and second at the MCG by cutting Cummins to the point boundary, having faced 195 balls in an innings that is likely to define the match.
Jadeja had reached 40 from 104 balls by stumps having struck only one boundary, while Rahane was given another life when Travis Head spilt a simple chance running in from point after Starc found the splice of the right hander's bat, the ball popping up via his helmet to Head who put down yet another chance.
It proved to be the final ball of the day as rain and strong southerly winds arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled close, ground staff made to work overtime to get the covers down in remarkable weather conditions.
India will resume at 5-277 on day three, a big first innings lead in prospect as they look to level the Border-Gavaskar series.
IMAGE: NZ Herald.