Australia v India – First Test, Day 1: Heavyweight Bout Begins




Adelaide, Day 1


India 6/233 (Kohli 74; Starc 2/49) v Australia



The Ashes may have all the tradition of the contests between the old enemies but, these days, the real heavyweight stoushes are the Australia v India series, whether they be here or on the sub-continent. Indeed, the battles are becoming more frequent, for it seems as if India were in Australia only a couple of years ago. Which, in fact, they were. Having attended four pink-ball Tests in Adelaide, this year the ongoing post-lockdown fug and the proximity of Christmas confined me to viewing the opening blows of this bout on television. As the teams traded jabs, I was of the mind that up until the moment that Ajinkya Rahane called “Yes, No” (and possibly “Oh, shit!”) and gifted Australia the prized wicket of Virat Kohli, India were on top in this most enthralling of contests. But the senseless dismissal of the Indian skipper, who had hitherto appeared well set and relatively unperturbed by the Australian attack, unexpectedly provided a breach in the batting line-up, which the home team had no hesitation in attacking.


Earlier, Australia had landed the first punch, courtesy of a second-ball Starc in-swinger which powered through Prithvi Shaw’s lax defence and onto the stumps. Before India could get their bearings and re-set, they were once again set back on their heels courtesy of a Pat Cummins snorter which, with all due respect, would have beaten even better players than Mayank Agarwal. India, having elected to bat, were 2/32 with the Aussies all over them like cheap suits.


Not unexpectedly, Cheteshwar Pujara, player of the series when India last visited, began the painstaking and patient task of rebuilding the innings with Kohli, who must relish the fact that his number 3 his so reliably obstinate. Despite his 43 from 160 balls, I thought Pujara never really looked his old self. This was particularly true when facing the wily off-spin of Nathan Lyon, who cajoled a few false strokes from Pujara. It appeared only a matter of time before “Gary” would get his man, and so it proved when he was beaten by some extra bounce and snapped up by Marnus Labuschagne at leg gully. India, having absorbed the early blows and blunted the new pill, were now 3/100. Although the run-rate was painfully slow, this bout was now evenly poised.


Rahane, so often spoken of as India’s next captain, looked determined to build a big innings with the current leader. For the most part, he looked unharried in laying the foundations of doing so. At 3/188, with Kohli having effortlessly worked his way to 74, India had less than an hour to navigate under the Adelaide Oval lights and subsequently take the points on the first day. Alas, it was not to be. In a moment of confusion, Rahane drove to mid-off, called “yes”, and then called “no”, as Josh Hazlewood fielded the ball. His throw to Lyon at the non-striker’s end found an unhappy Kohli stranded. It was a sucker-punch alright. On such pivotal moments do Test matches turn.


Having been gifted this most prized of scalps, just prior to the second ball being taken, the Australian team suddenly had their tails up. Rahane (42) was trapped on the crease, plum in front to Starc.  Hanuma Vihari followed soon after, courtesy of yet another new-ball lbw. It was left to Saha and Ashwin to absorb everything that the Australians could throw at them which, admirably, they did until stumps.


This was an enjoyable, old-fashioned style of day’s play to open what will be an enthralling test series. Almost treacle-like was the 233 runs at 2.6 runs per over, as was Australia’s over-rate (12 overs in the first hour!!!). Australia’s bowling looks on-song and settled, with debutant Cameron Green able to offer some valuable overs of relief to the quicks. Lyon still looks to be at the peak of his powers as he marches toward 400 wickets, and Starc and Hazlewood keep on keeping on. The batting might be another story, but right now the points easily lie with Australia, as I reckon the wicket will become easier to bat on after this first day. If the Indian tail can be mopped up early, and they can withstand what promises to be a ferocious onslaught at the beginning of their innings, the Australians will be well placed.


Better placed certainly than Ajinkya Rahane, who might be well advised to put much consideration and thought into his apology to the skipper, lest he run the risk of being on the wrong end of a Virat fisticuff.




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About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Daryl Schramm says

    Beautifully written Darren. It was indeed a slow but absorbing day. My clunky effort (to be posted) took well over two hours. This just flows like a graceful Kohli cover drive. Love it.

  2. Spot on Smokie. I dipped in and out of the first two sessions before a dinner commitment took me away from the always compelling last session under lights.
    Surprised myself by being engaged. The players looked to enjoy fair dinkum cricket after the endless hit and giggle. I fear the fizz will go out of the bottle after Kohli departs. He is magnetic and demands the best from team mate and opponent alike.
    More please.

  3. Enjoyed your summary and analysis Smokie, and suspect I speak on behalf of many local pubs in saying that you and your mates are missed!

    I know he has his critics and his form hasn’t been strong, but Starc’s two wickets are why I’d always pick him: a left-armer who can swing the ball back into the right-hander at pace.

    Looking forward to Day 2.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Great summary of what was an absorbing days play Smokie. How tough has it been watching events this year on TV that you’d normally go to? I instantly thought of you when the Adelaide Test started.

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