SCG Test, Australia v India – Day One: Australian Top Order Flays India

The new era in Indian cricket finally began today with skipper Virat Kohli being the most capped player at 33 caps in the side, and the average age just 26.5 compared to Australia’s 29.5.

There were wholesale changes made – Dhawan, Pujara, Ishant, and obviously Dhoni made way for Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Wriddhiman Saha. It is the Kohli way. He believes in trying out every option available, as he did with Karn Sharma in Adelaide, instead of dying wondering.

On the field though, it was just old wine in a new bottle. Bowlers still erred on the shorter side, slip catches were still dropped, leg slip was still in place, and Australia got off to a blazing start. To be fair to Kohli, luck wasn’t on his side.

Luck smiled on Australia right from the toss, which could well be a deciding factor on a flat SCG pitch. It was as if someone from above was driving their fate. Australia raced to 33 in four overs with four boundaries and a wide from Yadav that went for four. Rogers looked good from the start. He was moving nicely in the crease and hit some lovely drives, with the straight drive off Kumar in the fifth over standing out.

Warner on the other hand wasn’t at his best, yet scored at a fair clip. His feet movement was iffy, he almost inside edged Yadav onto his stumps. And in the next over Shami induced his outside edge, only for it to go begging between slips and gully for a four.

Shami once again created a chance, and this time the outside edge of Rogers’ bat did carry to second slip. However, young KL Rahul, put down an absolute sitter. The next ball was duly dispatched to the boundary by Rogers, bringing Australia’s fifty up in just eight overs.

Warner too found his groove soon as he dispatched Yadav for three consecutive boundaries to end the bowler’s second spell. Ashwin brought some control to the proceedings, at least from one end. He was consistent, bowled just one bad ball in his eight overs before lunch – conceding just 17 runs, and with a bit of luck, could have had both the batsmen.

However, that was not to be as both the batsmen reached their half centuries, with Rogers getting there in the last over before lunch as Australia sat pretty at 123-0. There was a very poignant moment, when on reaching 63, Warner took his helmet off and kissed the SCG turf to pay his respect to his mate Phillip Hughes who fell at this very ground over a month ago. All of the SCG stood up to applaud, and one could clearly see his eyes were moist.

Warner crunched Yadav through the point region twice to get going after tea. Yadav was replaced by Kumar who got driven twice to the boundary by Rogers. Even Ashwin, India’s best bowler so far was first reverse swept behind point for four by Warner before being taken for 13 runs in one over.

Virat Kohli didn’t know whom to turn to as Warner and Rogers piled up their highest opening stand in what was going to be their last home test together. With Warner on 96, Kohli turned to Shami. However, the first ball was on the leg side and Warner gleefully pulled it in the air towards the square leg fence to reach his third hundred of the series, and 12th overall.

Australia reached 200 in just the 45th over. Things were looking ominous for India when out of the blue, Ashwin produced the breakthrough as Warner closed the face of his bat a little early on a ball that pitched on leg and straightened, to end up giving a simple catch to second slip.

In the next over, Rogers inside edged Shami onto the stumps just five agonising runs short of his hundred. India sensed an opportunity with two new batsmen at the crease.  Smith shouldn’t be termed new, at least in this series. He has looked set the moment he has come out to bat. Today was no different as he lofted Ashwin over mid-wicket on the fourth ball he faced.

Watson on the other hand, looked circumspect. He played and missed outside off, and couldn’t get Ashwin off the square. However, the Indian pacers weren’t consistent outside off stump to induce a false shot and kept giving him a loose ball every now and then to work on the leg side.  Kohli even tried to buy a wicket as he threw the ball to Raina minutes before tea. But both Smith and Watson didn’t do anything silly as Australia took tea on 242-2.

Smith just milked India in the final session notching up another half century. Kohli still had slips and gullys and urged his seamers to bowl outside off, but Smith would shuffle right across, tempting them to bowl on the stumps. They would succumb to the temptation only to get whipped towards the leg side fence. Watson, who hit his first boundary off his 65th ball, scored more fluently as his innings progressed providing good support to Smith in what was another big partnership of the day.

Even the second new ball couldn’t bring India any rewards as their main strike bowler with the new ball; Bhuvneshwar Kumar looked completely spent by then. On the penultimate ball of the day the opportunity arrived as Yadav got Watson nicking behind, but Ashwin failed to latch on to a high catch. So India’s day started with a drop catch and ended with another drop, and in between Australia took complete control of the match with two big partnerships.

At 348-2, they are well on course to pass 500 for the fourth time in four first innings in this series.

 

Stumps Day One:

Australia 348-2 (90 Overs)
Smith 82*, Watson 61*

Warner 101
Rogers 95

India
Ashwin 1-88
Shami 1-58

 

 

Read more of Viraj’s cricket writing at Criczest.com and for more Almanac coverage of India’s tour to Australia, catch up with our other cricket reports here.

 

 

About Viraj Deshpande

A 22 year old journalism grad and an absolute cricket tragic who believes test cricket is greater than everything else under the Sun. Viraj spends his afternoons-evenings-late nights-early mornings running criczest.com.

Comments

  1. About time we had the visitor’s perspective (even if Viraj is a home-grown product (?)).

    Well done mate, and hopefully we see more from you on this match!

  2. Thanks Steve.
    Writing from my living room couch in India. The only downside is that have to wake up at 4 in the morning for this. No regrets though. Love test cricket. Looking forward to the rest of the test. 700 plays 600 i reckon.

  3. Great to have an Indian Indian perspective written from India. Welcome Viraj. Thanks for the comprehensive report. JTH

  4. G’day Viraj,
    Good on you for getting involved here. Taking a chance. Well played.
    All the best with your criczest.
    It would be great to have your perspective here in the future.

  5. Thanks John and Davis for the kind welcome and the comments about the piece. Looking forward! :)

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic wrap of Day 1 Viraj, and welcome to the Almanac! Hope to hear more from you and will definetely check out Criczest.com.

  7. Thanks Luke. Cheers!

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