In what was one of the worst days of Virat Kohli's Test tenure, India were hit in the gut by the relentless Australian bowling on day 3 which married India's diffident approach and resulted in 9/36 disaster. To top that, Shami also got injured and India bowled poorly to get Burns back to form.
Brief Scores: Australia 90/1 (Joe Burns 51* and Ashwin 1/16) and 191 beat India 244 and 36/9 by eight wickets in the first Test.
Cummins-quake blows away India
With India gaining a lead of 53, the pitch getting quickened up, the prospect of facing the rampant Indian bowlers in the fourth innings - it seemed no way out for Australia. They needed a bolt out of the blue, a Stuart Broad-esque maddening spell, which blows away opposition like a pack of cards. So who they look up to do the damage pink-ball specialist Mitchell Starc? Yes, but it's the world's no.1 Test bowler Pat Cummins, who breaks the game for Australia, not for the first time.
Now, unlike the first innings, where he was patient enough to bowl at the top of the off, targeting the fourth-fifth stump line, and testing batsman's patience, in second innings, Cummins had no qualms in going for the kill like an epic predator. He first went for Shaw's head as he bowled a nip-backer ripper to bamboozle his terrible footwork and got him. On the third day, he went on a relentless attack and bowled one jaffa after another. He was using scrambled/cross-seam, which meant some will move, some will go straight, creating doubt in batters head.
His exceptional line and length compelled Pujara to nick with no way out for him. Wickets falling from the other end put Kohli under the pump to play his shots. Sensing the occasion, Cummins like a chess pro dished out a fullish delivery in a wide-ish channel outside off, very well knowing his nemesis and Kohli edged it to slip. His opening burst put down India's chances of winning from 56% at the start of the day to 11% in 40 minutes of play as per CricViz. He bowled with god-like control as just 4% of his deliveries were outside off, the lowest for any bowler. Today, the world bowed down to King Cummins including Kohli.
India's defensive approach laid bare
Australia were terrific with their immaculate line and lengths making full use of the movement but there wasn't exaggerated swing/seam that can justify a total of 9/36. As per CricViz's expected wickets model, the way Australia bowled today, on average, it would have yielded a score of 60-3. In fact, average swing and seam today were 0.58 and 0.66 degrees respectively, which were not the highest for this Test. It's quite apparent, Australia's great bowling was well complemented by India's lacklustre display.
In contrast to India's positive foot movement in the first innings, where they lunged forward to come in the line of the ball, it was absolutely opposite today as they didn't take a stride forward or were too late this innings. Shaw's front foot was still coming in line whilst the ball went through his gate. Pujara got a jaffa, but his feet also didn't move at all even though he played close to the body. Agarwal was completely squared up as he got himself into a tangle. Rahane's poking-bat approach is quite common in SENA countries and today again, he pushed at the ball sans front foot stride, no wonder he was nicked off.
Playing with good intent doesn't only mean to poke at deliveries too wide like Kohli did today. It's about a mindset of positivity, which helps you to get into good positions, which eventually results in runs. That's how Paine batted on day 2, he didn't go for big or loose shots perse but tried to be positive at the crease and it translated into runs. India were in a shell, showed no positive intent, their legs weren't moving, mentally they were on the back foot and Australia ran through them fittingly.
India erring in desperation
After Australia married accuracy with high skill and blew away Indian batting, one expected India to bounce back strongly given the assistance from the pitch. But Indian bowlers erred in times of desperation. They bowled good or short of good lengths and not full in the first innings, a tactic to stem the flow of runs but they surprised the onlookers when they continued with the same plan in early overs in the second innings with Australia needing less than 100.
More than anything, it was pure desperation, either they were too full, or too short with their lengths, the lines were also not up to the mark, at times giving width - sometimes straying on the leg-side. There were streaky edges but quite a few come-hit-me deliveries too. There was no discipline, consistency or a certain plan in place. It was like just try everything and hope something comes off. They took no cue from what their counterparts did early on as all they needed was to hit the right areas and leave the rest on the pitch.
Mohammed Shami's injury also made things worse as he was a bowler, who nailed the right line and length in first innings the quickest, bowling fuller and troubling batsmen. Australian batsmen also had better intent as after first few overs, they were able to connect the ball more convincingly. And to top India's woes, bowlers allowed horribly out of form Burns back to some form as they bowled him short. As per CricViz, 21% of Burns' Test runs vs pace bowlers have been with the pull shot with an average of 70.3. No wonder he started oozing confidence which wasn't seen throughout the season. The inconsistent bowling has certainly put more pressure on India going into the second Test as three-four wickets here would have lifted spirits, which certainly is one of the talking points on a day that can't seem to epitomize 2020 more.