India A 223 for 3 (Easwaran 86, Samarth 83, Iyer 30*) trail Australia A 346 (Marsh 113*, Head 68, Kuldeep 5-91, Nadeem 3-90) by 123 runs
Having dismissed Australia A early in the first session through Kuldeep Yadav's five-for, after conceding the momentum to a lower-order partnership on Saturday, India A came roaring back into the game. At stumps on the second day, they were in a strong position at 223 for 3. Openers R Samarth and Abhimanyu Easwaran led that effort, putting on 174.
Samarth and Easwaran had small passages of trouble. They batted solidly until lunch, but the tougher task was posed immediately after they returned, with fast bowler Brendan Doggett immediately adopting a short-ball strategy. The most eventful over of the middle session ensued, with Samarth nearly fending the first ball to short leg, then running the next one fine with control. Doggett kept at it though, banging it short and enticing Samarth to play the hook. The batsman obliged as well, but under-edged twice in a row, nearly being bowled the second time. The next ball was gloved over leg slip as he played the shot again, but when he got on top of the next one and punched it through cover, the challenge had ended.
Easwaran was adept against the short ball, choosing the cautious approach as opposed to Samarth's method. When they'd successfully played out that spell, Australia were set for a long day. The spinners got little help from the wicket, despite extreme sun exposure on the hottest day of the match. This was largely because they constantly strayed full. Samarth and Easwaran, who have shown affinity to drive through the off side, kept taking the scoring opportunities.
They weren't letting the singles go either, taking on many half-chances in the in-field, and only once getting into a mix-up. With the fast bowlers getting nothing out of the surface and the spinners unable to gain control, the openers batted through the entire middle session to take India to 124 for 0. At that point, Australia had used seven bowlers in 37 overs. Marsh himself was one of them - having refrained from bowling in the first Test - but his return with the ball was ineffective.
While Samarth had been the aggressor, hovering at a strike rate close to 70 for most of his innings, Easwaran gave himself time before opening up. He dominated the play in the lead-up to Samarth's wicket. Agar, who improved drastically through his second and third spells, got an arm ball to slip through Samarth's defences and trapped him in front. The openers had put on 174 and halved the deficit by then.
But India offered Australia a way back in. Off the first ball of Agar's next over, Easwaran called for a run from the non-striker's end when Shreyas Iyer had dabbed one to cover's left. However, Iyer, still new to the crease and considerably into a forward stride, wasn't keen on the run. Easwaran tried desperately to make his way back, but was caught short by a run-out. India's batsmen haven't made a hundred in this series yet, and Easwaran was the latest on the list of those who came close.
While Australia managed to slow things down after and having produced some nervy moments for Iyer and Ankit Bawne, they didn't look any closer to getting a wicket until Mitchell Swepson changed the angle against Bawne in the penultimate over of the day. The legpsinner kept cover open and tossed one wide outside off from around the wicket, getting the batsman to attempt a drive that he wasn't close enough to play. Matthew Renshaw held on at first slip.
Australia's brightest period in the day had come early when Marsh, having survived an lbw shout and narrowly escaping when an arm ball missed off stump on 91, pushed on to make his eighth first-class century. At the other end, he'd lost overnight partner Michael Neser in the second over of the day, and the rest of the lower order was powerless against Kuldeep. Marsh attempted to up the run rate as a result, but with one ball to survive in the 109th over, Doggett stretched forward to defend a Kuldeep wrong'un that he hadn't picked. The edge was taken at first slip and Kuldeep completed his eighth five-wicket haul. Australia added only 56 to their overnight score.