Australia grafted with the bat, Indian regulars did deliver as the second day of the first warm-up game between India A and Australia A lived up to its potential. Australia solved a few problems while identifying another, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was India’s biggest positive.
Australia grapple with opening dilemma once again
Ahead of the 2018-19 series, Australia were scratching their head for a solution to their opening conundrum but had none. The absence of David Warner played a part but there was a larger picture brewing with the Shield not providing enough contenders for the role. There was Joe Burns, Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris raising their hand but were they international quality? There was a tinge of doubt about it. Two years on, the doubt still lingers.
Last summer, Joe Burns did enough to warrant a spot this season but his Shield form coming to the tour game against the Indians has been horrific to say the least. Pucovski hit two consecutive double centuries but the manner with which he batted at the Drummoyne Oval begged a lot of questions. The Victorian could only manage one run off 23 balls he faced but his entire stay was a long nightmare. He survived a close LBW shout in the process and before Umesh Yadav saw his back, there was not an iota of doubt that he was going to be under pressure in Adelaide come December 17.
Marcus Harris was comparatively better than Burns and Pucovski but we all know the struggle of the Victorian whose Marcus North-plus-Justin Langer kind of stance didn’t allow him enough leeway to overcome the Indian pace-bowling quality last time the Asian team toured here. This will take a lot of introspection and careful planning for the Aussie team management if they are to crack the Indian code.
Ravi Ashwin raises his hand for a starting role
Ravichandran Ashwin was a regular in the Indian Test team in home and away conditions but that has changed lately. Ravindra Jadeja’s maverick batting form in the longest version of the game has made him an utility figure in the away conditions, with Ashwin sitting out of the last Test India played in March, against New Zealand in Christchurch. But if the performance in the warm-up game is anything to go by, the Chennai boy can sit firm and stay assured of a place in the starting line-up.
Not only he chipped in with a couple of wickets to break the partnership between Marcus Harris and Travis Head, his execution was pretty perfect. Unlike the previous Test matches, he didn’t experiment a lot, with the major focus being on trivialising his main weapon - the off-break - with occasional carrom balls here and there. The Nic Maddinson dismissal was one of the finest images of the day from an Indian perspective, with the Tamil Nadu all-rounder angling the delivery from his stride before making the cherry turn with the air towards Maddinson’s pads. It was a show of a confident bowler who is in his zone.
Cameron Green solves the mystery, once and for all
When the Australian selectors sat down to pick the squad for the India series, there was a big unsolved mystery in the house. The elephant in the room had to be addressed but none was quite sure. The Western Australian all-rounder’s career-best 197 against New South Wales put him in contention for the India Tests but was he going to be picked as a pure batsman alone since he hadn’t bowled much in the last year after suffering back stress fractures.
Not only he picking up a wicket each against Tasmania was good news for a team that is still fretting over Mitchell Marsh’s on and off tryst with injuries, but also Green proved that he is good enough to be picked as a pure batsman too, with his innings oozing pure class in Sydney. Umesh Yadav tested him with a barrage of bouncers, Mohammed Siraj took the ball away regularly while Ravichandran Ashwin tested his flick game with carrom balls galore, but none of that could really trouble Green who seemed to have been batting on a different pitch altogether.