Brisbane Test, Australia v India – Day One: Initiation of heat!

New Test, new ground, new captain – the subtly changing face of Australian cricket.

It seems it’s that time again: once a decade or so there is a subtle shift, like a tectonic plate moving ever so slightly where the effect will only be felt fully at a later time by way of the earth quaking to some degree.

Not that I have written Michael Clark off as the leader of this unit; but the shift is happening, as if in slow motion, disguised as a temporary measure.

And a young man, relatively inexperienced but with acknowledged cricket-savvy, will now find out the full weight of the coveted position he has been handed.

The first day of the second Test between Australia and India started with the realisation by all in attendance that the weather forecast had been spot on: high temperatures with high humidity.

The conditions at the ground were oppressive quite early according to the various media commentators plying their trade pre-game.

Newly appointed captain Steve Smith, the third youngest ever for Australia, started the day by losing the coin toss, a feat often performed by his predecessor, and therefore not to be taken as indicative of fates to come. Thus his abilities would be put immediately to the test out on the ground as he directed his team in an attempt to undermine India’s first innings.

The day was marked with both highlights and lowlights before it even began. Steve Smith received his official captain’s blazer from former Australian captain Mark Taylor: debutant bowler Josh Hazelwood was presented with his prized ‘Baggy Green’ by former fast bowler Glen McGrath: and for the first time since 2002, two brothers were about to play in the Australian Test team side by side – Shaun and Mitchell Marsh. On the other side of the ledger was yet another reason to pause for a minute of reflection and respect in memory of those affected by the fatal siege which had taken place the previous day in Sydney and captured headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons.

Cricket – as a cornerstone of this sports loving nation – is an escape for most from the mundane and pedestrian lives we all often feel we lead. But in recent weeks, even this has been shaken by reality and affected by the cruel workings of the world around us, leaving no entity immune to its reach.

Having battled through the inevitable emotion that was always going to surround the first test in Adelaide, this was a sombre and all too familiar beginning to the game’s proceedings.

With players in place and batsmen at the crease it was time to move on. This was a new Test and a new ground to act as the stage for the new captain who had been given, by selectors, new, young additions to the bowling attack.

The experience of Mitchell Johnson saw the opening ball bowled and he was supported at the opposite end in the opening overs by debutant Josh Hazelwood. Mitchell Starc came on in the seventh over, replacing Johnson, and by the tenth over, Mitch Marsh was also in the attack.

With young firepower like this, on a pitch which had started the day with a tinge of green and a hint of moisture, much was expected in the way of bounce and movement. Unfortunately, the pressure from the attack was just not up to scratch and while not scoring freely or fast, the Indian openers were not put to any great test.

In Mitch Marsh’s third over, Dhawan was caught behind off a poor shot for 24 – India 1/56.

Pujara was the new batsman and not known for his ability to play swing. He looked uncomfortable facing pace and the Australians had every right to feel they had now started as they meant to go on.

Sadly for the hosts, Vijay was dropped on 36 by Shaun Marsh with a chance at third slip that really should have been taken by a fielder of his calibre, and that’s where the momentum shifted. India was 1/60.

It was a pedestrian first session and the runs were coming, but not quickly. By the lunchbreak, India was 1/89, the Australians had used five bowlers – including a spinner – and the heat was having an effect on everyone out there.

The second session of the day saw an amazing string of events that belies, to some extent, the professional training these athletes are now afforded. The heat was causing distress among the bowlers and in some cases, injury.

Mitch Marsh left the field early in the session with a suspected right hamstring strain while both Starc and Johnson needed special treatment with cold cloths and ice packs during the drinks breaks.

Despite being down one bowler, Australia managed to contain India’s scoring although perhaps not pressuring the opposition to the extent it would have liked. India reached one hundred with Vijay on 54 and answers were being sought.

Then Pujara was gone! Out for just 18 from a ball clipping his helmet through to the keeper – Unlucky! But that is cricket and Josh Hazelwood’s first Test wicket was celebrated well, if not with a little relief.

India 2/100 and Hazelwood 1/18 with a new spring in his step.

While spirits seemed to lift on the field, this was short-lived. Eventually Starc would succumb to what seemed to be mild heat stroke and also leave the field.

By mid-afternoon the fielders were looking distressed and lead-footed until Hazelwood struck for his second Test wicket and had Kohli caught behind for just 19.

India 3/137.

With Australia now two bowlers down Hazelwood was taking on the load and seemed to have found some rhythm.

By the time the tea break came India was 3/151 with Vijay on a tantalising 73. The visitors had scored just 62 runs in the second session and Australia had taken two wickets despite losing two bowlers.

The final session of the day established just which team would walk away most satisfied.

Marsh missed another catch off Vijay at cover to give him another life which would prove costly by day’s end.

Eleven boundaries in ten overs saw Vijay reach his century and Rahane bringing up his 50 in a big turnaround.

The assault on Nathan Lyon’s bowling finally saw Vijay try too much and he was stumped on 144.

India 4/261.

By day’s end, the overall view of the game felt like that of a war zone.

Hazelwood had succumbed to cramp and couldn’t finish his over having to leave the field. Starc returned to the field but was unable to bowl.

The new ball was taken for the final few overs to little effect: Johnson was quick but not threatening and Warner had been added to the bowling list.

A very unusual day overall: Haddin took all four catches; there were two or three dropped chances and despite what initially seemed to be a slow pace, the Indians finished on 4/311 – the highest score by a visiting team on the opening day of a Test at the Gabba.

The day could certainly be termed an initiation of fire (well at least extreme heat) for new captain Steve Smith and it remains to be seen what sort of bowling attack he has left at his disposal, but suffice to say Day Two should be of great interest as Day One could only be termed as bizarre!

About Jill Scanlon

Blues fan and sports lover. Development through sports advocate; producer, journalist and news follower. Insanely have returned to p/t study - a Masters of International & Community Development. Formerly with ABC International / Radio Australia in Melbourne.

Comments

  1. Luke Reynolds says:

    Fantastic wrap up of Day 1 Jill. Amazing how poorly the Australians coped with the heat. Didn’t ever seem to be an issue in the recent series in the UAE.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Thanks , Jill it was at times a bewildering and frustrating days cricket , well played
    Vijay

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