When India lost the toss, there was a familiar feeling of uncertainty at the Gabba for the Indian fans but the first spell from the pacers gave enough hopes, with two quicks wickets. However, since then, it has been all Australia, with Marnus Labuschagne riding on his luck to a triple-figure score.
India dig deep to find gems amidst desperation
In between Mohammed Siraj, Thangarasu Natarajan, Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini - India had 11 wickets in stark comparison to Australian pacers, who have 1046 wickets in between them. Now while that might not be painting quite the right picture, this is India’s sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth choice bowlers going to hunt in a pack of wolves at Australia’s own paradise Gabba. If that wasn’t enough, an injury to Ravichandran Ashwin gave an unlikely debut to Washington Sundar while Kuldeep Yadav stayed ignored.
Before the Test series began, this bowling attack had only bowled a grand total of ten deliveries. Despite all of that, despite hanging on the thinnest of threads, the way these bowlers came out to bowl in the first hour of play - signalled that the new India isn’t berated and bowed out of the contest. It was everything that they had hoped for - good line, length and importantly, the aggression that outplayed the Australian - 1.1 degrees of swing, the most they have found this series, according to CricViz.
With a long Test season yet to unfold in front of them, the Indian management would be rather happy with the proceedings. This series has indeed allowed them to dig deep in the cauldron where they have found more stars than they have in the last decade. Even if the stars are aligning back, the new-age bowling pack certainly has shown enough to stay and Mohammed Siraj, who has seen more trolls than fans in the IPL season, has earned his tag as the leader.
Australia’s partnership frailties continue to be exposed
Prior to the series, the talk of the town was about this beast batting unit that Australia possessed, one that seemingly tonked Pakistan and New Zealand. If building a partnership and banking on it is an art, Australia still has to learn and master that. Seemingly after all those daddy-partnerships in the earlier home season, Australian batting have failed to stitch any monumental partnership, be it Warner-Pucovski, Warner-Harris, Wade-Burns. If you remove Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith, who have scored 596 runs, the rest of the batting unit have only accumulated 562 runs.
The Gabba Test was no different, 80% fit Warner was yet again an experiment gone wrong, Harris giving away another start. If not for the partnership between Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith, Australia would have been washed away by the Indian bowling during the first sessions on Day 1 in Brisbane, where batting was expected to be easier than the bowling. One thing that has haunted Australia perennially in the series has been their lack of intent to convert partnerships into huge ones. When Smith departed, it was just yet another instance showing their incapability.
The Ebbs and flow of Marnus Labuschagne
When Marnus Labuschange stepped onto the field, the hosts were once again in tatters. Warner had just exited for another low score and the pressure was on the right-hander to steady the ship yet again, against an Indian pace attack which was breathing fire. Immediately, he quashed the spirits of the visitors, with a bat as straight as an arrow. Not just that, the way he handled the pressure when the left-handed Natarajan was steaming in his follow-through was mightily impressive. But the larger theme of the series has been his luck at the crease, once again epitomised in highlights. When Saini had gone past his bat, finding that thick edge, Ajinkya Rahane, out of all people dropped the simplest of catches - the ebbs of his innings.
And when the flow started, the flashback was pretty certainly flashing in front of the Indian bowling unit, who once again in the series had to pay a price for their fielders. Even if he didn’t have Smith at the other end, Marnus showed that his batting isn’t for the faint-hearted. Going to the deep of his crease, the right-hander cut one-off Washington Sundar before he was back again with his cover-drives. In all, when the runs and his confidence starts flowing, there is no stopping the chirpy lad, who keeps thriving on the pressure and putting up spectacular numbers - onto the top of the leaderboards. 386 runs in this series thus far, Marnus has pretty much raised the batting bars in the country of Kangaroos.