“Wayward Indian bowling during the morning session of Day 1 has already given Australia a 112-run advantage and that is going to hurt India a lot if the pitch continues to behave in this manner”
India might be feeling that they have made a great recovery in the match having reduced Australia to a score of 277 for 6 at stumps on Day 1.
There is no doubt about that as they picked those six wickets up after going completely wicketless in the morning session. Australia were 112/0 even after lunch and what followed afterwards saw six of their batsmen departing for just 139 runs.
However, deep inside, India must be regretting their wayward bowling during the morning session that allowed the Australian openers, Marcus Harris and Aaron Finch, an easy escape in the first place.
Pictures of the green top at Perth doing rounds on social media, much before the match started, had already raised everyone’s expectations. Everybody thought that the pitch would prove to be a nightmare for batsmen and the seamers would go on to treat us with some nasty fast bowling stuff.
It appeared that both of the captains were dying to field first as they wanted to utilize the fresh green top to their respective bowlers’ advantage. However, Tim Paine surprised everyone as he won the toss and chose to bat first rather. His decision surprised everyone and the Indian skipper Virat Kohli would have been smiling inside to have gotten what he wanted.
India were fielding and the four-man pace attack was expected to wreak havoc on the Australian batting line up. However, as the morning session unfolded, the end result turned out to be completely different than all our expectations.
The Australians went unhurt at Lunch with 66 runs on the board. The Indian seamers had hardly troubled them as both batsmen played their spells out with ease.
There was help for the pacers on the pitch. They were getting both swing and seam movement. But that was not as much as everyone was expecting it to be. The bounce which was expected to be venomous on this track wasn’t that much either. What appeared to be a paradise for the bowlers at the beginning of the match, now was proving to be a batting beauty.
In other words, the pitch behaved in a similar manner to that of the one at Adelaide in the last match. The one in which the Indian seamers had bowled with immaculate accuracy and control to come out with flying colours. But they couldn’t replicate the same success this time around.
It’s true that there wasn’t as much help for the bowlers as expected, but the mistake was on part of the Indian seamers as they sprayed their deliveries all over the pitch during the morning session.
There was no control whatsoever in the way Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah started. At Adelaide, the duo had caught the Australian openers in a stranglehold with their control and discipline but they only looked like their pale shadows this time around.
Finch, who had turned out to be Ishant’s bunny in both innings at Adelaide, was shielded by Harris this time, as the left-hander took guard to start off against Ishant.
Ishant is known for his big booming inswingers to the right-handers ever since he started playing international cricket. So, Harris’ intention of eliminating that threat bore fruit when Ishant struggled to find the proper line to bowl to him. Sometimes he went full and sometimes he dragged his length back. There was even a time when he went on to the extent of landing it at the batting crease. Such was his struggle.
Even if we ignore his length, his line wasn’t good either. Sometimes he strayed on the pads and sometimes bowled too wide, and the batsmen obliged to take the opportunity with both hands once they were settled in.
Bumrah bowled good lines as compared to Ishant but his length left a lot to be desired. He bowled mostly back of the length instead of going full and at times the batsmen latched on to the opportunity whenever he strayed on the shorter side.
So, both bowlers who were at their menacing best at Adelaide struggled to find their rhythm in an all-important morning session this time. This was when India had probably started missing Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was surprisingly left out of the XI in this match, even after his match-winning performance on a spicy Johannesburg track earlier this year.
Anyone could hardly match the control and accuracy Kumar brings with himself. But Kohli had to deal with the options he had now. That was when he brought on Umesh Yadav to bowl and just like Ishant and Bumrah, he bowled wayward lines too, thus leaking 11 runs in his first two overs.
Running short of options, Mohammad Shami was the last man Kohli turned to and he almost delivered on his first delivery to Finch as he trapped him in front of the stumps with a ripping inswinger. The appeal was denied and Kohli opted for the DRS, which later showed that the ball missing the stumps. Shami tricked Finch with another inswinger in the next delivery. The appeal was turned down this time too but Kohli didn’t go for the review, and rightly so as replays showed that it would have been Umpire’s call had he reviewed.
That over was the first sign of something happening for the Indian bowlers since morning. Bumrah and Ishant returned to bowl better spells after that too. But Australia had already ran away with the advantage by then.
They went to lunch at 66/0 and later strengthened their position to build their innings to a score of 112/0. Suddenly, when the pitch started showing its true colours, they lost wickets in clusters too.
The spice in the pitch is visible now as it suddenly appears to have come alive. The Indian seamers may even fold their innings up in the first hour of the morning tomorrow. But Australia are already playing with a 112 run advantage and that is going to hurt India a lot if the pitch continues to behave in this manner.