Cricbuzz Staff •
“We haven’t got millions of Test matches in our top six, so I think people just have to be a little bit patient.” © Getty
That bowling hasn’t looked easier in Australia isn’t even a hyperbole. It was as if you couldn’t tell apart Australia from their own alter-ego. Scoring 191 runs in 88 overs isn’t how Australia ever aspire to bat, more so at home, but that’s what transpired on the second day’s play, headlining a very different kind of cricketing day in Adelaide for the hosts and visitors alike.
To say that India were more Australian than Australia themselves wouldn’t be a total lie. Their bowlers made 250 look king-sized on a slow-moving day which witnessed Australia at their timid worst in quite some time. Ravichandran Ashwin hit pink form with the kookaburra, picking three crucial top-order wickets to give India’s bowling an edge, as the seamers kept chipping at wickets from the other end, none more conspicuous as Tim Paine’s dismissal to Ishant Sharma.
“It’s not easy to score on,” Marcus Harris, who scored 26 on debut before becoming Ashwin’s first wicket on the day, said. “The last couple of years have been tough with the pink ball wicket and it’s similar now with a lot more grass on it, so it’s not as easy as it used to be with the old Adelaide Oval wicket.”
It’s admittedly a track slower than what you come to expect in Adelaide but you cannot pin down Australia’s batting to just that. Their inexperience came to the fore against a polished Indian bowling attack that’s made 2018 about sniffing whatever’s little available in the pitch for them and using it to chip away at the batsmen, until it snowballs into something tyrannizing.
Harris acknowledged that Australia’s batting is still wet behind the ears and begged faith and patience for a team that’s still finding their feet without their two best players.
“We haven’t got millions of Test matches in our top six, so I think people just have to be a little bit patient. We’ll work it out, but it’s a tough wicket and they bowled really well. Sometimes there’s going to be days where you can’t come out and blast them at three and four an over, just got to grind away. A good thing with this wicket is it gets better as this match goes on, so I think that should hold us in good stead.
“Usman got a pretty good ball, I thought Pete was batting really well, so just one of those things where if someone gets 70, 80 or even a hundred the score looks a little bit different. But I think you find that with a bit of an inexperienced line up that you’ve just got to be patient, there’s going to be those little ebbs and flows in form, just with guys trying to work it out.”
Conditioned into seeing foreign bowlers bleed runs at the rate of knots Down Under, what surprised many was Australia’s diffidence to take the bowling on. Even Murali Vijay, into the attack as India counted down to the second new ball, bowled a maiden. Probably India’s terminally ambitious drives early on and Cheteshwar Pujara’s stoic batting offered them a template, mollycoddling them into a defensive mindset, but there was a definite lack of intent from Australia, who have really defined it cricketing wise for the most of our lives.
“You want to attack all the time but sometimes it’s not that easy,” Harris said. “The wicket wasn’t overly easy to score on, and I thought they bowled really well and set some good fields. It was just one of those old school, hard days of Test cricket and I think it’s pretty even and both teams have bowled pretty well so far like you’ve seen.”
It was a day akin to the second day in Bangalore in 2017, when Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Ashwin choked Australia’s batting. But here in Adelaide, with a growing rough outside a right hander’s off-stump, they have their hopes pinned on Nathan Lyon’s spinning India out of the Test match.
“There’s probably going to be a little bit of turn there going on in the game for the third and fourth innings,” Harris said, “so Nathan will come into it like he did in the first innings. But I thought he [Ashwin] bowled really well .. mixed up his pace a lot, bowled a few different variations with side spin and over spin.
“He was hard to score off and Virat set some really good fields. It wasn’t easy but hopefully we can keep finding a way.”