Cricket

Bowlers strike after Warner hundred

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Clarke hurts his back and retires hurt on 60; Smith unbeaten on 72

After both teams and the crowd paid an emotional homage to Phillip Hughes, it was business as usual at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday.

David Warner scintillated, the Indian pacemen showed they were not averse to bouncing, and the Aussie combative instincts were on view after days of grieving and uncertainty.

At the end of day one in the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar series, Australia, riding on Warner’s 163-ball 145, was 354 for six against an Indian attack that found its bearings only late in the day. After being taken for runs, India struck back with the second new ball as Australia suffered a mini collapse from 345 for three.

The day was not short on drama. When Warner reached 63 — the score at which Hughes suffered that fatal blow — he sank to his knees in a form of tribute to his departed mate.

However, on a day when runs were easily available on a flat deck, there was an injury scare for Australia when skipper Michael Clarke hurt his back while attempting to avoid a short-pitched delivery from Ishant Sharma.

On a 60 of footwork and timing then, Clarke had to leave the field, and there were apprehensions that his chronic back problem could have re-surfaced. The Aussie skipper soon travelled to a local hospital where he was injected in his lower back.

Along with Warner, Clarke dismantled the Indian bowling. Warner is a batsman of hand-eye coordination with exceptional bat-speed. The Indian pacemen failed to draw him into drives early on, and the opener cashed in with typically punishing blows through gully and point.

As he grew in confidence, there were blows down the ground from the intrepid opener. The outfield was quick and there was value for strokes.

Intriguing ploy

It seemed intriguing why the Indian pacemen operated round-the-wicket to Warner. If the idea was to cramp the left-hander for room, the ploy failed.

Instead, someone like Varun Aaron could have bowled over-the-wicket to Warner, getting some deliveries to swing in and angle a few others across the southpaw to find the edge.

When you have a strong cordon behind the stumps, over-the-wicket is a much better line of attack. The round-the-wicket ploy could have been used as variety.

With the exception of Ishant Sharma, precision was missing in the Indian pace attack after Clarke won the toss.

Mohammed Shami, picked ahead of Umesh Yadav, sprayed the ball around. Warner was not complaining.

Although he lost partner Chris Rogers — held at second slip by Shikhar Dhawan after chasing one from Ishant — the left-hander motored on to split the field with meaty hits on both sides.

Aaron dismissed Shane Watson, who opened the bat-face to an away-seamer, but Warner found a determined partner in Clarke.

Surprisingly, Karn Sharma was selected ahead of off-spinner R. Ashwin who could have been effective against the left-handed Warner.

While fielding a leg-spinner is an attacking move in itself, Karn seemed to roll the ball rather than spin it. He did not appear to be imparting enough revolutions on the sphere and there was less bounce for him off the surface.

Although Karn eventually had Warner holing out. Ashwin’s experience could have been of some value to an attack that appears lacking in this attribute.

Mixed bag

Kohli’s first day in the park as Test captain was a mixed bag. That M. Vijay’s part-time off-spin was on view in the 52nd over did not reflect well on India’s game-plan.

Given India’s inability to build pressure with control and accuracy — this does not depend on the nature of the pitch — Australia consolidated.

Steven Smith (72 batting) and Mitchell Marsh essayed some firm strokes.

A fine batsman, Smith’s drives through the covers were majestic; he also cut with panache and on-drove with balance. The sense of composure in Smith’s batsmanship is hard to miss. Importantly, his footwork appears decisive.

The promising Marsh (41) impressed with his cultured strokeplay from an upright stance before edging an Aaron delivery that left him to gully; India had claimed the second new ball. Soon, Shami breached night watchman Nathan Lyon’s defence and the section seating the Indian supporters grew vocal.

Not much later, Shami delivered a nippy away swinger to induce a snick from Brad Haddin.

The Indian pacemen were now, rightly, bowling a fuller length from over-the-wicket. But had they conceded too much ground earlier?

Teams

India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Karn Sharma, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Varun Aaron.

Australia: Michael Clarke (c), David Warner, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon.

Scoreboard

Australia — 1st innings: C. Rogers c Dhawan b Ishant 9 (22b, 1x4), D. Warner c Ishant b Karn 145 (163b, 19x4), S. Watson c Dhawan b Aaron 14 (33b, 3x4), M. Clarke (retired hurt) 60 (84b, 9x4), S. Smith (batting) 72 (130b, 9x4), M. Marsh c Kohli b Aaron 41 (87b, 5x4), N. Lyon b Shami 3 (14b), B. Haddin c Saha b Shami 0 (5b); Extras (lb-4, w-4, nb-2):10; Total (for six wkts. in 89.2 overs): 354.

Fall of wickets: 1-50 (Rogers), 2-88 (Watson), 3-258 (Warner), 4-345 (Marsh), 5-352 (Lyon), 6-354 (Haddin).

India bowling: Shami 17.2-1-83-2, Aaron 17-1-95-2, Ishant 20-4-56-1, Karn 23-1-89-1, Vijay 12-3-27-0.

Toss: Australia .

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 11:36:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/indias-tour-of-australia-first-test-of-australiaindia-test-series/article6674546.ece

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