The Day two of the first test in the 2018 India tour of Australia saw India fight back after being bundled up for a paltry 250 runs by the formidable Australian bowling attack. Playing for the final wicket, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah resumed the day’s play for India while Josh Hazlewood was to resume the innings for Australia as he had one ball to deliver to complete India’s 88th over.
Shami got caught to wicketkeeper-captain of the Baggy Greens, Tim Paine, off Hazlewood’s delivery on the very first ball of the day which restricted India to the overnight score of 250. India would have wanted to get early wickets and diminish Australia’s top-order to try and restrict the Kangaroos to a low score. And this wish was fulfilled by Ishant Sharma on the very third delivery of the Australian Innings, when he dismantled the off and middle-stump and took the precious wicket of Aaron Finch, the Australian-limited overs captain.
Usman Khawaja then joined Finch’s fellow opener and the debutant of this match Marcus Harris. Both of them played very defensibly and cautiously until a soft dismissal of Harris from Ashwin, who was introduced in the 11th over, left Australia reeling under pressure. Soon Shaun Marsh too departed post lunch while playing a bad shot that left Ashwin, the wicket-taker, with a wry smile.
Usman Khawaja on the other hand was playing a patient and gritty innings, scoring runs at minimal risks. The credit although should be given to the Indian bowlers who were bowling relentlessly and in a disciplined line and length that made batting pretty difficult. Khawaja too was undone by Ashwin through a ripper which was pretty special. Khawaja until his dismissal had played 125 deliveries scoring 28 runs with hitting just a single boundary. As he was removed from the pitch, Australia were under tremendous pressure because they had just put 89 runs on the board at the loss of 4 wickets.
Travis Head had joined Peter Handscomb in the middle after Khawaja’s dismissal and both stood their grounds for Australia’s recovery until a fiery spell by Ishant and Bumrah sent Handscomb and Paine back to their hood. Australia at this stage were languishing at 127 for 6 and it seemed as if Australia were to hand in a huge lead to India.
But Head along with Pat Cummins added a valuable 50 runs partnership for the Kangaroos to reduce the deficit to 73 runs. The new ball was taken on the 80th over and that soon allowed the breakthrough that the Indians were looking upon. Pat Cummins was dismissed leg before wicket to Bumrah, which happened to be a peach of a delivery. In the meantime, Head playing at his home ground reached to his second fifty in what turned out to be an important knock considering the Australian Innings. Australia at stumps were 191 for 7 in 88 overs and were trailing India by 59 runs.
First Session: Shami got out in the very first delivery of the day’s play. This eventually resulted in India being bowled out for their overnight score of 250 runs. The Australian Innings began with a right hand – left hand combination of Finch and Harris while the Indians started with the pace of Ishant Sharma. India needed early wickets and this was given to them by Sharma who bowled out Finch in the first over itself. Soon Ashwin got the better of Harris as Australia were reduced to 45 for 2. At the end of first session, Australia were 57/2 with Khawaja and Marsh at strike.
Second Session: India started the second session just where they left the first one, bowling in persistent line the Indians were soon rewarded with the wicket of Marsh in the first over itself post lunch off Ashwin. Khawaja and Handscomb negated the Indian bowling well until Khawaja fell prey to Ashwin, who was bowling as if he was bowling in the subcontinent. The Indians made sure that 250 looked bigger for the Aussies as they were not giving away any free runs and were making Aussies struggle for each and every run. Australia were questioned for their defensive antics which was unlike any Australian side since the 20th Century. At tea, Australia were 117 for the loss of 4 wickets with Handscomb 33(84) and Head 17(44) present in the middle.
Third Session: Right after Tea, Bumrah got the better of Handscomb dismissing him for 34 runs. Soon Ishant sent the Aussie captain packing his bags with his 50th Aussie test scalp. Australia were lingering at this stage with the score reading 127 for 6 in 63 overs. It looked certain that Australia would concede a big lead to India. But Travis along with Pat Cummins ensured that Australia would continue to fight with an all-important partnership of 50 runs. The new ball was taken in the 80th over itself by the Indian Captain Virat Kohli and this move showed immediate result when Bumrah dismissed Cummins for an LBW. Meanwhile, Travis Head completed his second half century. Mitchell Starc complemented the home boy Head by not throwing away his prized wicket thus trailing India by 59 runs at stumps. Australia were 191 for 7 with Head 61 not out and Starc 8 not out at the end of days play.
What should Australia aim for tomorrow?
With Head still present in the crease, Australia are more certainly to reduce the deficit to 10–15 runs, or may be take a lead of 30–40 runs. Upon India’s second innings, Australia should try to dismantle the Indian top-order and should look to try and restrict the Indians to have a lead around 200–220. Anything beyond this score would be trouble for the Aussies.
What should India aim for tomorrow?
India should try to pick up the tail-enders wicket as quickly as possible and have a lead of around 30 runs. Then they should look to bide their time in the middle especially with the new ball and score freely when the ball gets old. Also, since the wicket is turning quiet a lot, India should try to negate and score cautiously against Lyon, not attacking him as was done in the first Innings. If India manage to get a lead of around 220–250, it would become pretty tough for Australia even though two days still remain after the end of tomorrow’s game.
Tomorrow would be the most interesting day of the match and whosoever can capitalise and manage to win the important period played in this day will eventually win this test match. Whom are counting upon for a win? India or Australia.