Captain Virat Kohli and in-form Cheteshwar Pujara resisted an Australian bowling onslaught in the middle session on day two, digging India out of a shaky start in the second test on Saturday.

In reply to Australia’s first innings of 326, India recovered from the cheap dismissals of openers Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul to reach tea at a more comfortable 70 for two.

Kohli was 37 not out and Pujara, who was India’s hero in the first test with scores of 123 and 71, unbeaten on 23 with the pair watchful on a green-tinged Perth Stadium pitch.

The visitors suffered the first blow on the stroke of lunch when a fired-up Mitchell Starc clean bowled Vijay for a duck.

Australia’s momentum continued after the resumption when Rahul was bowled by a full Josh Hazlewood delivery for two.

Kohli started confidently and took a liking to Hazlewood, smashing four drives to the boundary in his first 10 deliveries faced, before being tied down by accurate bowling from quick Pat Cummins and spinner Nathan Lyon.

The India talisman had scored just 83 runs in his past seven test innings against Australia, but his unbeaten 62-run partnership with Pujara has given his team hope of reeling in Australia’s competitive first innings total.

Australia, desperate for a victory to level up the series, batted doggedly through the morning under overcast skies to add 49 vital runs to their overnight score.

Tim Paine (38) and Pat Cummins (19) combined for a crucial seventh-wicket partnership of 59. Big quick Ishant Sharma (4-41) will start Australia’s second innings on a hat-trick after running through the tail as the home side lost their last four wickets for 16 runs.

Marcus Harris top-scored with 70, with Aaron Finch and Travis Head also making half-centuries in the fierce heat of the opening day.

The test is the first at the new 60,000-seat stadium located in Burswood after a 47-year run at the WACA and Australia will be keen to end a run of six tests without a victory against an India side seeking a first series win Down Under.