Australia v India – Adelaide, Day 5: In The End

India 250 & 307, defeated Australia 235 & 291 (by 31 runs).

In the end, the winner was India.

But the other winner was Test cricket. And how could it not be? This fascinating, glorious game – indecipherable to those who do not know it, but such a joy to those for whom the game is as familiar as an old pair of running shoes.

Amazingly, pre-match Australia were the bookies’ favourites ($2.40). If I were ever to bet on cricket, this may well have been the time, for truth be told, I did not think Australia were a chance. And, in the end, they were not.

Amongst the detritus of two sub-300 Adelaide scores, there were positives: Marcus Harris looks for all the world like a Test opener (although Finch is another story); the fast-bowling trio looks strong (although Starc looks to be struggling); the fielding is crisp; Nathan Lyon is one hell of a Test cricketer; Australia could have done so much worse than appoint a fighter like Tim Paine as skipper.

Just look at Nathan Lyon: 8 wickets for the match, and 62 runs (batting at number 10) without being dismissed. Is it any wonder Mike Hussey passed the sprig of wattle on to him?

Australia will be disappointed to lose a match that was alive well into the fifth day. But in terms of the series going forward, the team will believe (like I do) that this Indian team has a soft underbelly. The batting has an IPL-like flair that could easily be routed on its day (witness the first session of this Test), and the vaunted seam attack has a sameness about it. Off-spinner Ravi Ashwin is a star, but do his fourth innings figures of 3/92 (when everything was set up for him) tell an Australian story?

In the end, more than any other player, Cheteshwar Pujara was the difference. His two innings were an instruction of patience, which the Australian team would have done well to take on board. Why would Aaron Finch play an expansive drive on the third ball he faced? Why would Shaun Marsh flay at a wide Ashwin lolly easily let go? Why would Peter Handscomb tamely pull a ball to mid-wicket?

The series is not over. Yet. But Virat Kohli will not miss out again. And Australia’s brittle batting line-up will have to work harder than they did here to make inroads. It will be tough, but not impossible.

And for me, it might it be worth giving Mitchell Starc (whose figures were flattering) a rest in an effort to fire him out of his fug. There may not be a long line of batsmen knocking down the selection door, but there are a few bowlers worth considering.

This was a wonderful match, even though I thought India were in control for the whole exercise. But Australia still had their chances, and with a little more luck could have taken them. And, in the end, isn’t that how Test cricket – this stupendous, operatic, labyrinthine mass of a game is supposed to work?



About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Mark Duffett says

    I reckon you have the right of it, Smokie. Nothing else compares.

  2. Yes, Smokie.
    That was magnificent.

    Humans struggling.
    Making mistakes, trying again.

    I enjoyed watching members of this Australian team; they seemed to embrace their struggle with humility.
    Members of the Indian team, especially V Kohli, seemed to do anything but.

  3. Smokie well said re test cricket,for mine,Starc looks out of form and underdone this sports science crap re resting our quicks last shield game did Starc and Aust cricket no favours what so ever.Finch incredible selection to open and how poor was the umpiring ? We should have run guide dogs and a cane out on to the ground

  4. Jeez Rulebook you are a bit harsh on the Umpires. This Test made me glad for DRS. Lucky Col Egar never had to worry about having his decisions reviewed. Lyon and Ashwin into the pads with the ball ballooning up into???? A microfibre of glove, or chest as the bat comes through to make a noise on the pad? Pujara’s LBW not playing a shot when he was a long way down the track looked out to me as it did to Nigel Long. Not Pujara’s fault that he got called back 3x.
    The DRS did fairness a big favour this test, but all the overturned decisions I saw looked out on first sight. Worked more in India’s favour this test, but rub of the green evens out over a series. If you reckon the umpiring is bad, how come Finch doesn’t even know that he didn’t hit it? Bloke 22 yards away can hardly know better.
    India will be better for the run, while the Australians played up to their capacity to my eye. Rebuilding time and no point reshuffling deck chairs. India 4-0.
    Foxtel commentators highly skilled at turd polishing.

  5. PB for mine the umpires were using the drs I’ll give it out and then you can review it ( bizarre by Finch not to ) and the not even looking re no balls not good enough these are supposed to be the elite panel

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I hadn’t seen a ball of this season’s play so far. Like many I guess, I thought I’d written off the men’s national level stuff until further notice. Think Blighty’s rat’s toss bag summed it up.

    However, I was drawn back for this Test. Whether it was just because it was Adelaide, I’m not sure. But I watched the first two sessions (on Seven) on Thursday intently and kept in touch with proceedings thereafter, either on Seven or ABC radio.

    Fired up the ABC commentary post-lunch yesterday after hearing from a mate that he’d just come off his highest score ever (49, caught in the deep “a la Warnie”) at age 50,

    Yep, cricket still matters after all. But like the rekindling of a failed personal relationship, the doubts will still linger.

    Thanks Smokie.

  7. We played poorly in parts and yet nearly won. There’s the positive. I was quite confident we would get the runs. We just needed Marsh to go on and make 100. Alas it wasn’t to be.

    We keep waiting for Kohli to have a big knock, but his record against Australia is very average. We might have his number? I hope so. Starc will be crucial for the rest of the summer. I like the look of Harris. And if Finch can get a start we might enjoy some wonderful plundering.

    Indians are definitely beatable. I’m sure we will knock them off this summer. The question is can we beat them often enough to win the trophy? Probably not.

    Enjoyed the fight in the Australian team. Enjoyed the Warner-less team make-up. Enjoyed the lack of cheap talk and the absence of spineless bravado. Just enjoyed the struggle.

  8. Daryl Schramm says

    Great summary Smokie. Agree with everything, especially;
    “This fascinating, glorious game – indecipherable to those who do not know it” Que MLB media on the Cummins runout,
    “If I were ever to bet on cricket, this may well have been the time,” I had similar thoughts on the eve of the match.
    “Indian team has a soft underbelly. The batting has an IPL-like flair that could easily be routed on its day (witness the first session of this Test). 2nd session on 4th day another example, or was that pure arrogance? I give Plant credit for taking on Lyon early though.
    DRS scenarios were a positive in most instances. Nigel could have said not out, we review and are subsequently buggered. To his credit, he kept sticking his finger up. I did , however, witness much overstepping at the ground that was not called at the time. That needs to be rectified.

  9. Australia’s batting is still brittle – needs much improvement. However it would appear there is very little pressure from batsmen yelling “pick me” around. Hopefully the lads can find some consistency for the side can’t keep relying on the tail to wag. Apart from the first session of day 1, I considered the first 3 days somewhat dreary but days 4 and 5 were most enthralling.

  10. Smokie- you captured it very well. Given how regularly bat dominates ball in cricket I love it when the reverse occurs and we witness a compelling contest which is in degrees of doubt throughout.

    Not much commentary yet here on the new broadcasters. I enjoyed Channel 7’s offerings with Alison Mitchell’s sunny disposition and Tim Lane’s astute insights and appropriate sense of theatre highlights for me.

  11. Lyon’s a fighter, isn’t he Smokie? Watched his battle against Pujara and Kohli and then Rahane the next day and thought it was one of the unluckiest innings of bowling I had ever seen. The returns came, eventually.

    Yeah, not sure where to with the batting – patience maybe, but with a view to who will likely be in the team over the next 1-5 years and who provides leadership on and off the field.

    And as for the umpiring, I’m all for them giving batsmen out when they refuse to use their bat and am not convinced the ball tracker had the point of impact correct. Gillespie, who I normally don’t mind, saying ‘he’s guessing there, there’s no way he can be sure’ surprised me. 1. umpires are always just guessing when it comes to LBWs and 2. they don’t have to be sure when the batsman doesn’t offer a shot. Give ’em out, make them review, might encourage use of the willow in hand.

  12. Dave, great comment about lbw decisions. Make them use their bats. I watch on Fox but really miss the comments from Lawry, Greig, Chappelli and especially Benaud. Mike Hussey was a superb player but unimpressed with his commentary – I find his voice annoying.

  13. Following on with my comments about cricket commentary it’s my very humble opinion that the late Richie Benaud was the grand master. Similarly Dennis Committee was the best AFL commentator, Peter Marker at SANFL, and Mel Cameron at Night Baseball. All were SPECIAL in Bruce McAvany parlance. For all that, let’s hope we see Australia continues its improvement in the upcoming tests.

  14. Peter Crossing says

    Smokie, thanks for the thoughtful comments on an absorbing Test match. Pujara was a worthy player of the match, just ahead of the herculean efforts of Lyon.
    Australia’s deficiencies had nothing to do with lack of the on-field approach recently so eloquently promoted by the boy in the bubble, Michael Clarke.
    Khawaja and Handscombe played poor shots in the second innings and Starc was wasteful with the new ball. Marsh flattered to deceive – again.
    Harris and Head are young and inexperienced at this level but definitely worthy of perseverance
    The DRS threatened to take over. Agree with Peter B re the lot of an umpire with the close brushes of the pad/bat/gloves and the really stretched forward front foot LBW decisions.
    Greg Baum’s comments about the match, including the Kohli factor, also summed it all pretty well.
    I attended the Not The Test Match Dinner in Adelaide where guest speakers Jason Gillespie and Harsh Bhogle provided astute comments not only about the current series but also into the future of game. Bhogle’s thoughts on the need for understanding of the differences between Indian and Australian culture at a personal level were particularly insightful, not only in the interaction between cricketers but also in the wider context.

  15. John Butler says

    Onya Smoke.

    I’m with Rulebook re Starc. He’s better after a decent run. May bode well for Perth.

    The batsmen have carried the can for the loss, but I reckon the bowlers should take their share of responsibility. It wasn’t an easy wicket to score on, yet twice in the match the Indian bats were let off the hook as the bowlers released the pressure. Indian bowlers didn’t do that. That proved to be the difference.

    Let’s see how the new Perth pitch plays.

  16. Luke Reynolds says

    Excellent wrap up of a fantastic Test match Smokie.
    India nowhere near the team on foreign shores they are at home. Like us.
    Khawaja’s horrible shot and dismissal in the second innings was the biggest disappointment for me, he seems to have avoided harsh scrutiny for it. Senior player now.

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