Australia and India leave Perth neck and neck
Updated: Apr 13, 2019
The term 'neck and neck' is more familiar to horse racing than cricket. Two horses going down the straight towards the finish line, one leads, and then other one hits the front til they hit the finish line. Then if it's close enough, they call for the photo.
So far Australia and India have been going at it like two strongly built horses heading down the straight, as soon as Australia got off to an early lead in Adelaide, India came back and took it off them. The visitors had a good lead but Australia came home strongly, only for India to hold on. The Perth test was no different, continuing a close battle between two very even teams.
On reflection, a large part of the second test was won and lost in the very first session. An inexperienced opening pair putting on a century for the first wicket meant Australia were able to post a score above 300. Despite a couple of collapses (Australia lost 4/36 and 4/16 at different times), 326 on a wicket that wasn't overly flat provided a good platform when it came time to bowl..
Virat Kohli's 25th test hundred looked to have put India in control. No doubt with him at the crease he, and the millions of viewers tuning in, would have been starting to think of a 2-0 scoreline. However with India getting it's neck in front, Australia fought back late. India's tail only adding 10 runs. Australia had it's neck in front again, and the 43 run first innings lead felt like double that given India had to bat last on a track that was only going to get harder to bat on.
Once Australia got it's neck in front India did it's best to peg back their lead, and the wicket of Travis Head provided a sniff, but a dogged and determined partnership from Usman Khawaja (72) and captain Tim Paine (37) helped the home team to what looked a winning score. If Australia was a horse it had got to a lead that was going to have to take something special to pull back.
Once Virat Kohli went on the fourth day that something special could no longer have a direct influence on the match. Although Australia ran away with the match on day 5, thanks largely to another Indian tail collapse, the reality was the two teams were back at neck and neck. 1 match all.
The momentum looks to be with Australia, who have a spinner in excellent form and a fast bowling unit that has wickets in them. However India will field a better balanced team in Melbourne, and will also be able to bring the exciting Prithvi Shaw into their starting line up.
The new Perth ground got off to a winning start for the home team, but as we reach half way down the stretch, any horse can still win.