Perth: David Warner's 180 powered Australia to a strong lead before their bowlers set about routing India a second time on day two of the third Test at the WACA ground. Australia were cut down for 369 after an opening stand of 214 between Warner and Ed Cowan, but any gains made by India's bowlers were frittered away by their batsmen, who limped to 4 for 88. They were still 120 runs short of making Australia bat again, and a handful of wickets away from surrendering the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
It was the left-armer Mitchell Starc's turn to be the visitors' chief tormentor, swinging the ball at high pace while also gaining some steepling bounce. Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus also struck to maintain their summer jaunt through the visitors' batting, while Ryan Harris beat the bat often.
Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli were India's last faint hope, but it seemed a forlorn one given how the ball continued to swing, seam and bounce. The failures of the other top-order batsmen opened the question of whether or not Rohit Sharma will debut in Adelaide.
Starc defeated Gautam Gambhir with a ball that pranced at the batsman and looped to gully off the bat handle, and then pinned Sachin Tendulkar lbw with in-swing. Tendulkar was unhappy about the decision, shaking his head as he walked off then reacting with dismay to replays that showed the ball clipping leg stump. Virender Sehwag was undone by a Siddle delivery that lifted and left him, while VVS Laxman made another duck on a wretched tour, edging Hilfenhaus' outswinger into the cordon.
For all of India's woes, their bowlers had again found a trace of brittleness in the hosts' batting. Australia lost all 10 wickets for 155 from the time Cowan was the first man out, underlining the value of Warner's innings, among the most brazen played by a Test opener, and his partnership of contrast with the more restrained Cowan. However it reflected poorly on the batsmen that Siddle's 30 was the next best score.
Yadav claimed five wickets for the first time in Tests, striking three times in a hostile morning spell, then Ishant, Zaheer Khan and Vinay Kumar chimed in across the afternoon to limit the hosts' lead to 208.
Resuming at 0 for 149, Cowan and Warner played in more or less the same vein as the previous evening. If Warner reined in his game at all, it was only in a nod to better bowling from the visitors. He was still inclined to swing for the fences every now and then, and crashed another straight drive over Ishant's head for his fourth six.
The first chance of the innings arrived at 193, Warner touching a well-pitched delivery from Zaheer only for it to be dropped by Kohli at first slip. Cowan accumulated soundly at the other end, reaching his second half-century of the series and rotating the strike intelligently. It was he who raised the 200 stand, pulling Yadav to the square-leg boundary to take Australia's openers past that mark for the first time since Simon Katich and Phil Jaques did it against West Indies in 2008.
Thoughts had turned to the possibility of a Cowan century when Yadav moved around the wicket and produced a delivery that moved back a shade to burst between the opener's bat and pad and disturb the stumps. Cowan was crestfallen to have left the middle, but the following passage would show that batting was not as easy as it had seemed.
Warner was struck a painful blow on the elbow, requiring the physio's attention for the second time in his innings, and Marsh fell cheaply for the fourth time in as many innings this series. He played at a delivery that left him and snicked to Laxman at second slip. Ponting managed one back-foot cover drive before he too was undone by Yadav, who found just enough swing and seam from the off to flatten the former captain's middle stump.
The merry progress of Warner continued in a stand of 48 with his captain Michael Clarke, before the opener finally miscued a loft to offer an outfield catch. Much as Warner cussed, the end of the innings reflected the crazy brave manner of its construction.
Clarke received a fine delivery from Zaheer, angled in then moving subtly away, and a similar ball also accounted for Brad Haddin, the wicketkeeper's duck raising further questions about his place in the side. Michael Hussey battled for fluency and was oddly subservient to the cleaner hitting of Siddle in another brief stand, before Vinay collected his first wicket when Hussey cut to gully.
Siddle's fluent stay was ended when Yadav beat the outside edge to flick his off stump, Harris perished for 9 when he lobbed a pull shot to square leg, and Hilfenhaus could not contain himself against Sehwag's off spin. But bad as Australia's batsmen had done once Warner departed, India would do worse.