India v Australia: Bangalore Test, Day One – Who would have thought?

 

I’m usually a day behind the real action when it comes to watching recorded cricket. It is now Sunday and I’ve just finished watching day one of the second Test. Day two still awaits me.

The Indian crowds are indeed fascinating and their devotion to their cricket team surely surpasses all others. When the cameras swoop and their faces appear on the big screens their excitement is almost beyond belief. Young and old – they all react similarly, and it is a wondrous sight.

As India’s sixth wicket falls, with their heroes on just 176 runs, the camera turns its focus once again onto the crowd. The silence is the complete opposite to the usual Indian crowd’s exuberance but not as silent as when, earlier, Kohli had a little brain snap (again) allowing the ball to thump into his pad without offering a stroke, lbw for 12. The camera cannot lie. It tells its story: shock, horror, dismay and disbelief. The faces in the crowd are downcast, hands to mouth, hands to head, eyes darting, blinking, closing, even producing little teardrops, and we all wonder whether their beloved team will reach at least the anticipated 350 required on this more favourable pitch.

The Australian team lined up as expected. No change from the first Test. I would liked to have seen Khawaja in there at the expense of Shaun Marsh, but who am I to question the cricketing hierarchy? And, winning sides usually remain intact. The pitch was a vast improvement on Pune, so would Starc and Hazlewood play major roles this time round?

As in the first Test, Mitch takes our first wicket: Mukund out lbw for a duck, and his stint of 15 overs, including 5 maidens for 39 runs, sets the tone. Josh is used intermittently, 11 overs, 2 maidens for 42 runs and his accuracy and consistent line reinforces his standing in the team.

Today, the first of this second Test is all about spin. How surprising! Even though the pitch certainly doesn’t allow the ball to spin as much as in Pune, the bounce tells the story.

At 72-2 it is anyone’s game. Then Kohli. That Kohli dismissal started the rot. He is their Indian prince, their god, and with him gone, the team is without its rudder. At 88-3, what was Kholi thinking? The ball wasn’t spinning that much so how could he possibly have thought it was turning enough to go past leg stump? And what on earth was he thinking to ask for a review? It was so blatantly lbw.

Not long afterwards, Lyon – playing the game of his life – has his five-for, with just 47 runs against his name. He is back to his best. His sixth, adjudged out after a review, has Jadeja caught Smith off an inside edge, and at 188-8, the camera, again, focuses on the grandstands. Not a pretty sight. One run later and finally Rahul is gone. Off 205 balls his 90 runs have been hard fought and courageous whilst his teammates have collapsed around him. Lyon 7 wickets. Ishant Sharma comes in – gone. Lyon eight wickets. What a performance.

Steve O’Keefe, the star of the last Test, also had his moment in the Indian sun when Rahane came charging down the wicket, missed, and scrambled back with his bat, but all too late. Matthew Wade, fumbling the ball at first, managed to collects his wits and crash his hand into the stumps before the bat was down. SOK’s stint of 21 overs, 5 maidens and 40 runs for 1 wicket was worthwhile.

Lyon, today’s star, bowled 22.2 overs, including 4 maidens for a total of 50 runs. His 8 wickets were simply outstanding, and the best figures for any Australian against India – and in their home back yard!

The loss of the last 7 wickets for 101 runs finished the innings after 71.2 overs, for a meagre total of 189 runs.

Before our innings gets going, I’m thinking the same as presumably many others: if our spin can do it, then the Indians – experts in this area – surely can do the same.

They start their attack with Sharma and Umesh, to the surprise of the commentators, but this more formal approach lasts just five overs before Ashwin’s off breaks come into play. Warner has a life on 9, as a thick edge off Sharma is dropped by Rahane – a difficult but achievable catch, and then Jadeja, with his wonderful shock of thick black hair sitting atop short back and sides, replaces Umesh for the last remaining overs before stumps.

The Aussies have survived the 16 overs, with Warner on 23 and Renshaw on 15. Oh, how I like that Matty Renshaw! Not only is he a Queenslander, but he’s a star – already! We trail by 149 and things are looking good from Bangalore!

Interviewed by Michael Clarke at the end of the day’s play, Nathan Lyon said that, despite his seven previous wickets, he only really smiled when he took his eighth and the teams final wicket. Let’s hope he, and his mates, keep smiling!

Who would have thought that the Aussies would be in this position after day one?

About

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016. www.myswansloveaffair.com

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