As India and Australia play out an evenly-fought second day, we take a look at the five talking points from Thursday’s action:
Hazlewood shines on debut
Playing his first Test, Josh Hazlewood was no where close to bundle of nerves. Confidence was written all over his conduct on the field and his act with the shining red cherry. It wasn’t quite the Gabba strip but the debutant made most of whatever was on offer and kept the Indians under check on the opening day. While he was the pick of the bowlers with two scalps on Day One, Hazlewood went a step better on the second day.
After leaving the field due to cramps towards the fag end on Wednesday, the seamer returned stronger. He drew first blood after removing Ajinkya Rahane – the overnight batsman – early and went on to pick two more to complete a perfect five on debut. His lines were right at the money, and the probing length kept the Indians guessing around the off-stump.
India were in a very good position at 311/4. All they needed from there was a watchful start and a solid platform for the likes of MS Dhoni and Ashwin to throw their bat towards the end. Though they, somehow, huffed and puffed to a score in excess of 400, a lot more could have been achieved.
Since there were no such demons in the pitch, India would be gutted with the effort. Wickets fell at regular intervals and the visitors could only add 97 runs to their overnight tally.
David Warner has been in auto-pilot mode in 2014. Tons after tons and runs after runs have flown off his blade. The Adelaide Test gave India enough food for thought as the dasher smoked consecutive tons. In reply to India’s 408, it was important that Warner gets going for Australia.
The little dynamo did get going but not for long. He was in command of proceedings, scoring boundary after boundary, before a Umesh Yadav delivery hurried him on the back-foot and all he could do was edge it for Ashwin to take a simple catch.
It was grit all over his 79-ball 55. He was willing to spend time, willing to fight it out and willing to score runs for his side. The ten boundaries he hit were convincing, footwork assured and platform was laid before he, like Warner, top-edged one. Come second innings, we would know whether he plays his last or best innings for Australia.
Fast, express, bouncer, erratic, yorkers and Umesh Yadav. All sound better when narrated in one breath. Yes, he was fast, yes he was threatening but he was way too erratic. It is always a captain’s delight to have a bowler who can hurry the batsman, but a nightmare to have one who leaks run at more than five every over.
While Yadav went on to justify his approach with three big wickets, the economy rate is something he has to look at. There were moments of brilliance in his spell, but, again, they were only moments. If pace is the mantra for India Down Under, Dhoni has to find a way to put a stop to this flow of runs.