Rahane leads India to 189-5 at tea, day 2 against Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Led by stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s unbeaten half-century, India is poised to post a first-innings lead over Australia after reaching 189-5 at tea on the second day of the second cricket test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Resuming on its overnight score of 36-1 in reply to Australia’s 195, India patiently chipped away at the host's lead and now trails by six runs on the first innings with five wickets in hand. Rain ended Sunday’s middle session with three balls remaining in the final over.

In a composed knock of 53 off 121 deliveries, with five boudaries, Rahane has steadied his side’s response, sharing half-century partnerships with Hanuma Vihari (21) and Rishabh Pant (29).

Facing a barrage of bouncers, Ravindra Jadeja is four not out.

India had edged to 90-3 at lunch, losing two wickets in Sunday’s first session.

Shubman Gill (45) and Cheteshwar Pujara (17) added 61 before pace bowler Pat Cummins (2-51) struck in successive overs.

Gill was dropped on four and 28, before an ambitious drive led to his dismissal caught behind at 61-2. Cummins pounced again in his next over, removing Pujara caught behind by a diving Tim Paine after a defiant 70-ball knock.

Vihari gloved an attempted sweep after lunch and was caught at slip off spinner Nathan Lyon’s bowling at 116-4.

Mitchell Starc (2-35) became the ninth Australian man to claim 250 test wickets when the left-arm quick removed Pant caught behind for 29 at 173-5. Pant’s attempted cut shot came with an absence of foot work.

India is without its best batsman and captain Virat Kohli, who has returned to India to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.

But India is in safe hands with Rahane still at the batting crease. Rahane also led the side in brilliant fashion in the field on Saturday, using his bowlers superbly and showing flair with his field settings.

Australia won the toss and batted on Saturday. Test cricket’s top-ranked batsman Steve Smith made a duck, before Travis Head (38) and Marnus Labuschagne (48) shared an 86-run stand for the fourth wicket. Their departures triggered a collapse of seven wickets for 71 runs as India took the first-day honors.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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