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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Vijay leads India to ascendancy: T2 D1

India 4/311 (83ov, Vijay 144/213b/22x4, Rahane 75*/122b/7x4, Hazlewood 2/44) v Australia: T2/4 D1/5 at Brisbane.

Steve Smith, who I think is the best person to captain Australia in the  current circumstances, didn't have a great first day in charge. He lost the toss and, at different times, several of his bowlers. Mitchell Marsh took his first Test wicket but was sidelined with an apparent hamstring injury. Josh Hazlewood,on debut, took his first and second Test wickets yet both he and Mitchell Starc spent time off the field trying to deal with injuries and the Brisbane heat. 

Australia rested Ryan Harris ("soreness" was the official explanation) and omitted Peter Siddle from the winning T1 team. Siddle ended up spending a lot of time sub fielding for Mitchell Marsh, Hazlewood and Starc, but I doubt whether, even if he was in the eleven,  he would have made much difference on a Gabba wicket which perplexed even Mitchell Johnson and, until late in the day, Nathan Lyon. The heat also took its toll - the Channel 9 cameras captured some great images of sweat pouring out of bowlers running in.

For the first half of the day the match was, allowing for the fluctuation which always follows the fall of a wicket, evenly poised, or maybe slightly in Australia's favour, as India declined to 3/137. The third wicket was that of the star of the Adelaide Test - Virat  Kohli - caught behind from a modest stroke for a modest, but efficiently compiled 19, which may have encouraged the Australians to think that it was downhill all the way from there.

It wasn't, as Murali Vijay showed. He accumulated assiduously until he passed 90 when, casting out the demons of his Adelaide befuddlement which led to his dismissal for 99, he hit out, moving to his century, and beyond, in the twinkling of an eye. 

Ajinkya Rahane supported him well in a fourth wicket partnership of 124, which was broken by the persistent Nathan Lyon who, after going as he'd done at Adelaide for many, induced Vijay to jump wildly down the pitch and be adjudged caught behind (he was also stumped). Then Rahane and Rohit Sharma continued to take advantage of a depleted home attack, Hobson's choice Shane Watson sharing the second new ball when Hazlewood limped off injured. 

Even with the extra half hour - ie six and a half hours play-  Australia could only bowl 83 overs. Injuries and heat notwithstanding this is unacceptable. India took advantage of the longer last session and the Australian injuries to bat themselves into a strong position which, unless wickets fall quickly on D2, become increasingly impregnable.

<a href="">Scorecard</a>

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