Full marks to Australia. They were up against it the entire time but did not once throw in the towel. And after six days of intense Test cricket in the Border Gavaskar Trophy, they can be proud of how they have performed even though the Aussies are 1-0 behind.
Australia unleashed a green monster in the guise of the Perth pitch for the second Test, putting their batsmen in the firing line with the hope their own quicks Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will blow the Indian batting away for not a lot. Batting first on a sultry day in Perth on Friday, Australia’s batsmen showed far greater application than the Indian bowlers to grab the initiative and it is all down to what happened on the final day of the first Test in Adelaide.
In the opening Test, Australia batted for nearly five sessions and came within 31 runs of the 323-run victory target. The plugged away for 120 overs in the final innings and it took a monumental effort from an Indian bowling line-up consisting of just four recognised bowlers to secure victory.
The first Test ended on Monday and just three days later, the two teams are at it again. This time, India went in with four pacers after off-spinner Ravi Ashwin was ruled out due to injury but the hard grind of Adelaide had taken its toll.
Bowling in unforgiving 40 degree heat, India failed to capitalise on a pitch where deliveries seamed, swung and bounced all over the place without warning. The new Perth pitch is as close to treacherous as it gets and Australia’s batsmen have done remarkably well to not let the surface dictate their game.
Pace spearhead Ishant Sharma was well down on pace and had to even leave the field, due to a possible side strain. Umesh Yadav was the weakest link in the pace line-up and part-time off spinner Hanuma Vihari bowled 14 overs for 53 runs, while picking up two scalps.
The discipline and consistency that Indian bowlers showed in Adelaide had evaporated and Australia were waiting in the wings to pounce. Openers Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris, along with Travis Head, didn’t reach three figures but the fifties all three scored were worth 100 or even 150 on other wickets.
Toss was always gong to play a major role in the second Test as batting is expected to be injurious to health in the fourth innings and Australia captain Tim Paine did his part perfectly, batting first and sending Indian bowlers out in the sun days after their Adelaide exertion. Australia’s fast bowlers have an extra two days of rest and should be pumped up as they have a big first innings total to play with.
A four-Test series is about consistency and endurance. How quickly teams recover for the next encounter makes a huge difference. India were handicapped by the injury to Ashwin. Australia did not need a second invitation and are therefore in pole position in the match.
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