When a team bats first and puts up a 500 plus score on the board, it is very difficult for the opposition to comeback and win the game. India find themselves in a similar position in the ongoing Test at the Adelaide Oval. Of course, it was at this very venue that India clinched a famous victory after conceding 556 a decade ago. But, on that occasion India had a much more potent bowling attack, and Ajit Agarkar came up with a freakish bowling effort, wherein he cleaned up the Australian batting in a jiffy. The current Indian bowling outfit is not as good to perform such an incredible turnaround. They should thus try hard to push for a well-fought draw in the opening Test.
The third day of play at Adelaide had some positives for India. They went into bat, with Australia having amassed a big score. India must have been under a lot of pressure considering how poorly they fared in England. But, they came up with a determined batting effort to ensure that they were left with a decent chance to save the game. Knowing well their affinity to collapse under pressure, the Aussies will still be hopeful of making a strong comeback, but at least India have demonstrated that they aren't sitting ducks. Of course, they were aided by the batsman-friendly pitch, and it wasn't a perfect performance by any essence. But, in the wake of their earlier disasters, this was a welcome relief.
Almost all the Indian batsmen got their eye in on Thursday and, with the exception of Shikhar Dhawan, whose technique was exposed again, all of them made significant contributions. The biggest plus of all from the day was the return to form of stand-in skipper Virat Kohli. The India number four had struggled miserably in England, but at the venue where he registered his maiden Test century more than two years ago, he was back to his best. It was a fantastic knock, which ensured that Australia did not have the upper hand at the end of the day's play. If anything, he should be disappointed that he did not carry on and, for the seventh time in his career, fell for under 120.
Three other Indian batsmen also crossed the half-century mark, and made their presence felt during the day. Following the early loss of Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara ensured that there was no further trouble for the the Indians. Back in England, the middle order did not have the luxury of a good start as Pujara kept falling early. But, on Thursday at Adelaide, he stood up to the challenge and, in the company of Vijay, took India to a position of comfort. Later in the day, Ajinkya Rahane also came up with a pleasing knock to keep India afloat. It was an innings during which he looked completely in control.
While most batsmen made significant contributions on the day, there was one common factor of disappointment, and that was pertaining to the dismissals of all the batsmen. All of them fell at inopportune moments when they should have kicked on. Vijay poked outside off stump, at a ball that he should have left alone. Pujara, in spite of possessing a wonderful technique, fell prey to a tentative shot. Rahane got one that bounced, but he could still have dealt with the delivery better. Even Kohli fell to a poor pull shot at a time when he should have pulled down the shutters. Had they hung around, India would have been in a much more comfortable position.
--By A Cricket Analyst