January 15, 2012 by dixwah
Day Two: India (4/88 & 161) trail Australia (369) by 120 runs
The second day at the WACA showed talk of Australia being back near the top of world cricket is probably premature, but we’re still way ahead of hapless old India.
The difference in Perth has been the form of each side’s game-changing opener and the combination and discipline of the quicks.
David Warner is on par with Michael Clarke as the most important player in the Australian side. In eight Test innings he has played two extraordinary digs of great contrast; his valiant rescue effort in Hobart was as mature as his 180 here was belligerent. He’s world-class, get on board as he’s gong to win a lot more games for Australia when in form.
However, it’s not fair to embrace and encourage the way he plays and then open him up to scrutiny when it doesn’t come off. Skying one to point on 15 and your team ends up rolled for 150 and Warner must be allowed the Jesse Ryder defence*.
Phil Hughes would be the first to know that noone cares how you bat until you stop scoring runs.
Warner played a role very similar to an in-form Virender Sehwag in times past. The game was taken away from India after tea on day one and consolidated on day two. Unlike Sydney, the middle order missed out, making Warner’s contribution pretty much the difference between the two sides. Australia v.2012 and beyond needs individual match-winners, Warner can lead the charge.
Sehwag is Warner gone bad at the moment. His technique relies on balance, and since arriving in Australia it’s like he’s been struck with vertigo. 118 runs from six innings, and like the previously-suffering Ponting and Hussey, he’s relying on a lack of compatriots knocking down the door to retain his place.
While Australia collapsed somewhat to go from 0/214 to 369 all out, the damage had been done. Softer souls than me claimed it was a good fightback. A fightback would get them 200 in front and back in the match. The won a session, Test cricket has 15 of them.
Umesh Yadav is doing it on his own over here. Sharma beats the bat but is 2011-Siddle like in that he is rarely rewarded in the W column. Yadav is young, sharp, tough and clever; the makings of a future star. In contrast Zaheer, the leader of his bowling unit, is ageing, meandering, soft and weak. Yadav’s balls to rissole Ponting and Siddle in particular were absolute pearlers. He’s the one guy in the team who can hold his head high.
Shaun Marsh and Brad Haddin are the question marks at the moment. Marsh is a strange one. I criticised his selection in Sri Lanka on the back of a streaky first class record and poor average. He showed me up. He’s now feeling his way after a back injury and runs in hit-and-giggle. Test cricket is not the place to find form, and Watson seemed poised to take the Sandgroper’s spot for Adelaide. Marsh needs to recuperate and then dominate Shield. I’ve turned, and think we need him somewhere in the six to win the Ashes next year.
Speaking of form, and Brad Haddin can join his mates Zaheer and Kohli in talking a better game than he’s playing at the moment. Another duck here, and the knives are out. The selectors essentially played their hand making Haddin v-c, he has Adelaide to repay the faith.
Day three is time for Kohli and Dravid to step up. Dravid is timing the ball well and then getting bowled, he’s overdue and I think still has it. Kohli needs to repay the faith. He averages 22 and has 11 Test innings behind him. Petulant kid or brash talent? Man or mouse? His fate is decided today.
What do you think of Australia’s batting at the moment? It’s better than India’s, but what’s the best mix for England and beyond. Where should Watson come back?