January 14, 2012 by dixwah
Day One: Australia (0/149) trail India (161) by 12 runs
“Stop bitching and start pitching” – Australian advertising guru Ian Elliot
Another day of Test cricket that promised a contest, but delivered a one-sided feast for Australia. The day was bookmarked by a couple of favours that went Australia’s way; they won a favourable toss and Ed Cowan received a wonderful non-DRS reprieve when he gloved a leg-sider late in the day.
In between though, the main factor was another weak, insipid performance from a remarkably overrated Indian team.
Despite the barefoot beer beat-up the day before, the WACA pitch had its good, even bounce, offering assistance to good bowling but true bounce and a quick outfield to reward good batting.
161 was a disgraceful effort from the tourists. Sehwag has lost his balance and can’t be given more chances. As with Australia’s struggles in recent series when Phil Hughes lost touch, Sehwag is putting India on the back foot in his team’s first batting session, and his mates are no longer good enough to recover.
Solid bowling was too easily rewarded. Gambhir and Laxman hung the bat, Dravid and Tendulkar were dismissed off staright, but boundary balls. For me the series was summed up by the dismissal of Kohli.
Kohli joins his teammates as someone whose reputation exceeds his output. He has banter, agression and fight, but gets it all wrong. The finger at the SCG and mouthing-off at Warner on day one didn’t show someone who was standing up to a challenge, rather a soft little twat who starts a fight before his friends inevitably hold him back.
Building solidly and beginning to fight back after Australia took the first session, Kohli punched an ordinary ball and was caught on point. With the long tail the four-pronged pace attack required, it was soft.
I can almost accept being out-of-sorts. Dravid was Test cricket’s highest run-scorer in 2011 but is now about as reliable as a Johnson-Starc warm-up ball. The wall has become a sandcastle.
Laxman is fighting hard. His set-up was all wrong in Sydney where his late look-up at the bowler was cleverly exploited by the Aussies. He’s trying, working, and still knicking.
Tendulkar is another case all together. The master may be the only one standing at the table but he shouldn’t be standing tall. Clarke, Ponting and Hussey more than capitalised when they had their opportunity in Sydney. In a team of misfits, India needs the in-form Tendulkar to carry them across the line. He’s doing half the job.
Then they had their turn to bowl, correct things, have their say on the match. Both Warner and Cowan were excellent. Like an in-form Sehwag, Warner has the game to take a match away from a suffering fielding side in a session. He did that after tea on day one. Cowan bristled along, Sean Penn to Warner’s Bruce Willis. 40 not from 58 balls is hardly the plonk-leaver I often define him as.
But India again offered nothing. I’m going to buy a cat and call him Zaheer. He bats as he bowls, almost saying “I’ll have a crack here and see how I go, if I don’t come off, no bother”. I’d rather have my Mum lead the attack. Sharma and Yadav have ticker but lack the support the young Australian quicks have recently enjoyed.
As for poor old Vinay Kumar, he was essentially thrown to the wolves. Apparently he can bowl, but at 125 km/hr with David Warner in full flight, it wasn’t pretty. Dhoni bringing him back nearing Warner’s ton showed the skipper’s headspace, he was praying for Warner to overplay nearing a milestone; buying rather than trying.
Day two and I expect more of the same. Kohli and Sehwag will have a lot of work to do, fields back as Warner, Cowan and co. aim to cash-in on a drying wicket under a hot sun. One team’s showing enterprise and enthusiasm, one’s showing absolutely nought.