Finishing Day 2 on a high after taking an important 53 runs lead in the first innings, the next morning brought a shambolic batting display from the star-filled batting unit of India cricket team against hosts Australia in the first day/night Test at the Adelaide Oval.
Resuming at 9/1, after another Prithvi Shaw failure overnight, not many expected India to end their second innings at 36/9; yes you do have to let that sink in. A confident batting display from the likes of Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara in the first innings meant experts and fans alike expected India to make the most of the slender lead they got from the first innings. So what exactly went wrong in the second innings on a pitch that was barely a day-old since the visitors batted on.
To begin with, credit must go to the Australians for correcting the mistakes they made in the first innings. While the first innings saw an Indian batting unit being overtly defensive with Pujara leading the cue, Pat Cummins (4/21) and Josh Hazlewood (5/8) came out all guns blazing on Saturday morning.
Expecting Indians to be cautious on this surface yet again, the pace duo maintained an aggressive line and length while bowling at the chest height to expose the fallacies of the star-studded top-order, who were caught in two minds to whether defend or leave the line.
Making the most out of the morning on a lively pitch with a new ball, Hazlewood and Cummins looked in supreme control of their swing in home conditions and that resulted in India losing their entire top-order within 6 runs on the day. Cummins did the early damage by wrapping up nightwatchman Jasprit Bumrah and Cheteshwar Pujara in quick succession as the game of edging the ball behind the stump followed.
The hunting in pair soon began with Hazlewood removing opener Mayank Agarwal in the very next over in a similar fashion to put the visitors in deep trouble at 15/5.
Saying that, the blame falls on Indian batsmen too for failing to cope up with the pressure of the Oz’s aggressive bowling. Instead they played the match into their rivals instead.
The pressure of the fall of wicket surely got to skipper Kohli, who had a brain fade moment by his standard. The 32-year-old batsman, who played his last innings at the tour before going on a paternity leave, was caught chasing a delivery away from the body against Cummins that took a fat edge only to be carried to Cameron Green guarding the gully.
It was all formality from that point onwards as Hazlewood ran through the next three wickets while maintaining the aggressive line and length. Wriddhiman Saha (4), Ravichandran Ashwin (0) and Hanuma Vihari (8) looked as clueless as their teammates earlier while a hurt retirement of Mohammed Shami further piled on India’s misery.