Brilliant centuries by Hanuma Vihari, Pant and reassuring half-centuries from Agarwal and Gill, Indian batting was up and running in the second innings to take a big lead after a poor first innings display. Shaw continued his wretched run of form while Mayank and Gill played their own classy knocks.
Prithvi Shaw needs a break to fix his game
In the wise words of the great Rahul Dravid, "I don’t know the meaning of playing your natural game all the time. You have to play according to the situation of the game. That’s what the great players have done over the years." On day 2 of the second warm-up game, a bright sunny day welcomed Indian openers, with the pitch getting better to bat, but Shaw threw away his hands and also his wicket, yet again on the hint of width. It again epitomized that Shaw's issues not only in poor/lack of feet movement but also his stubborn approach to stick to his natural game even if it comes at cost of bringing his downfall.
0, 19, 40 and 3, this is how his performance in warm-up games read and he has managed to average a poor 15.5 that too against a second-string Australian bowling line-up. In the first innings, there was a visible gap between his bat and pad while in second innings, he had a rather soft dismissal as he couldn't keep the ball down when given width. Playing your natural game is fine but as early as Shaw went for the shot, not spending enough time in the middle isn't justifiable at all. Mayank was also a dasher but now has built up the discipline needed to succeed in Tests, something Shaw can learn. And for all those citing Sehwag's style to justify playing his natural game, for all his Test greatness, he averaged a mediocre 33.11 in SENA nations. Shaw needs to fix his technique, mindset and figure out a way to find success in SENA countries than blindly following the Sehwag school of cricket.
Mayank plays Arjuna to Dronacharya Kohli
Virat Kohli might well fancy a coaching role after his playing career if he continues to deliver results like this. I mean the Indian skipper had turned into a batting coach cum mentor for opener Mayank Agarwal and had worked extensively with him after he got out yesterday, so that his hands remain higher while leaving the deliveries with extra bounce alone, which had brought about his downfall in the first innings when he was caught poking a rising delivery. Virat also worked on his feet movement so that his back toe doesn't get raised as his balance was off resulting in him feeling for the pink cherry with his hands, which was resulting in the nick to the keeper.
Today, Kohli, who was sitting near the fence and was having a close look at the proceedings must be a happy man as his Dronacharya stint did wonders for Agarwal who also played the perfect Arjuna as he made a disciplined 61 to get the much-needed pink-ball match practice. The Test opener was very solid at the crease, leaving a lot of balls against the new ball and to perfection. His movements also mirrored the mental and technical adjustment made, as he played the ball very late, getting in good, balanced positions. Mayank looks all set, ready and fired up for the opening Test after a good session with the skipper in nets and quality time in the middle.
India's lower-middle order clicking
India got a dress rehearsal of life without Virat Kohli in the second warm-up game and after a poor batting display in the first innings that too against a listless bowling attack, they fought back well in the second innings. But more than anything else, it was reassuring for India that their lower-middle-order batting clicked with Hanuma Vihari finally converting his start after failing in first three innings of the practice games on the Tour Down Under. He got a brilliant hundred, had his moments under the pump too but unlike most of the times, didn't throw away the solid start and should go into the first Test with the confidence of a decent ton under his belt.
Rishabh Pant also clicked with the bat after looking scratchy against pacers. Now, one can argue he mostly bullied the spinners including the T20I star against India, Mitchell Swepson and Nic Maddinson but for players like Pant, it's more in the mind than anything else. If he feels confident about his game, then he has the skills and confidence to replicate his form in the Test series against the likes of Cummins, Starc and Lyon as well. And it's not like India would have to primarily depend on him to get big scores, his quick-fire cameos can do the job for the side and for that, this innings which was laced with sixes and even a daredevil sweep against a pacer bowling with a brand new second new ball, it should bode well for the team especially with Kohli missing out in last three Tests, which now puts them in a conundrum - Wriddhiman Saha or Rishabh Pant for the first Test after Pant's century.