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Day five at Adelaide turned into a humdinger as Australia’s lower order showed the stomach for a fight that was evidently lacking in its top order.
India’s relentless pace attack alongside off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, though, kept probing the batsmen and eventually prised out the last man with the hosts still 31 runs adrift of the target.
India hasn’t won a Test series in Australia yet and this Test win is its first in the country in 10 years, the last coming at Perth way back in 2008.
India has also never won the first Test of a series in Australia and looks set to rewrite history in the series with a 1-0 lead going into the second Test match at Perth on Friday.
There are several factors that tilted the balance India’s way but here we list down the top five reasons.
‘Not everyone’s Pujara here’
India’s chirpy wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant was heard constantly chattering to the Australian batsmen and one phrase he used a lot was that “Not everyone’s Pujara here”. While the quip could go down as a dig at the Australian batsmen, it was perhaps one reason the hosts couldn’t win. Cheteshwar Pujara showed immense resolve and composure for India from No.3 and took them from a precarious position after lunch on day 1 to a formidable total. In contrast, Australia’s top order played quite a few reckless shots in both innings’ and threw their wickets away which ultimately cost them big. If one batsman had shown the tenacity of Pujara and rallied together with the tail, Australia might have walked off with the highest run chase in Adelaide to their credit.
Effectiveness of India’s pace attack
Before the Test series began, Australian media had a sly dig at Ishant Sharma’s woeful record in terms of strike rate in the country. That, though, seemed a thing of the past as India’s pace bowlers matched the hosts’ seamers ball for ball. Jasprit Bumrah consistently clocked over 145kmh while Sharma was as immaculate and relentless as Josh Hazlewood. Mohammad Shami’s odd spell was as good as Cummins’ bursts and he provided quite a few crucial breakthroughs – like dismissing Starc’s late on day 5 to break a budding partnership – that effectively tilted the game India’s way. The pace attack had produced some fine numbers in England and South Africa earlier this year and going by Adelaide, the trend is set to continue Down Under.
Ravichandran Ashwin taking a leaf out of Lyon’s book
The last time Ravichandran Ashwin toured Australia in 2014-15, he tried a lot of variations, bowled quick and short and was milked for runs fairly easily by the Australians. His 12 wickets across three Tests came at an average of 48.66. Here, Ashwin took a leaf out of Lyon’s book. The Australian off-spinner has had immense success at home on the bouncier tracks using a fuller length and slower pace through the air. Ashwin was evidently slower this time around and used the rough outside the right-hander’s crease well to generate bounce and turn. One other factor was the six southpaws in the Aussie batting line-up. Ashwin has a terrific record against left-handers. This year, in the away Tests in England and South Africa, Ashwin took 21 wickets, of which 17 were left-handers. When Australia lost its top four in the first innings, Ashwin had claimed three lefties. Of his six wickets in the Test, only Aaron Finch in the second innings was a right-hander.
The psychological advantage of a 15-run lead
If Australia thought it had the upper hand after reducing India to 5-86 in the first innings, it was made to eat humble pie by a dogged Pujara and some fight from the tail. India ambled along to 250 on day one, a competitive score given where it was placed after the first session but wasn’t believed to be good enough to win the Test. That quickly changed as Australia’s top order played reckless shots and, despite the tail wagging, got to only 235, giving India a 15-run lead. In hindsight, that crucial margin proved to be a psychological advantage for the Indians, who came all guns blazing in the second innings with the bat. KL Rahul and Murali Vijay stitched together their maiden 50-run stand away from home and the platform rubbed off on Ajinkya Rahane, who has had a disastrous few months in Test cricket.
While it’s easy to pinpoint the toss as a decisive factor, it could well have been given how trends in Test cricket have been. All of the past 12 Test matches played in world cricket have been won by the side that won the toss. Recently, New Zealand drubbed Pakistan 2-1 in the UAE where all games were won by the side that won the toss. India had a wretched luck with the toss in South Africa and England. But when the toss has gone his way, Kohli knows how to churn out a win. Kohli has won the toss in 20 Test matches and hasn’t lost one (17 wins and three draws). So was the toss crucial? Apparently. But we will only know for certain as the caravan moves to other parts of Australia for the remainder of the series.
Follow Rohit’s coverage of the Australian tour and all things cricket on Twitter @imRohit_SN
The post The five factors that tilted the Test match India’s way appeared first on The New Daily.
Australians have often mythologised about the virtues of the ordinary bloke.
Stoic, modestly talented but honest and hard-working, this new-look Australian cricket team is cut from that unremarkable cloth.
And Aussie cricket fans are going to have to wear it, no matter how uncomfortable it feels.
India’s win in the first Test was determined by a touch of class from India’s Cheteshwar Pujara (123 and 71), who was named man of the match, and an Australian top order that never got going.
Travis Head’s first-innings knock of 72 and Shaun Marsh’s fighting 60 in the second dig were the only Australian scores that crept beyond 50.
Usman Khawaja (28 and 8), Aaron Finch (0 and 11) and Peter Handscomb (14 and 34) were performances that left Australia with no fat on the bone.
As much as the lack of runs are a worry, the manner of the dismissals were disappointing for Justin Langer and his coaching staff.
Finch’s cavalier shot in the first innings that resulted in his stumps being splayed all across the park before most people had taken their seats on day one was emblematic of a lack of temperament and technique that dogged this Australian line-up.
Similarly, Khawaja’s frustration at his inability to get the scoreboard ticking over in the second innings (eight from 42 deliveries) resulted in him taking an agitated, lofted shot at a Ravi Ashwin delivery that was caught in the deep.
At that stage of the game the Australian No.3 needed to play for time, will himself into the game and not succumb to his impatience.
This batting line-up currently looks incapable of mustering a score beyond 300.
As good as Nathan Lyon and his fast bowling partners are, they will not be able to defend such meagre totals too often.
They certainly shouldn’t be asked to pick up the bat and find the runs themselves as was the case here.
Lyon was magnificent. The New South Wales off-spinner took eight wickets in the match and produced more than 50 runs with the bat.
As the victory target loomed on the distant horizon he may have allowed himself to dream of a glorious 10th-wicket batting heist to steal the win.
It wasn’t to be, and the Australians will need to regroup quickly, with the second Test starting in Perth on Friday.
Selectors are unlikely to make changes for that game given its close proximity. Nor should they, not at this stage.
Australian cricket is clearly trying to replenish its batting stocks and revitalise its spirit.
Despite being beaten, continuity is important for the fragile confidence of a team that will now be chasing the series.
Mitchell Starc came under pressure in this match for some wayward bowling (2-63 and 3-40) and questions have been posed about his status as leader of the attack.
Perth might offer an opportunity for the big left-arm quick to reset and find form.
Certainly, he could take his cue from the Indian fast bowlers who came with a plan to bowl at the stumps and expose Australia’s lack of technique at the top of the order.
— Jasprit bumrah (@Jaspritbumrah93) December 10, 2018
Ishant Sharma (2-47 and 1-48), Jasprit Bumrah (3-68 and 3-47) and Mohammed Shami (2-58 and 3-65) all made telling contributions.
This is clearly the best Indian pace attack that has toured Australia, and with Perth beckoning, its momentum may be irresistible.
For a country of cricket fans who assume summer should deliver a dominant season of cricket by the men in baggy green caps, these next few weeks may prove to be challenging.
They could be about to discover that Australia struggling on home soil is nothing out of the ordinary.
The post Nothing out of the ordinary to test cricket fans in long, hot summer appeared first on The New Daily.
It may not be etched in history like “Amazing Adelaide” or Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz’s epic last wicket stand in the 2005 Ashes but the opening Test of the 2018/19 summer will be remembered for a long time to come.
Australian captain Tim Paine says he’s proud of the way his team not only fought hard against India but played in the right spirit as they put on a friendlier face after the ball-tampering scandal.
Melbourne Victory are in ominous form after five wins on the trot, and a big reason for that has been midfield star Terry Antonis.