New Season, New tour, same old results. This is what sums up the present Indian Cricket line-up. Team India was expected to post a humongous score in the first day of the first test and then dominate Australia. Despite winning the toss, India lost four top-order batsmen cheaply inside 20 overs that diminished them to 41/4.
A steady partnership was what was required at this important juncture of the game that would have helped the visitors in crossing the 300-run mark. Every time the Indians showed a bit of promise with their partnerships, the consistent and attacking bowling line planned by the Aussies got the better of the batsmen. Cheteshwar Pujara was the batting mainstay today and was awarded for his sheer patience and resilience by cracking his 16th Test Ton.
He initially stitched an all-important partnership with Rohit Sharma for 45 runs for the fifth wicket before the latter threw away his wicket. Same old Rohit, you can say. Rishabh Pant then came in and chipped in for a brief partnership of 41 runs before he too perished, which left India reeling at 127/6 with 40 overs still to be played.
Ravichandran Ashwin, having been the saviour of India’s lower order in recent times, joined Pujara and both embarked on a healthy partnership of 62 runs thus steering India to 189. A peach of a delivery from Pat Cummins unsettled Ashwin that resulted in him handing over an easy catch to Peter Handscomb positioned in second slip. At one point, after Pant’s dismissal, it looked like India would be all out within 160–170 mark. But, this partnership positioned India to put up a respectable total that could help them fight in the match.
The ninth-wicket partnership between Pujara and Mohammed Shami added some useful runs for India. Both of them played freely, with Pujara going on to score a ton with a number of boundaries that can certainly place him up in the contention for an IPL contract.
Just at the stroke of the day’s play, Pujara ran himself out trying to steal a quick single. At stumps, India are 250/9. Adding 10–20 more runs can prove to be a fighting score for the visitors as the hosts do not boast of a great batting lineup.
Pitch Condition: The pitch for the First Test played at the Adelaide Oval was a batsman’s paradise despite the tinge of grass that helped seam movements initially. If a batsman played away the initial phase, he could have easily scored runs.
Toss: Calling Heads, Indian Captain Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bat first. It seemed to be a logical move considering the drop-in pitch that has been prepared in Adelaide for the last five years, has been batting-friendly.
First Session: KL Rahul and Murali Vijay opened the Indian innings and Mitchell Starc opened the bowling for Australia. Rahul’s loss of form and him lacking confidence showed in the very second over of the innings when he tried to drive that resulted in a heavy edge. Aaron Finch, on second slip, made no mistake and his catch gave Josh Hazelwood his first wicket of the game.
Murali Vijay too gifted away his wicket attempting to drive Starc. Virat Kohli was undone by a spectacular catch by Usman Khawaja of Pat Cummins. Ajinkya Rahane seemed to have come up with an attacking approach to his game as he showed intent. This, however, did not help him as he was dismissed by Hazlewood, thus decimating India to 41/4 inside 20 overs. Rohit Sharma joined Pujara and played on till lunch, where India had managed 56/4 in 27 overs.
Second Session: Rohit and Pujara resumed the proceedings for India while Cummins did the same for Australia. Rohit looked positive and was batting well, complementing Pujara before he did what he has so far done in his test career, throw away his wicket through a lazy shot.
Rishabh Pant came in and played his attacking brand of cricket before he too perished to Nathan Lyon. At this stage, Ravichandran Ashwin joined Pujara and both patiently and skilfully took India through the Tea Time. India finished the second innings at 143/6 in 56 overs with Pujara at 46 and Ashwin at 5.
Third Session: Starc resumed the final session of the day. In due time did Pujara crossed his 20th half-century and along with Ashwin steadied the Indian sinking ship. Ashwin got out to a ripper by Cummins before Pujara and Mohammed Shami scored quickly, playing free-flowing shots at will. Pujara got to his 16th Century in the meantime before running himself out at the stroke of day’s play. At stumps, India are 250/9 with Jasprit Bumrah to join Shami at the crease.
What should Australia aim for tomorrow?
Australia should try to get the final wicket as cheaply as possible and then come up with a positive approach and try get the Indian tail out. If they manage to take a lead of 80–100 runs, the game can certainly be called theirs.
What should India aim for tomorrow?
India should hope that Shami and Bumrah add 15–20 runs more that would give a cushion to the bowlers. They should also quickly take wickets with the new ball just to unsettle the Baggy Greens and dissuade them from playing an attacking brand of cricket. India will not have an exceptionally high score to defend, thus, their bowlers have to be aggressive. Ashwin would also have to play a major role and be decisive since Lyon got great assistance from the pitch.
Through Pujara and Ashwin’s efforts, India were able to score 250 despite looking shaky earlier. It is now to be seen if they can bounce back or would the hosts continue to dominate.
Tomorrow is an important day to tell how the match will proceed. It is to be seen who will come up on top. What do you feel? Will India crawl their way back up to the top or will Australia dominate?