It was a lovely day of Test cricket. There was a no sunshine but many of the old Test cricket cliches came true.
Bowl a consistent line and length and success will come your way. Pat Cummins bowled a relentless spell to begin the day’s morning and reaped benefits.
Give the first hour to the bowler and enjoy the rest of the day to yourself. Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill went through the grind of that testing spell from Cummins. While they fell at the brink of the spell’s conclusion, Ajinkya Rahane and Co. moved forward as batting became easier as the day progressed.
Catches win matches. Australia dropped Rahane twice and now find themselves in a mess - Criclytics give them only a 3 percent chance to win or save this Test - as India lead by 82 runs at stumps on Day 2.
Having mentioned that, one should not credit Rahane’s hundred to luck. It was an innings of utmost determination by India’s stand-in captain. When he walked in, after Gill’s dismissal within the first hour of play, Australia were threatening to bowl themselves back into the contest.
Along with Hanuma Vihari, Rahane first ensured India did’t lose any wickets in the second hour of the morning session, seeing off Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. Post Lunch, he was solid in a breezy 57-run stand with Rishabh Pant. In the last session, he continued to be at his best, forging an unbeaten 100-run stand with Ravindra Jadeja. He put his incessant habit of falling at inopportune times behind him, reminding everyone of his younger self who established his Test career on the back of consistent overseas performances in 2014/15 season.
Moreover, the first of the two dropped catches came when Rahane was 73. At that point, India were already 37 runs ahead of Australia.
Aussies losing the grip
Australia will be disappointed to err in their line and length after a brilliant first hour with the ball. Run-rate in the second session elevated to 3.8 runs per over from 2.1 in the first. Cummins, Australia’s best bowler of the day, leaked runs at an economy of 6 in his second spell of four overs. He was taken over by Pant, who scored 12 runs off his first over post the drinks breaks. Next over, Pant deposited Nathan Lyon for a boundary through cover which brought the deficit under 50 runs, shifting the pressure towards the Australian camp.
Pant mixed caution with aggression nicely for a while until Starc was introduced to the attack. He started with a short ball close to Pant’s body. The left-hander went for a non-existent cut shot, only to edge the ball, becoming Starc’s 250th Test wicket.
Australia resorted to the short-ball strategy for Jadeja prior to Tea but were unable to dismiss him as India went into Tea only 6 runs behind. Hazlewood did maintain a good economy-rate in this period (1.6) and induced only 11.1 percent false shots which was the highest by an Aussie bowler in the session - another number underlining the ineffectual Aussie bowling during this phase.
Post Tea, Australia appeared to be waiting for the new ball. After a wait of nearly 17 overs, the Indian skipper sliced the new cherry in the first over straight to the second slip. The ball, however, burst through Steve Smith’s hands at that position. Both Rahane and Jadeja did not allow any further chances. Jadeja was firm with his defence and the pair have now put 104 runs for the sixth wicket sinking Australia’s ship.
Rahane completed his hundred with an authoritative cut shot to a wide delivery from Cummins. In the last over of the day, Rahane was rushed by a Starc bouncer. The ball lobed up to Travis Head running in from point who spilled another chance in an inexplicable manner. While Rahane received medical treatment after being hit on the gloves, a passing shower brought a premature end of the day’s play.
Persistent Pat in the morning
Earlier in the day, Cummins bowled a relentless 8-over spell in the morning, showing off his skills and stamina. He consistently touched high 140s and bowled in the channel. There was an appeal on the very first ball of the day - by Cummins - which was turned down by the umpire. Success evaded him for a long time.
Ultimately, Gill edged one on a loose drive through to Tim Paine behind the stumps. Next over, he found Pujara’s outside edge with a peach. Paine took a brilliant catch one-handed catch making amends after spilling a tough chance of Gill earlier in the second over of the day’s play.
Cummins induced 22.9 percent of false shots in the first spell - the highest in any spell by any bowler today - with only one delivery hitting the stumps. This shows how testing his first spell was in the channel outside the off-stump. But his overall false-shot percentage during the day came down to 18.5 percent, underlining his and Australia’s struggle as the day progressed.