Australia’s declaration at 517/7 meant India would come out to bat in the very first over of the day. A better setting than it would have been on a greyish Day 2, India still needed runs from their openers – who have struggled overseas.
A team with a first innings total in excess of 500 gets a spring in their stride. Bowlers start running harder than usual and hit the right areas more often. When Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay walked out to bat this morning, it was a clear sky and an absolute belter of a track to bat on.
If India needed runs first up, Australia were eyeing quick wickets. But what happened next did shake the Aussies a bit, not for long though.
Dhawan in the groove, out of it
The Delhi dasher commenced his innings on a positive note. He was not bogged down against the new-ball duo of Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris, and punished the bad balls with ease.
If nothing, he was positive during his stay in the middle. Deliveries angled in towards his pads were flicked with command, half-trackers dispatched with disdain and looseners cut in fine fashion. Such was his authority during his 24-ball 25 that he hit Johnson for three boundaries in the third over of the innings.
After doing the hardwork of getting set, Dhawan did what he does best – throw his wicket away. A Harris delivery, not doing much but going with angle, exposed the gap between his bat and pad, and the aggressive southpaw inside-edged it back on to his stumps. It was more of an angled bat he presented in that uppish drive he attempted. May be a watchful stroke or a straightish blade could have prevented that early wicket.
Vijay, Pujara solid
India last had an opening stand in excess of 50, away from home, way back in 2011 in England when Abhinav Mukund and Gautam Gambhir reached the now milestone for the openers. Since then, it has been a sorry tale for the Indian top two.
Another early opener wicket meant Cheteshwar Pujara was out to bat as early as the 8th over of the innings. Yes, the pitch wasn’t doing anything silly, but it still needed application to score runs.
Pujara and Vijay combined well for the first wicket and scored at a descent pace in the process. Pujara, in particular, was very solid in his approach and made most of the scoring opportunities on offer. He dealt with Johnson’s pace with ease and countered Harris’ angles with precision.
Vijay, too, supported the No.3 well and kept the scoreboard ticking before he stayed rooted to the crease and poked a fullish Johnson delivery. Thick edge, and Haddin completed an easy catch behind the stumps.
Short and nasty
Vijay’s departure brought Virat Kohli in the middle and the Indian skipper was greeted by a nasty bouncer which crashed into his helmet. It was an ugly duck from Kohli and all the Australian fielders rushed towards the right-hander after the blow.
If nothing, it would have woken him up and set him right for the remaining day.