#INDvAUS: The great Indian collapse – Hosts lose last 7 wickets for 11 runs, their 105 is 5th lowest total against Aussies; O’Keefe takes 6/35; Visitors lead by 298
India captain Virat Kohli walks back dejected for second-ball zero in the first Test against Australia in Pune on Friday, (Right) Australia’s Steve O’Keefe acknowledges after taking six wickets on Friday (AFP)
It was the kind of collapse that India are used to engineering on the opposition. It was the kind of embarrassment that India are used to inflicting on the opposition. It was the kind of thoughtless cricket that India are used to making the opposition play.
The tables have turned for the first time.
The hosts, scripting one victory after another at the back of their spin strength in this long home season, were left dismantled by Australia’s turning wizards on the second day here on Friday.
Stung hard by Steve O’Keefe’s spin and Mitchell Starc’s pace, Virat Kohli and Co. were wrapped up, neatly and precisely, by the visitors for 105. India’s sorry batting display handed Australia an immensely handy lead of 155 in the first innings.
Ravichandran Ashwin struck three quick blows to reduce the Aussies to 44/3 in their second outing, but a gritty unbeaten 59 by captain Steve Smith took them to 143/4 at stumps, swelling the lead to 298. Every run of that lead is worth its weight in gold on this maidan-like pitch.
Smith took a cue out from India’s tactics when he led his team out on the field after Starc lasted five deliveries at the start of the day to end Australia’s first innings at 260.
The visitors gave the new ball to O’Keefe, with the left-armer having to do the controlling job from one end against the India openers.
After three testing overs from Starc, Josh Hazlewood was brought into the attack, and the tall right-armer did a perfect Glenn McGrath in his first over. After a couple of balls that curved back in, Hazlewood got the next to nip away to catch the outside edge off Murali Vijay to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.
The Aussies got the first Indian wicket in the seventh over, and took the equal number of overs to get the second. And the third.
Starc came back for another short burst, one that was fast and menacing. On a pitch in which balls from other pacers were barely reaching the wicketkeeper’s knees, Starc made Cheteshwar Pujara see the ball near his chin and got it to kiss his bat en route to Wade.
The big one, though, came two balls later. The left-arm pacer tempted Virat Kohli with a full and wide bowl. The India captain, uncharacteristically, fell for it, and the ball took the outside edge to Peter Handscomb at first slip to make it 44/3.
Starc was firing, India were fumbling.
The fumble then turned into a mighty fall.
After a stabilising 50-run stand between Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane, it seemed every Indian wanted to emulate Matt Renshaw on Day One: follow the dismissed batsman back to the pavilion. But while the Aussie did that due to a stomach bug, the Indians did it due to a brain bug.
From 94/3, the hosts were bowled out for 105, losing seven wickets for 11 runs in 54 balls in a post-lunch session of complete mayhem.
Sure, the pitch was turning. Sure, it was hard to score runs. But the downfall of most Indian batsmen was a result of the work – rather, the lack of it – of their own more than the bowlers.
The trend started with the well-set Rahul on 64. A rush of blood saw him come down the track and go for a home run off O’Keefe, but the ball only reached long off.
Two balls later, Rahane was out to an equally harmless delivery, trying to work a ball on the leg. It took the bat’s leading edge and went to Handscomb at second slip, who took a diving one-landed low catch to his right. Ashwin was a tad unlucky, with the ball hitting his shoe and looping to short leg in the next over.
No such excuses for Jayant Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja, though. The former lunged forward to a turning O’Keefe ball without caring about his back foot, which wasn’t behind the line and Wade was alert enough to stump him. Jadeja, hoping to do a Starc with the bat, went for a mighty slog only to be caught at long on by Starc himself.
It was needless. It was thoughtless. Simply put, it was poor batting by India. And it might just cost them the Test.
Did You know?
When Virat Kohli was out for a second-ball duck, it was the fifth time in his Test career that he fell without scoring. This was his first duck after 104 innings in international matches, after Cardiff ODI in 2014.
The No. of wickets Ravichandran Ashwin has taken in 10 Tests so far this season. When he dismissed Mitchell Starc on Friday morning, he took his 64th wicket for the season, moving ahead of Kapil Dev’s 63 in 13 Tests in 1979-80
India’s 105 in first innings is their fifth lowest score against Australia in Tests.
DID YOU KNOW?
The last time Virat Kohli got out for a duck in Test cricket was in 2014 at Old Trafford against England
ALL IN A DAY’S WORK
Double blow by Starc
Mitchell Starc lasts just five balls in the morning as Australia are bowled out for 260. Josh Hazlewood picks up the early wicket of Murali Vijay and Starc gets two in three – Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli.
At lunch: India 70/3 in 25 overs (KL Rahul 47*, A Rahane 6*)
India suffer dramatic collapse
KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane add 50, but the former throws his wicket away. A dramatic collapse follows, with the hosts losing the next six wickets for 11 runs. Australia lose two as well in their second innings.
At tea: Australia 46/2 in 16 overs (S Smith 27*, P Handscomb 8*)
Smith leads from front
Peter Handscomb doesn’t last long, but Steve Smith digs in really well to anchor Australia’s innings. Matt Renshaw looks good before departing while going for a big one. But the visitors have a lead of 298.
At stumps: Australia 143/4 in 46 overs (S Smith 59*, M Marsh 21*)