Australia v India – Sydney, Day 1: India continue on their merry way

AUSTRALIA V INDIA SYDNEY DAY 1

 

India are 2 – 1 as we enter the final test of what has been a great series and in the long term will be seen as the series that changed the face of cricket for the better.

 

Kohli will be going in for the kill there is no doubt about it. He would love to go home 3 -1.

 

What is in the Australian selectors’ minds? Two changes Marnus Labuschagne and Peter Handscomb for Aaron Finch and Mitchell Marsh.  The changes are justified and the fielding will be brilliant but……… what has Handscomb done this series to justify his selection other than his fielding.

 

Personally, I had Labuschagne in my original team because he does give you an extra bowling option even if it not his forte. Has taken wickets in the two matches he has played.

 

India also make two changes with Rahul, given another chance, and Yadav coming in for the two Sharmas.

 

Warm and steamy as we roll up to the ground and winning the toss will prove vital.  Had a relative ask me last night has anybody written a book on “Winning the toss in Test matches”.  He reckons it would make a good read.

 

Kohli does win the toss and there looks to be some life in the wicket given the steamy conditions. He elects to bat. Is a bit of a gambler is our Virat. Hazlewood and Starc have movement and bounce and it is not surprising when Rahul (9) is well caught in slips from Hazlewood.  India 1/10.

 

Drinks already? This is definitely a blight on the game and no wonder we have to play extra time and the umpires do nothing about it.

 

Both batsmen have settled in well and are now playing their shots with confidence and despite the bounce are moving into their drives assuredly.

 

Pujara as usual is no fuss and lets the game flow while second gamer Agarwal has played some fine shots including the stroke of the day between cover and mid-off.

 

Another delay this time the perpetual hand injuries that the Indian batsmen seem to suffer. Five minutes is lost.

 

Cummins is causing the stoic Pujara some problems and a lesser mortal might be concerned. It is a fine over but Pujara is still there and that is his wont.

 

Both bowlers (Starc and Cummins) are now making the ball fly and forcing false strokes. It is good cricket and a good contest.

 

Tim Paine has kept the pressure up all through the session.  I can’t recall having seen batsmen dancing so much as these two are such is the bowling making them play back and in the air at the same time.

 

Great bowling for little reward.

 

Working on my top six players for the series at the moment and would love to hear from readers of their thoughts.  Top player number 1 etc. Etc.

 

  1. Jasprit Bumrah (Ind)
  2. Cheteshwar Pujara (Ind)
  3. Nathan Lyon (Aus)
  4. Virat Kohli (Ind)
  5. Patrick Cummins (Aus)
  6. Rishhabh Pant (Ind) & Tim Paine (Aus) equal. Both have been outstanding for their teams.

 

Probably the latest that Nathan Lyon has entered the attack with only 15 minutes to lunch.  Pujara uses his feet.

 

A fine morning play has concluded with India on 1/69 Agarwal 42 and Pujara 16. Hazlewood has the wicket.

 

India continue on their merry way after lunch with Mayank Agarwal playing some fine shots and showing that he is a player of the future. Wonder if we can import some of these players from the sub-continent to Australia.  It would make selection of the team easier.  He reaches his 50 of 96 balls and 5 fours.  Meanwhile Pujara continues to hold the fort at the other end.

 

Agarwal goes down and straight drive Lyon for 6.  The hundred run partnership is up and they are starting to look ominous. Pujara has made only 27 in the partnership but how valuable has he been throughout the series.

 

The batsmen are now in full flight and have made 44 runs in 40 minutes.

 

Agarwal takes to Lyon, hits him for a couple of wonderful sixes but Lyon has the last laugh when Agarwal (77) skies the next big hit and Starc takes it on the boundary. India 2/126 and Mayank Agarwal has thrown a century away.

 

After the early onslaught on him Lyon has now put a brake on scoring and the batsmen. Mind you it is looking very much déjà vu Melbourne with India’s champion duo trying to take control of the game in their own terms.

 

Continuing the flow of the series the crowd are closely connected to the game and are watching with great interest.  Runs are coming in a trickle after Agarwal’s onslaught.  This has been Kohli’s tactics throughout the matches.  Nothing flamboyant from his batsmen (Pant and Agarwal excepted) but just concentrate on building a score that puts the opposition out of the equation.

 

Been keeping a tally on the orange/red shirts entering the play arena and at 3pm it has been 22 times. Which probably equates to 7 or 8 minutes.  No wonder a day’s play goes past the allotted time.

 

Labuschagne comes on and this will be interesting.  He moves in quite quickly for a slow bowler and two balls in a row go just as quickly to the boundary.  Pujara reaches another fifty this time of 134 balls with five fours.  The leggie goes for 12 in his first over. Not a great start but he needs to watch Lyon amble in and not rush it.  Will he get a second over?

 

Kohli is pure artistry as he off drives Lyon for four. The stroke is dry before it leaves the environment of the pitch and is etched in your mind for ever. Rembrandt at his masterful best.

 

At tea the Indians have lost another wicket but are 2/177 Kohli (23) and Pujara (61).

 

My pet aversion at the cricket is back.  The lemmings have invaded the field to get their one moment of fame? So be it but this GOM will not have a bar of it at any price.  I wonder what the price is?

 

The best wicket taker of the series T. Break claims another as Kohli (23) flicks at one from Hazlewood for Paine’s sure hands to hold.  India 3/180.How many is that after a break in play?

 

I have pondered over Cheteshwar Pujara since day 1 in Adelaide and to me he would make a perfect Minister in an Australian Government. He watches, listens, stays alert, does not panic and acts.  Do we have anyone of that ilk?

 

Without taking wickets the fast men have had a good day.  They have been quick, bounced the batsmen and controlled where the ball should land.

 

One also might say this is a fine Indian batting line-up. Throughout the series they have been able to blunt the attack (with the exception of Perth) and this is reputed to be the best attack in the world.

 

12th man Peter Siddle seems to be having a lot to say out there. Surely his role is the “fill-in” fielder and not the orchestrater of team movements.  I realise how passionate he is about the game but the 12th man is the 12th man is he not?

 

4.20pm and the orange/red brigade have infiltrated the playing arena 30 times during play. And still the fast men pepper the batsmen.

 

The much SKW-maligned Starc bowls short to Pujara and he hits two cracking fours, one straight and one backward of point.  He is now on 93.

 

Starc finally gets his wicket when he gets one to lift on Rahane (18) and Paine takes another catch. India 4/228 and drinks are taken.

 

Vihari, I like, he stands taller than most of the Indians when he bats and he opens his account with a fine drive for four through cover-point.

 

Have been impressed with Paine’s field placings throughout the series and it continues today not giving the batsmen many opportunities to score.

 

33,678 people have attended the day’s play and the majority would have enjoyed what they have seen. Interestingly there are probably less Indians at the game than in Melbourne.

 

Pujara reaches a wonderful century for his team when he hits Starc square of the wicket for four. His century has come from 199 balls and included 15 fours.

 

Labuschagne comes on for his second spell and he is giving the ball more air and it is a better over. I think nerves might have troubled him earlier in the day and he could not finish the over quick enough. Still a bit loose but time will tell whether he has it or not.

 

Lyon has been steady but there is not the roar that accompanied him in Adelaide and Perth. He is not getting the dip and turn that he had in the first two tests.

 

Lights are on as the powers that be acknowledge that the game will go on past the allotted time. There have been 37 interruptions to play at this point in time.  Have watched the Indian physio through this last incident and he is on the ground within seconds of the incident. I call them interruptions as it allows the fielding side to meander around the ground like Brown’s cows chewing their cuds a la Ken Mackay of old. How Australia would like a player of his ability now although he probably would not get a game because he would not have fitted the mould.

 

No wonder there is still great concern about time wasting in Test cricket.

 

Both batsmen are punishing the short ball that is not getting the lift as it did earlier in the day. Pujara has batted nearly throughout the day in supreme control and has not given a chance. As I write he has a wild swing at Starc. It is late.

 

Vihari is playing some delightful shots full of elegance like some of the great Indian players of the past.

 

The fast men continue to bowl short.  Have they over done it?  Yes, many of the balls bowled have just gone through to the keeper without any intention of hitting them from the batsmen. It is only tiring the bowlers and when you have three of the four bowlers doing it their energy must be sapped.  Even the batsmen are tiring.

 

At stumps India 4/303 with Pujara on 130 and Vihari on 39.  An enjoyable day’s play with India on top at the close and will be looking to push on tomorrow for a big score.

 

By the way the orange and red interrupted the play on 39 occasions which probably equals 20 – 25 minutes.

 

 

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About Bob Utber

At 75 years of age, 'Citrus Bob' Utber is doing what he wanted to do as a 14-year old: writing, talking and watching sport. How good is that!?! He lives in Mildura with his wife and 'furry kids'; a labradoodle "Freddy Flintoff" and a groodle named "Chloe on Flinders".

Comments

  1. Colin Ritchie says:

    Your top six is pretty well spot on CB. I’d perhaps change the order slightly. Pujara has to be no.1, he has been the dominant player IMHO. He is the rock, that solid foundation, the accumulator who provides the basis that enables the bowlers to attack right from the start. And of course, Bumrah has been able to do that so wonderfully well so I’d slot him in as no. 2. The other positions can remain the same though Argawal in the space of a couple Tests is not far away from consideration. Love reading your reports Citrus!

  2. Finally an interesting day 1 of a test match with India on the attack. I fear Warnie is correct with his opinions on Australia’s attack. India’s, led by Bumrah, is way superior. Let’s hope Bumrah dosen’t continue making the Aussie batsmen look like bums when they finally get to bat. All my tricks to get a wicket failed eg switching channels to get a weather forecast or going to the loo. Anyway, full marks to the Indians. Soon the ball will be in Australia’s court to keep in the match..

  3. E.regnans says:

    Thanks very much for your report, Citrus Bob.
    Your views and observations from the grounds offer much to consider. (Your point about the orange vest infestation is a striking example – something I am not aware of being raised in many other places).

    As I have stated elsewhere, after years of boorish behaviour from players and officials, the events of Cape Town acted for me as a kind of circuit-breaker.
    Remember the presentation ceremony for the Ashes at last years’ Sydney Test?
    Remember Australian taunts at the 50-over World Cup?
    I remember an article on cricinfo last March: http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/22684273/problem-australian-line-control.


    I do love the game of Test cricket.
    As a game it used to be terrific.
    That is, the pure game of it; without the distractions of orange vests and physiotherapists and ground announcers. The situations. The considerations. Whether to place a short leg. The prospect of the new ball. Team selection. And maybe one day I will get back to it. Maybe I will find a way back through the detritus, maybe strength of feeling will return; a feeling and a love of the game itself.
    But maybe not.

    I used to feel strongly enough to regularly write stories about Test cricket.
    But for now that feeling has gone.
    I’m not sure whether it will return.

    Your stories remind me of cricket.
    They remind me of good and bad aspects of the game.
    But they are reminders I am very happy to read.

    P.S. it is curious that many people bagged the MCG pitch for lifelessness after Day 1, but I’m not aware of many doing the same for the SCG pitch. Is this a case of groupthink?

  4. Luke Reynolds says:

    CB, I agree with Col, Pujara just ahead of Bumrah. Otherwise your top 6 is spot on.
    Surely in this day and age drinks breaks are redundant? Surely we could have water run out to batsmen, fielders and umpires between overs, every over? Over rates are hurting Test cricket every bit as much as ordinary pitches.

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