Australia lose the edge!
Australia’s turn to collapse as Indian bowlers take the day
What a difference a day can make! India, who were in all sorts of trouble on day, saved only by the doggedness of Cheteswar Pujara, stormed back into the match to have Australia on the ropes and take the day’s honours.
Australia quickly put an end to India’s innings – 250/9 overnight- when Josh Hazlewood removed Mohammad Shami with the very first ball of the day.
The hosts quickly returned the favour though –that India so generously granted them yesterday- when Aaron Finch was bowled by the 3rd ball of the innings for a duck, going for an expansive drive only to have his stumps sent cartwheeling by Ishant Sharma.
Marcus Harris on his debut looked solid for his 26 and in the company of the in-form Usman Khawaja stitched together a 44 run partnership before Ashwin snared him just before the lunch break.
Shaun Marsh quickly departed on resumption for 2 and when Ashwin got the big scalp in this Australian line up – in the absence of Smith and Warner- Khawaja for 28, the baggy greens seemed to be in all sorts of trouble.
Peter Handscomb- who had done some extensive work with Chris Rodgers during his time out of the team- quickly got going with four crisp boundaries and staged a mini revival along with local lad Travis Head. His innings though came to an end at 34, just when he looked set for a big score.
When captain Tim Paine followed soon for a meager score of 5, undone by a beauty from Ishant Sharma, Australia were staring down the barrel at 127/6.
But in a similar fashion to yesterday, one man decided to battle it out against the opposition. If Pujara saved India on Day 1 with a lone hand, the hosts found their own Long Ranger in Travis Head on Day 2. And Just as the Indian no.3 found a willing partner in R.Ashwin, so too did the Australian no.6, in fast bowler Pat Cummins. The 2 added a 50 run partnership that got Australia back into the match. That coalition came to an end when Cummins was the last wicket to fall for a hard fought 10.
Head batted with great poise, attacking when the opportunity presented itself and defending stoutly when he needed to. He did not let the Indian bowlers dictate terms and played each ball on merit. He remained unbeaten at the end of the day on 61, with Starc keeping him company on 8. But for his resolute knock, the home team would not have found themselves just 59 runs adrift from the visitors score. At 191/7 the hosts are still very much in the game.
The Adelaide Test is once again poised interestingly, as it has come to be the case between these two teams at this venue. The hosts will be batting last, so they would like to keep the gap between India and themselves to a minimal if they’re behind and as wide as possible if they get ahead.
But one thing was glaring from today’s performance- Australia have lost the edge (in more ways than one)! The new look Australian team – after the events of ‘sandpapergate’- have struggled thus far. They lost the series to Pakistan in the UAE although they did show some fight. They came out with great intent yesterday, but for the first time in a very long time their batting unit did not look confident as the teams of past. Granted they have lost their two top batsmen and most of the team is inexperienced, but what stood out was the tentative and defensive mindset their batsman had gotten into. In the past, no matter what the situation was, they always played confidently and with a lot of fight, even if they were short on experience. But today, they went into survival mode, hardly showing any intent to stamp their authority on the game.
This is not the Australia that we have come to know and admire. There was never a backward step in their game that is until today. They seem defensive and unsure, not attacking and confident like they have been known to. They clearly aren’t enjoying the game like they used to and this is being reflected in their performances. But one thing is for sure, if they don’t rediscover their joie de vivre soon, this could indeed be a very long summer for the men from Down Under.