The opening day’s play between India and Australia in the 2nd Test match at Brisbane has sent temperatures soaring in the Australian camp. Unrelenting weather combined with immaculate execution of batting plans by the Indians found the Aussies cornered at the close of the day’s play. At close of play, India was comfortably placed at 311 for 4 wickets after winning the toss and electing to bat.
It was a flat batted square drive off a 145 kph Mitchell Johnson delivery that Ajinkya Rahane hit in the 81st over of the day. This more or less summarized the plight of the hosts on the opening day in the Brisbane Test. With Murali Vijay doing the damage for most part of the day, Rahane came on string towards the end on the way to a stylish and unbeaten knock of 75.
Dhoni decides to bat first
Not many would have anticipated MS Dhoni to opt for batting after winning the toss, knowing well that starting conditions in Brisbane have traditionally been famous for supporting the faster bowlers. The Australians were going into the match with as many as 6 fast bowling options. The captain’s brave decision, though, did not backfire and reaped rich dividends throughout the day.
Indian openers start well
Murali Vijay’s run of good form continued without any hassles, as he kept his attacking instincts at bay for the first hour of play and handled the Aussie onslaught with excellent composure. Shikhar Dhawan, short on confidence after a long run of poor form in overseas tests, bravely defied the Australians in the opening stages of the game. For a change India had 50 on the board without losing either opener.
However, Dhawan’s resistance did not last long as he soon attempted to slash a wide Mitchell Marsh delivery, with the team score at 56. Cheteshwar Pujara’s resilience took shape right from the very start of his innings, and Murali Vijay at the other end used a mix of caution and aggression to steer India to 89/1 at Lunchtime. India had clearly won the first session and laid the platform for a good score.
Quick wickets in the second session
The second session, however, was a different story altogether. The first major break for the Aussies came as a result of an umpiring error on the part of Ian Gould, who declared Pujara caught behind to a rising Hazlewood delivery. Replays showed that the ball was miles away from the bat or the glove, and had only kissed the grill of the helmet on its way through to the keeper.Another day, another dismissal that will provoke debate over the non usage of DRS by India !
Virat Kohli started well but perished early, attempting to cut a delivery that was perilously close to his body. The Indians were in spot of bother, here, with the score at 137/3 at the stroke of tea, and the Indian middle order could have been subject to great scrutiny
Murali Vijay, Rahane and Brisbane heat keep Australia at bay
The third session went completely India’s way. The Indian batsmen managed the heat well and combined discipline along with some blazing shots whenever they got the opportunity. It perhaps helped that some of the Australian bowlers ( Marsh and Hazelwood) struggled with their fitness on a very hot day.
Redemption for Rahane
In the second innings of the Adelaide Test, Ajinkya Rahane had to walk back to the pavilion in the 2nd innings, courtesy an umpiring error . (Refer earlier comment on DRS !).
Today was Rahane’s shot at redemption, and he pounced on the opportunity right from the very word GO. Rahane’s unbeaten half century was impressive, and India will hope that he will convert it into a match defining knock tomorrow.
Vijay steers the ship to safe waters
Vijay played a very determined knock to bring up his 5th Test ton in Test cricket.Vijay was very good at leaving ball outside the off stump even as his cover driving continued to be of the highest calibre. He seems to have a liking for the Australian attack for this was his fourth century against them. Today even the Australians seemed to have taken a liking for Vijay as a few tough chances went abegging.
The technically sound duo of Vijay and Rahane brought India back into safety, with a solid 124 run partnership whihc was eventually broken due to a tired Vijay getting stumped on 144 to Nathan Lyon.
Rohit Sharma, who came in after Vijay’s dismissal, assisted Rahane in keeping the Australians under check, with some fluent and aggressive stroke-play.
The tired Australians
The sight of David Warner and Steven Smith bowling in the fading stages of the day was indicative of the fact that the Aussies had run out of firepower well before the scheduled close of play. Mitchell Marsh was seen walking back to the dressing room very early in the day, and was declared unfit for bowling due to a hamstring problem. Starc, Johnson and Hazlewood too found it extremely difficult to carry on in the final session, owing to heat related problems – both Starc and Hazlewood had to leave the ground midway through the last session, leaving Australia’s bowling in a precarious position
India’s game tomorrow
With Rahane and Rohit set at the crease, facing tired and physically broken Australian bowlers, chances of India notching up a near-500 total are quite high. With Ravichandran Ashwin back as the vanguard of the tail, one might expect it to wag, for India to get the proverbial ‘mammoth 1st innings score’ tomorrow.
In the opposing camp, one man would be itching to make his presence felt. Mitchell Johnson is the spearhead of this Aussie attack and he will have to come to the party early tomorrow morning to lift the spirits of a tiring pace attack and his new skipper.