(Updates to tea)
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE, Dec.27 (Reuters) – Australia eliminated India with two wickets, but alternate captain Ajinkya Rahane stood firm to uplift half a century and guide tourists to safer ground on day two of the second test in Melbourne on Sunday.
India was 189 for five in response to the opening rounds of Australia 195 before the rain brought tea at the start of a scorching afternoon at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Rahane, as skipper after the return of the future dad Virat Kohli to India after the first test, was 53 years old with the all-rounder called Ravindra Jadeja out of four.
India had resumed the 90 for three after lunch with Rahane and Hanuma Vihari looking to mow down Australia’s modest total.
The pair struck sensibly for a tense half hour against the rhythm and rotation combination of Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon before Rahane shuddered at the Indian camp by calling in a coach.
A physio worked on the lower back for several minutes before resuming the fold.
Vihari only managed one more shot, a deft end shot for four off Lyon, before he was returned the next ball with an unsightly sweep to the spinner.
Fully judging the theft of the delivery, Vihari slashed the ball from his glove behind the wicket where Steve Smith took the easiest catch.
Recalled wicket keeper Rishabh Pant joined Rahane on the crease and rejuvenated the Indian innings, brutalizing Pat Cummins with a pair of fours in one and also working on Lyon.
Mitchell Starc was introduced and the lanky left-arm paceman struck in the second lesson of his spell to get Pant to be caught for 29 years.
A two-wicket flurry by Cummins in the morning had previously pulled Australia together after India resumed the day at 36-to-one.
Cummins turned down debutant Shubman Gill (45) for half a century and also fired Indian number three Cheteshwar Pujara for 17 in a five-ball blast in the middle of the session.
Cummins broke the pair’s 61-innings partnership with a ball that teased Gill in an attempt to push away from the body, sending a boost to the goalkeeper and captain Tim Paine.
Cummins then drew a thick edge from Pujara, with Paine diving to his right to catch a brilliant one-handed grip.
Australia lead the series of four tries 1-0 after beating India by eight wickets in three days at the Adelaide Oval.
(Edited by Peter Rutherford)