What a test match! Who says test match cricket is dead?
Australia locked the first place in the ICC World Test Championship as they defeated India by 8 wickets in a slugfest. India was playing their first overseas day-night test in Adelaide as Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first in a belter of a pitch.
Cameron Green became Australia’s 459th test cricketer as he was presented the baggy green by his teammate Pat Cummins. David Warner’s groin injury gave Mathew Wade a chance to open the batting for his country for the very first time in test match cricket. Surprisingly, Wriddhiman Saha was picket over Rishabh Pant, who scored a 73-ball century in the warm-up match against Australia A. Prithvi Shaw was picked over Shubman Gill. Both India and Australia had three proper pace bowling options in their respective squads.
Prithvi Shaw managed to score only four runs in the match as Australian bowlers exploited his weakness. Mitchell Starc strikes in his very first over as Prithvi fails to score again and goes for a duck in his first innings. However, he started well in his second innings by scoring 4 runs in 3 balls but again got out in a similar fashion.
“It’s a real concern. You see the first innings dismissal…. the backlift is coming from the second or third slip. These guys (Australian pacers) are too good. You are talking about the best bowlers and they are not going to let Prithvi Shaw get away with that backlift,” former England opener Nick Knight said after the close of the second day’s play on Extraaa Innings, studio show for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test series on Sony Six channels.
Prithvi Shaw has struggled versus the fast bowlers lately. Even in the IPL, he was not able to score runs against the pace bowlers. Prithvi Shaw also failed to score runs in the warm-up match against Australia A, scoring 0, 19, 40, and 3 in his four innings. On the other hand, Gill was looking in much better touch as he scored 0, 29, 43, and 65. Thus, many were surprised and questioned the selection of Prithvi Shaw over Gill. Especially, when the pink-ball works in favour of swing bowlers and you have names like Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Josh Hazelwood in the opponent team.
Have you ever heard the word, temporary captain? Well, Tim Paine is surely not one of them. Although, there were questions about Tim Paine and his captaincy before the start of the tour. Tim Paine shuts down the media by scoring his highest score in Adelaide. Australia was 79/5 when Tim Paine walked in and, all Australia needed at that time was a partnership. Marnus and Paine were looking good before Umesh got Marnus LBW. It was all Tim Paine after that. He was batting with obvious attacking intent. Paine got a bit of support from Starc 15(16) and Lyon 10(21). Paine top-scored with an unbeaten 73, including 10 boundaries, before India, bowled out Australia for 191 on the second day of the test match. He also won the man of the match for his performance.
While India’s bowling was exceptional in the first innings, India’s fielding was not really up to the mark. A total number of five catches was dropped by the Indian team. Remember, this is not the first time Indians are being sloppy with the fielding in this tour. India has dropped quite a number of catches in the One-day series and T20I series as well. Imagine a batsman getting three chances in a test match; Marnus Labuschagne was a lucky stiff that day. Marnus was first dropped when he was batting at 4 runs, Bumrah got Marnus with a length ball, that took the edge and keeper Saha drops it. Bumrah was not aware of the boundary rope as Marnus was again dropped by Bumrah at fine leg when he was batting at 12. Prithvi Shaw dropped the simplest of all catches at square leg as Marnus went on scoring 47.
“All I can think of is the Indians are in a Christmas mood. Giving their Christmas gifts a week early” said, Sunil Gavaskar.
Later on, when Australia was on the verge of collapse, Mayank Agarwal dropped a regulation catch of Tim Paine. That catch proved India costly as Paine went on scoring important innings for his team. Wriddhiman Saha again dropped a catch. This time it was Mitchell Starc; this was a tough one though. Mayank and Paine decided to switch roles as Paine dropped Mayank at the early stages of the third innings when India came to bat. Although, Virat Kohli did took a screamer of debutant Cameron Green; it is time India should pay equal attention to their fielding along with the batting and bowling or probably reconsider the choice of fielding coach.
Where the Indian bowling unit is performing really well in overseas conditions for the last couple of years; India’s batting is a bit of concern for the management. Batsmen are not able to carry forward the partnerships. We rarely score big opening partnerships in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia) countries. Most wickets in SENA countries offer extra pace or extra bounce and it is quite obvious that we struggle against pace or extra bounce. Earlier this year, when India was touring New Zealand for two test matches, India was only able to register the totals of 124, 165, 191, and 242 in their four test innings.
India had a 53 run lead when they came to bat in the third innings. Night-watchmen Bumrah survived initial deliveries as India finished with a total of 9/1 at the end of day two. India had a healthy 62 lead when they came to bat on day 3. After that, it was all Pat Cummins and Josh Hazelwood. They were trying to angle the bowl in; trying to go through batsmen’s defense. Cummins got the wicket of Bumrah in the second over. Soon after, he got Pujara behind the stumps. Hazelwood got the wicket of Agarwal in the first bowl of his spell. Kohli attempted a cover drive but was caught at gully. From 9/1 to 19/6, Australian bowlers were persistent as they were using the extra bounce the pitch was offering and bowling on the right areas. They wrapped up the tail quickly as India scored only 36, their lowest score in test cricket.
India’s lowest scores in Test cricket:
Australians bowlers caused absolute carnage as India registered their lowest total ever in test cricket. India was only able to post 36 on the board with no batsmen scoring runs in double figures. Josh Hazelwood bagged his 200th wicket and he became the 17th highest wicket-taker for Australia. He also became the 18th Australian bowler to surpass 200 wickets. Hazelwood and Cummins finished with the figures of 5-3-8-5 and 10.2-4-21-4. Joe Burns scored a career-saving fifty as Australia chased down the total comfortably as they go 1-0 up in the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
David Warner has finally recovered from his groin injury and might return to the Australian camp. Sean Abbott and Will Pucovski also return to the squad. Australia might give another chance to Cameron Green. Siraj/Saini will replace Shami and India may bring Rishabh Pant in place of Wriddhiman Saha as a wicket-keeping option. With Kohli not available from the second match (Paternity leave) and Shami ruled out for the rest of the series due to wrist injury, it will be really interesting to see how things roll out in the Boxing Day Test.