Australia and India once again showed what Test Cricket can offer that the other forms cannot in thrilling opening their Test Series at the Adelaide Oval. In a match in which the duelling top orders struggled, a last day rear guard action from Australia’s tail seeing them draw within touching distance of a record fourth innings chase in the city of churches.
Cheteshwa Pujara was the hero for India with his patient century the backbone of their recovery from 3/19 to 250. Virat Kohli struggled with the bat but he would no doubt have been consoled by the performance of his fast bowlers. Not many outside the Indian team held high hopes for the likes of Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah but the trio easily outpointed their more highly rated opponents Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazelwood.
Nathan Lyon was the shining light for the home team with both bat and ball. Last man standing in both innings he also claimed six second innings wickets and would have been in man of the match contention had he been able to see Australia home. Travis Head and Marcus Harris were two others who showed some fight in the losing cause.
Lets take a look at the hits and misses from the opening skirmish the battle for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
1. Cheteshwa Pujara
Pujara was probably the difference between the two sides.Tim Paine – Post Match
Having seen the Indian number three go about his business from close quarters, it was no surprise that Paine would characterise Pujara’s influence in this fashion. While his top order team mates were losing their heads around him, Pujara patiently went about rebuilding the Indian innings. It would take a remarkable piece of fielding from Pat Cummins, and perhaps a poor decision not to review a caught behind appeal, to bring an end to his first innings vigil of 123.
Unfortunately for Paine and the Australians, Pujara was not done with his tormenting of them. He would go close to repeating the dose in the second innings, facing a 200 deliveries and adding a further 71 runs.
2. The Goat produces an all-round effort to remember.
Robert Craddock – Cricket 360
It’s so true that Nathan Lyon is transformed as a personality in cricket. Remember the old Nathan Lyon six years ago, the No.11, have a swing Nathan … an insecure bowler, he used to ask the keeper ‘how am I bowling?’.
He is so tough, nerveless. He is Australia’s most mentally composed cricketer after previously being its most fragile.
It wasn’t that long ago that Nathan Lyon seemed the least appreciated member of he Australia Cricket Team. Time and again he found himself omitted from the team with the selectors seemingly convinced that there was a better option than the former Adelaide Oval greenskeeper.
This is no longer the case, with Lyon close to the first man selected for the Test team. In Adelaide he showed once again the reward for the selectors in putting faith in players. Not out for 24 in the first and 38 in the second, Australia’s most prolific off-spinner, showed up many of his top order counterparts who struggled in the same conditions. He also shone with the ball too, his six second innings wickets giving his team hope when all had seemed lost.
3. Travis Head shines again
It was a terrific innings. He had a big job do, easily looked the best batsman Australia has had. First Test match on your home venue it means a lot with your friends and family. We talk about averages but one of the things the stats don’t tell you is when they get your runs. It shows he has something. Appointed captain at 21 (of South Australia), he has something about him and someone you can build a team around, a bit of personality and spunk and character about them.Shane Warne – Fox Sports
In just his third Test Match, Travis Head showed again that he has the attributes to succeed at this level. His first innings 72 was the backbone of Australia’s recovery from 4-87 to a competitive total of 235. Taking the lead from Pujara’s century, Head showed great patience during his 167 ball stay at the crease. While he would fall shy of a maiden Test century, it would appear that he will have plenty of future opportunities to achieve this feat.
4. India’s Quicks
Despite India’s status at the World Number Test tea, the battle between the fast bowlers was expected to favour the Australians. After Adelaide this would appear to have been a serious underestimation of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumra and co. On every measure, apart from a 1km/ph difference in pace, the Indians outperformed their more fancied opponents. If this can continue throughout the series they will be well on the way to delivering India their first ever Test series win on these shores.
1. Missed No-Balls
There is three or four from him (this over) … he is clearly over the frontline and it hasn’t been called. It’s not acceptable in the game to have this many missed. I’ve said this for a number of years, I honestly don’t think the umpires look at the front line any more.… they were blatantly obvious ones. As we all know they’ll only ever look at them if a wicket falls, which as far as I’m concerned is not right.Ricky Ponting – Channel Seven
In the recent Sri Lanka v England series it was found that Lakshan Sandakan had overstepped on approximately 40% of his deliveries yet was only called for no-balls when post dismissal replays unearthed his indiscretion. Similarly in Adelaide, Ishant Sharma overstepped 16 times, yet was only called once after Aaron Finch asked for his LBW dismissal to be reviewed. If there was any doubt that umpires ignored front foot no balls, there shouldn’t be any more.
2. Shaun Marsh claims unwanted history.
27.6 dragged on! Ashwin entices the drive and Marsh falls for it. This was nicely floated up, nice and wide, Marsh reaches out to force this through covers but doesn’t get to the pitch and ends up dragging back. India strike immediately after lunch. Shaun Marsh’s career against Ashwin: Five dismissals at an average of 1.60 59/3
Perhaps the most frustrating of Australia’s top-order, Shaun Marsh belied Justin Langer’s belief he is the best batsman in this country when he claimed a share of a record 130-years old. When he was bowled by Ravi Ashwin for two in the first innings he became the first Australian top order batsman to be dismissed for less than 10 in six consecutive innings. Given his seemingly unchallenged place in the Australian team, his 60 will be more than enough for the selectors to justify his position for some time to come.
3. Aaron Finch and the moving ball
Cameron White – SEN Radio 03.12.18
It’ll be a big challenge for him. I think the type of bowler that India are bringing out here like (Ishant) Sharma, (Mohammed Shami) and (Bhuvneshwar) Kumar – I think they can all bring the ball back into right-handed batter which is going to be a big challenge for Finchy. It’s not so good in a matchup sense, he’ll obviously be aware of that, he’s a smart player.
Despite his old mate Cameron White’s faith in Aaron Finch’s ability to overcome the swinging ball, at the completion of play in Adelaide it appeared anything but. Dismissed for a duck in the first innings by a swinging Ishant Sharma delivery , he was only spared the same ignominy in the second innings when his speculative review showed the Indian quick had overstepped.
4. Australia’s use of the DRS.
Tim Paine was quite rightly frustrated by the Decision Review System at the conclusion of the First Test but his teams use of the system has left a lot to be desired to. While the Australia were left to bemoan a few contentious DRS calls that went against them they only have themselves to blame for not seeking the Third Officials intervention in a pair of important moments.
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