Craig Overton had a dream start to his Test career with the prized wicket of the world’s leading batsman Steve Smith as England chipped away at Australia in the day-night Ashes Test in Adelaide on Saturday.
The Somerset seamer, who had dreams as a child of playing Ashes cricket in Australia, broke through the Australian skipper’s defences for the crucial breakthrough under lights on the opening day at Adelaide Oval.
Overton was making his Test debut, but was ecstatic as he claimed the coveted wicket of Smith at a pivotal stage of the opening day for 40 as Australia went to stumps at 209 for four.
“It’s massive. For me personally my dream as a kid was to always play for England and for me to play in an England Test team against Australia in Australia makes it even more special,” Overton told reporters.
“It’s nice that my folks were here for them to see it as well. Hopefully I’ve made them proud and I think I have and it will be nice to see them later tonight.”
Australian batsman Usman Khawaja, who scored his ninth Test half-century, praised Overton’s wicket.
“Quite handy to get the best batsman in the world out for your first wicket, I’m sure he’ll have a good time tonight,” Khawaja said.
Overton angled one in between bat and pad to scatter Smith’s stumps to the unbridled delight of the England team after the Australian skipper’s match-turning unbeaten 141 in his side’s 10-wicket first Brisbane Test win.
“It was a pretty nice one, obviously. He’s one of the best players in the world so to get that one to start with and hopefully I can carry on with that tomorrow,” Overton said.
“There was a plan to go straight at him. We felt we could keep him quiet doing that and just one went through him a little bit quicker with a little bit of pace and went on to the stumps.
“It was nice to beat him for pace. So that was good.”
Overton said his England team-mates, particularly fellow fast bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, had got under Smith’s skin with a constant verbal barrage during his 90-ball vigil at the crease.
“I’m not sure what was said, I was on the boundary so I don’t know too much, but obviously they said a few things and it looked like he got under his skin,” Overton said.
“But he still got 40, so he played pretty well. It’s nice to get him in the end and we’ll go again tomorrow.”
Overton said Smith showed his irritation with the England onslaught.
“The way he left the ball, like a sort of exaggeration a little bit. He didn’t do that in the first innings in Brisbane,” he said.
“I don’t know if he was doing it on purpose to wind us up a little bit.”
On a flat Feroz Shah Kotla pitch, Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli made merry as Sri Lanka’s bowlers were given the run-around on a long and tiring day.
Here, we look at the good and the bad from the first day.
MURALI VIJAY’S SECOND CONSECUTIVE TON
The Indian opener’s injury had sidelined him when India toured Sri Lanka a few months earlier. Since then, his replacement Shikhar Dhawan, has put up some impressive performances to cement his place in the side. Vijay’s return to fitness coincided with Dhawan taking a break in the second Test due to personal reasons.
Vijay capitalized with a superb ton in the Nagpur Test which has seen India’s third opener KL Rahul miss out on Saturday as Dhawan once again returned straight into the playing XI. Rahul might have to spend some more time on the bench after Vijay put together another impressive unbeaten ton on the opening day. It was the 33-year-old’s 11th Test hundred in 89 innings.
Back to back Test hundreds for Murali Vijay… just what Indian cricket fans wanted to see before Cape Town. Dhawan/Rahul to toss a coin for that second spot on Jan 5 then. #IndvSL
— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) December 2, 2017
VIRAT KOHLI’S THIRD-CONSECUTIVE TEST HUNDRED
The Indian skipper seems to be on a different level in this series. After coming into bat in the 21st over of the day, Kohli was in complete control from the very first ball as he collected runs in brisk fashion.
The 28-year-old brought up his quickest Test hundred in just 110 deliveries while also going past the 5,000-run mark in the process. Bringing up his 20th Test ton in front of his home crowd, Kohli has now registered three hundreds in as many innings, with one in each Test. This feat has made him the first captain in Test history to do so on two different occasions.
— ICC (@ICC) December 2, 2017
AJINKYA RAHANE FAILS AGAIN
The deputy Test skipper has had a miserable series despite the other Indian batsmen flourishing. With scores of 4, 0, and 2 in the three innings so far in the series coming into the final Test, it was imperative that Rahane spent some time in the middle with the South Africa tour coming up next.
However, he was undone for just one run by Lakshay Sandakan towards the end of the day, being stumped by Niroshan Dickwella after attempting a loose drive. With just seven runs in four innings now, Rahane will now head to South Africa without any sort of form, given he is not a part of the Indian limited-overs setup. He will desperately be hoping for a final shot in the second innings but given the way the islanders have batted so far, he might not get it.
Ajinkya Rahane in This #IndvSL Series :
— Haamid Yuvan (@viewhaamid) December 2, 2017
DILRUWAN PERERA HAS A LONG TOIL
The senior Sri Lankan spinner did not have the best of days either at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. The 35-year-old might well have notched up his 100th Test wicket when he dismissed Dhawan but he along with Sandakan leaked runs galore.
The off-spinner was swatted around by Kohli and Pujara with ease as he failed to create any sort of pressure with the ball.
As the Ashes party moves on to Adelaide for the second Test, Joe Root’s men have their work cut out after their 10-wicket demolition in Brisbane.
As Adelaide prepares for the first ever day-night Ashes Test, we look at the seven deadly stats.
ENGLAND’S CHANCES WHEN TRAILING 1-0 DOWN UNDER
Only twice in their history have England overturned a 1-0 deficit in Australia to claim the Ashes. As such, Root’s men will be playing against history when re-start their quest to retain the urn.
Since 2000, the average first-innings score at the Adelaide Oval is a whopping 430 runs. Dangerously for England, Australia’s top order loves to bat at the venue. Captain Steve Smith might average an insane 61.23 runs over the course of his career but is a far greater beast at Adelaide with a whopping average of 81.80 in four Tests. Similarly, deputy skipper David Warner averages almost 60 at the Oval compared to his overall average of 48.48.
AUSTRALIA’S DAY-NIGHT DOMINATION
Since the inception of day-night Tests by the ICC in 2015, Australia have played the most: three – winning each of those contests. Interestingly, two of those coming at the Adelaide Oval.
England have a 100 percent win-record with the pink ball themselves, though, despite only playing one Test against West Indies.
AUSTRALIA’S PINK BALL MONSTERS
Two of the leading wicket-takers with the pink ball in first-class cricket will be on show at the Adelaide Oval under lights. That they both belong to Australia will not comfort the English.
Mitchell Starc is the highest wicket-taker in day-night first-class games with 42 wickets at an average of just 17.90. The second-highest wicket taker is his new ball partner Josh Hazelwood with 33 wickets at an average of 18.30.
ALASTAIR COOK’S PINK-BALL DOMINANCE
While England might have played only one day-night Test before they arrived at Adelaide, Cook hit a mammoth 243-run knock against the West Indies in his sole international pink-ball innings.
He has faced the pink-ball under lights on one other occasion where he hit a 193 for Essex in a first-class game. While he has been struggling of late, the day-night Test at Adelaide might just provide him the perfect chance to get back in the groove.
ENGLAND’S NOT SO BAD RECORD AT ADELAIDE
Of the 31 Tests England have played at the Adelaide Oval, they have managed to come out as the winning side in no less than nine matches. Their latest victory at the venue came in the 2010-11 Ashes where they recorded a famous win by an innings and 71 runs.
While the Gabba was a complete fortress, there are chinks in the Adelaide armour which England could look to exploit.
STEVE SMITH’S BATTING LANDMARKS
After his dogged century at Brisbane, the Australian skipper has seen his average rise to a massive 61.23. In the latest ICC rankings for Test batsmen, Smith maintained top spot while reaching a career-high rating of 961 points. Only four other batsmen – Sir Don Bradman, Jack Hobbs, Ricky Ponting and Len Hutton – have had a higher rating in the history of the game.