Hits and Misses – Australia v India Second Test

Australia bounced back from the their Adelaide Oval defeat to level the Border Gavaskar Trophy Series with a comprehensive 146 run Second Test victory in Perth. An imperious century from Virat Kohli and career best bolwing figures of 6-56 from Mohammad Sami, not enough for the Indians in the first test played at Optus Stadium. In the end Tim Paine’s men handled the conditions, presented by a misbehaving pitch that reminded many fans of the WACA surface it had replace, much better than the visitors to perfectly compliment a man of the match performance from Nathan Lyon.

So what were the Hits and Misses from Australia’s drought breaking Test Match victory?

1. Finch and Harris lay solid platform. 

The trouble batsmen would have with the pitch were not immediately apparent when Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris put on 112 for the first wicket of the match. After the fall of 39 more wickets, it would remain the only century-plus stand of the match and a testament to the efforts of Finch who’s aptitude against the swinging ball was in question at the commencement of the series and of Harris who continues to impress in just his second Test.

2. Captains trade unpleasant pleasantries.

I know he’s your captain but you can’t seriously like him as a bloke.

Tim Paine discussing Virat Kohli with  Murali Vijay 

With the stump mikes turned up for all to hear, the viewing audience was entertained by a running exchange between rival captains Tim Paine and  Virat Kohli. “If he messes it up, it’s 2-0,” Kohli said, referencing the series lead he is so determined to take at the Perth Stadium. Paine replied with a retort that sounded a little like: “You’ve got to bat first, big head”. The high point in the exchange though was the above quote when Paine addressed Murali Vijay upon Kohli’s second innings dismissal.

3. Australia’s bowlers out bat India’s.

After outperforming their Indian counterparts in the first Test to the tune of 156 runs to 40, the Aussie bowlers repeated the feat in the second scoring 71 to 11. The fragility of the Indian tail, in four innings they have effectively been six out all out, no doubt giving the Australians a great deal of confidence for the rest of the series.

4. The Goat continues to shine.

Making a mockery of The Pinch Hitters prediction that Josh Hazelwood would be the series leading wicket-taker, Nathan Lyon produced a man of the match performance in a Test that India entered without a frontline spinner. After his five first-innings wickets, there is no player in history with more five-wicket hauls against India. Then in the second innings, already having dismissed Virat Kohli more often than any other bowler, he removed the Indian Captain late on the fourth day to help Australia take a stranglehold on the match. 

1. Travis doesn’t use his Head.

We listed Travis Head as one of ‘hits’ of the First Test and he looked on his way to the same status when he had quickly moved to 58 in the First Innings. Yet, just as many fans thoughts may have turned to whether Head would translate this 50 into his first Test Century a slash outside off-stump saw him caught at Deep Third Man. This one dismissal is not on its own enough for his fall from First Test hero to Second Test  zero, but succumbing to the very same trap in the second innings is a major blunder for a player of his undoubted quality and doubly so given the delicate state of the game.

2. Handscomb catches Kohli – and controversy.

Peter Handscomb was certain that he had taken a clean catch to bring an end to Virat Kohli’s stunning First Innings Century but, despite the dismissal being ratified by the on-field umpires, his confidence has not been matched by many others in the days that have followed. While Harsha Bhogle described it best when he suggested that you could justify either decision you wanted to upon watching the replay, it hasn’t stopped a torrent outrage about whether Kohli should have been given out after the video was observed.

This position seeming to question why an umpires ‘soft decision’ should have so much bearing on a decision when the footage is so inconclusive. While the easy answer would be to ask those outraged where their anger was when Josh Hazelwood was dismissed to a similar catch in Adelaide, the more reasoned position is that this system is better than what we had prior. The calendar year prior to the introduction of the soft signal, each of 30 similar catches saw the batsman ruled not out each and every time. As messy as the Kohli situation was, it is 1000 times better than one that automatically gives him a reprieve, despite the on-field umpires believing him out, because technology has not yet advanced to a position to adequately capture these situations adequately on film.

3. No spinner costly for India.

While the Optus Stadium pitch did appear to be a godsend for pace bowlers, India’s decision to enter the match without a frontline spinner may well be one they’d like to have again after watching Nathan Lyon spin Australia to victory.

Colour from the second Test Match at Optus Stadium, between India and Australia. Pictured – The shaded “premium” seats look vacant around 1130am Photo by Daniel Wilkins

4. Perth’s request for the Boxing Day Test.

Optus Stadium Boss Mike McKenna made a very public pitch for consideration of the Burswood Venue when Cricket Australia next negotiated their contracts for the Boxing Day Test. While we at The Pinch Hitters respect aspirational people, this is something else altogether. The Boxing Day Test and Melbourne are as synonymous as bacon and eggs and if this isn’t enough for you, the last time India played Australia on Boxing Day 69,993 people filed into the MCG to watch while in comparison the first three days at Optus attracted just 59,545 in total! At least wait until your getting people through the gate before making outlandish claims Mike!

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