When the coin went for a toss, both captains would have been praying to their gods for it to be in their favour. Adelaide greeted both teams with a bright and clear sky above, and a very dry surface below. Conditions ideal for Test cricket, and batting in particular.
Australia won the toss battle and skipper Michael Clarke, without a second thought, elected to bat first. The onus was now on the Indian bowlers to make most of the new ball and get a much needed early advantage in the match and hence the series. The visitors, though, were in for a surprise.
Both Mohammed Shami and Varun Aaron were keeping it too full and too wide to David Warner, who was converting them into boundaries with utmost ease. The little dynamo dispatched the ball to all parts of the park, and got his side off to a flying start.
The new-ball bowlers were bowling in his weak zone – slightly full around the fourth stump – but with no movement on offer, they turned out to be easy pickings for the aggressive southpaw. They couldn’t afford to shift to a shortish line as he’s too good square off the wicket on both sides, so the inexperienced combination stuck to a defensive stump-to-stump line.
In his first six overs – he bowled two spells – Aaron conceded a boundary every over, with the worst being three in an over. He pitched it up, dished it wide and allowed the batsmen – Warner in particular – to free their arms and drive it without any trouble. He was bowling to a plan, but, even after early failure, persisted for too long.
The speedster did bowl a maiden, picked a wicket but conceded as many as nine boundaries during his spells in the morning session, and went at over 6 an over.
Shane Watson’s wicket was the only high point of his otherwise ordinary spell, but even the delivery which scalped the right-hander was not an encouraging one.
Introduced as the first change, Ishant Sharma was the pick of the bowlers for India. In a session where boundaries flew off the Australian’s bat, Ishant conceded none. He gave no scoring opportunities and bowled in a brilliant channel. He was neither too full nor too short, and bowled a slightly back of a length.
The lanky seamer was rewarded for his efforts in his second over when he got rid of Chris Rogers, who was out fishing around his off-stump. While the other two seamers were struggling, Ishant felt ‘ball ulta ho raha hai’ (ball is reversing) as early in the 10th over. If the Delhi lad continues in similar fashion, he’s in for a good Test match.
Captain Kohli makes a statement
Karn Sharma earned his Test cap, and the announcement was made at least an hour before the toss. The Railways spinner was picked ahead of regular spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, and Kohli, much before the match started. It was a clear statement.
This stamp was not only restricted to the build-up, but reflected on the calls Kohli took in the middle. May it be different field settings, an inexperienced new-ball combination or the plan against the Australian openers, Kohli was, if nothing else, different from regular skipper Dhoni.