Australians slump after Watson’s power-hitting
Manoj Tiwary is not daunted by situations. Just two runs shy of a hundred, he stepped out to left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty and blasted him over wide long-on for a six.
That’s Tiwary for you. Calculated aggression is a part of his repertoire. He can also apply himself and build an innings.
Later in the day, opener Shane Watson’s power-hitting — he thwacked the ball down the ground, got under the sphere for the big hits over mid-wicket and pulled with typical panache — was a compelling piece of batting. The pitch was slow but the big-built all-rounder fast-tracked his way to an 87-ball 84.
But then, after a 116-run opening stand between Watson and Ed Cowan (40), the Australians slumped to 131 for four on the second day of their three-day game against India ‘A’ at the IC-Guru Nanak ground on Sunday. Earlier, the host had made 451 in its first innings.
Losing their way
The ball spun for left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhruv and off-spinner Jalaj Saxena and the Aussies lost their way with Phillip Hughes and Usman Khwaja making quick exits.
With national selector John Inverarity watching, the vulnerability of some of young Aussie batsmen against spin was under sharp focus.
They need to play with soft hands and allow the ball to spin; pre-determined front-foot play is not the answer.
For India ‘A’, Tiwary’s 187-ball 129 was a knock of substance. Tales about his vulnerability against well-directed short-pitched bowling from the quicks often do the rounds but Tiwary held firm — the sluggish pitch here might have been his ally — in this innings as Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc bounced at him.
This was an innings where he found the gaps off either foot — the punched drive and the whip are his trademark shots — as the 18 boundaries during his hundred reflect.
Despite conceding a mountain of runs on day one, the Australians made a comeback of sorts on day two.
There were wickets for off-spinner Nathan Lyon and left-arm spinner Ashton Agar — the two had been punished severely on day one — after pacemen Siddle sent back wicket-keeper batsman C.M. Gautam (38) who top-edged an attempted hook.
Jalaj Saxena (30 not out), put down at gully by Lyon off Siddle on zero, offered some resistance but Tiwary miscued Lyon and the tail departed in a hurry.
Then, Watson held the centre-stage pounding the India ‘A’ pacemen as they erred in length. He has a forward press but shift weight quickly to punish the short ones with cuts and pulls. Watson flicks with immense force too.
The left-handed Cowan was an able foil to the marauding Watson. Things began to happen once spin was introduced. Dhruv dismissed Cowan when the batsman missed a sweep. Dhruv has an easy action and can get the ball to drift.
Jalaj Saxena, the off-spinner, beat Hughes in the air for ‘keeper Gautam to effect a smart stumping. And Khawaja was done in by a quicker one from Saxena.
And when Watson, who struck 13 boundaries and a six, nicked one from Dhruv to the ‘keeper, India ‘A’ was on top.
Despite rain on Saturday night and Sunday morning, the groundstaff led by curator M. Kothadaraman did a tremendous job in getting the play started at 12.10 p.m.
India ‘A’ — 1st innings: G. Gambhir c Watson b Henriques 112, Jiwanjyot Singh c Watson b Doherty 24, Rohit c Wade b Doherty 77, M. Tiwary c Doherty b Lyon 129, A. Nayar c Cowan b Doherty 4, C.M. Gautam c Wade b Siddle 38, J. Saxena (not out) 30, R. Dhruv c Khawaja b Agar 21, Vinay c Cowan b Agar 0, M. Grewal c Hughes b Agar 2, D. Kulkarni c Cowan b Lyon 1; Extras (b-3, lb-6, nb-4): 13; Total (in 128.4 overs): 451.
Fall of wickets: 1-67, 2-195, 3-266, 4-272, 5-346, 6-422, 7-446, 8-446, 9-450.
Australian XI bowling: Starc 20-6-44-0, Siddle 18-5-40-1, Henriques 16-4-30-1, Lyon 30.4-5-113-2, Doherty 24-2-108-3, Agar 20-2-107-3.
Australian XI — 1st innings: S. Watson c Gautam b Dhruv 84, E. Cowan lbw b Dhruv 40, P. Hughes st. Gautam b Saxena 1, U. Khawaja b Saxena 1, M. Wade (batting) 3, M. Henriques (batting) 0; Extras (nb-2): 2; Total (for four wkts. in 36 overs): 131.
Fall of wickets: 1-116, 2-117, 3-127, 4-127.
India ‘A’ bowling: Vinay 4-1-8-0, Kulkarni 5-0-26-0, Grewal 4-0-37-0, Nayar 6-0-27-0, Dhruv 9-2-19-2, Saxena 8-4-14-2.