SCG Test, Australia v India – Day Two: Rohit, Rahul Steady India but Australia Firmly on Top

They say the great misfortune in being an Indian batsman is you don’t get to play Indian bowling. At the moment Indian bowlers are hardly doing anything to prove that notion wrong. A juicy knee high full toss on middle stump was what greeted Steve Smith on 98*. Smith must have thought Yadav was his secret Santa delivering a late present as he gleefully put it away to the boundary to reach his fourth hundred of the series.

Yes the pitch was a road, the kookaburra hardly swings after the first 10 overs, and it was another hot day. But all those factors should ideally make a bowler stick to the off stump line rather than spray it all over. Kumar had the keeper standing up in his first spell of the day, Yadav reached his 100 even before Smith and it took him just 17 overs to get there. Whereas Ashwin, the only one getting help from the pitch, bowled the wrong line for most of the first session.

Only Shami bowled to the plan in the wicketless first hour which saw Australia scoring 48 untroubled runs. Shami started probingly outside off stump to Watson, even hit him on the helmet with a surprise bouncer and it wasn’t surprising he got rewarded as Watson pulled him from outside off giving Ashwin a simple catch at deep midwicket.  The score was 400-3 when Watson fell on 81, 19 short of what was a hundred for the taking and his partnership with Smith just four short of 200.

In the second hour, we got to see some rare discipline from India. The big improvement was Yadav, who stuck to the outside off stump line and that induced a false drive from Smith with feet going nowhere as he ended up nicking it to Saha on 117. With two new batsmen in Marsh and Burns at the crease, this was India’s chance. Kohli attacked with three close-in catchers for Ashwin. The opportunity came as Marsh edged one, but Vijay failed to latch on to a low catch on his right.

Marsh and Burns were tied down. They could only score five runs in 39 balls leading up to lunch after Smith was dismissed as India pulled things back to make it their session having conceded only 24 runs for two wickets after drinks. Although with Australia 420-4, the damage, one felt, was already done.

At the start of the afternoon session, there was definite intent from Australia. Burns who was on nought for 19 balls, skipped down the track to hit two boundaries to Ashwin – one thanks to a miss field at cover and the other a clean strike over mid-wicket – in the first over. In the second over which was bizarrely bowled by Raina, Marsh went downtown for a maximum.

After that it was just fill your boots time for two batsmen trying to cement their place in this Australian side, and book their seat on that plane to England for the Ashes next year. They did just that with both scoring fifties, and ensured another big partnership follows a couple of wickets as Australia strolled past their fourth 500 score of the series.

The most interesting bit of the session came late when Shami accounted for Marsh, and bringing Haddin to the wicket. Kohli and Haddin has had a bit of history this series, and the Indian skipper duly welcomed Haddin with a long stare and few choice words. The reply was a first ball six straight over Shami’s head as Australia took tea at 538-5. India were once again left waiting for a declaration.

After tea, Burns fell attempting to up the ante credit a wonderful catch running back from Rahul. After that Ryan Harris came out and rubbed it in, in his nine ball/25 run cameo that saw him hitting four boundaries in one Kumar over before becoming Shami’s fifth victim as Australia declared at 572-7.

Ryan Harris’ cameo meant Australia had 25 overs to make an inroad in the new look Indian top three. It took them just three balls. And it wasn’t the new comer, in fact it was the old monk Murali Vijay who edged a wide one from Starc to Haddin. Starc howled at the departing batsman. So much for the end to send offs.

Now the fired up Australian attack had two short on confidence batsmen in Rahul and Rohit in the middle. Starc tested them with well-directed short ones, whereas Harris kept asking whether they knew where their off stump was. The pair was up to the task. Rahul, in that short period proved that the two horrific shots on debut were just nerves. He was solid in defence, left the ball well, and showed good technique against the short ball.

Rohit Sharma was the more aggressive one. He pulled Starc twice to the fence, and welcomed Lyon into the attack by hitting him behind the sightscreen. In Lyon’s third over, Sharma carted him deep into the mid-wicket stands. But Smith rightly persisted with Lyon. Lyon almost got Sharma but Umpire Kettleborough correctly declined a leg before appeal as the ball had hit Sharma’s bat before pad in a pre-meditated sweep.

More importantly the pair survived that testing period taking India to stumps at 71-1, perfectly setting up day three, which many believe to be the moving day in test cricket.

Stumps Day Two:

Australia 572-7dec (152.3 Overs)
Smith 117, Warner 101

Shami 5-112

India 71-1 (25 Overs)

Sharma 40*, Rahul 31*

Starc 1-17

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


  1. Love the maxim at the start of your wrap: “the great misfortune in being an Indian batsman is you don’t get to play Indian bowling….” Love it!

    Another well-written summary and interesting to see how the performance of the current Indian Test side’s performances are being received at home. Well done Viraj!

  2. Dave Brown says

    Good summary, Viraj. The 7-2 field to Watson until he gets frustrated and gets himself out has been the most telling strategy of the series for both teams. Amazing when Yadav actually pitched one up, he got Smith out. The pitch noticeably slowed today, though. I’m a bit worried that a team could only win on this pitch if they bat first.

  3. Thanks guys. I see it differently Dave. I think the pitch is still good and India should post a big enough score to nullify the first innings. Then the pressure would be completely on Australia to bat well on a deteriorating day four pitch against Ashwin. Even if they bat well, there wont be enough time left to force a result. However, if they fail, India wont mind chasing 200 in two sessions even on the fifth day. Remember, they batted their best when the pitch was at its worst in Adelaide, and unlike Adelaide they bat till 9 here.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Viraj , Indias bowling very disapointing this tour, as bad as the wickets have been . On this road it should be a draw , patience from both sides will be the contributing factor , agree totally with , Dave Brown winning the toss is becoming way too important and is the main factor of this series

Leave a Comment