The Gabba really was Australia’s fortress, at least till the time Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur walked in to bat. But ever since then, the Australian bowling has suffered the wrath, the pain and familiar sorrow returned on Paine’s face, as the visitors reduced the lead to 23 runs.
Josh Hazlewood finds wickets out of nowhere
Australia down, in a spot of bother, who does Tim Paine go to? Is it a salvageable position, can they get a breakthrough? The captain throws the ball to Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins and the result continues, India gets all the edge possible but a wicket? Every time, the hosts find themselves in a position of bother, Josh Hazlewood is introduced into the attack. Immediately, he strikes to put them back on top of the proceedings, something that he has done time and again in these conditions.
On Day 3, it was no different, when Rahane and Pujara had battled out the bowlers from time to time, Paine introduced Hazlewood into the attack. Since his introduction, he found a seam of 1.3 degrees off the surface, which was the best of the day. Against Pujara, during his 94-ball stay, only two deliveries found more seam movement. It wasn’t just enough to beat Pujara’s bat during his spell but moved enough to find the edge, similar to his dismissal in Adelaide. Time and again, Hazlewood manages to find wickets out of nowhere to keep the hosts in the contest.
While he hasn’t been as prolific as his bowling partner Cummins, he certainly has picked up 14 wickets, at an average of 18, best amongst the bowlers (who have played four Tests). He ended up with three crucial wickets (Pujara, Mayank and Rishabh). And according to CricViz yet again, Hazlewood’s accuracy reflects with 58% of his deliveries on good line and length, the most amongst the bowlers in the Test. It was only deserving that he ended up with figures of 5/57.
India middle-order ships wickets in bundles
One brings another, this is what the Indian fans have hoped of their bowlers against the Australian batting unit. But as it has been throughout the series, one Indian wicket has brought another, one set batsman has walked back like the other. Today was yet a similar painting of the Indian batting picture, they got out in packs, leaving a lot for the coming batsmen. While Pujara and Rahane nearly battled out of the first hour, Pujara was undone by a brute delivery from Hazlewood.
In the span of one session, they lost Ajinkya Rahane (37), Mayank Agarwal (38) and Rishabh Pant (23). If that doesn’t turn out to be the turning point of the series, nothing can. The series which has quite been defined by the tight sessions from both sides could be turned around with this one, where the Indian batsmen lost their wickets in packs. Not just losing the wickets in a pack but losing them in a fashion where the set batsmen has always ended up walking back to the dressing room. Either way, the two sessions on Day 3 could end up being a vital defining moment of the series, as Australia aim to keep hold of their record at their fortress in Brisbane.
Washington Sundar stakes his claim rather nicely
On your debut, the last thing you would want to face is the mighty Australians at their very own fortress - Woolloongabba. But if you are Washington Sundar, you don’t really have a choice as you are thrown into the deep end by the management. Ever since he received his cap, the all-rounder hasn’t put a false step, none whatsoever. He superseded all kinds of expectations, not just being a support bowler but rather being an attacking option. Rahane brought on him to dismiss Steve Smith, which he did; then he was brought on to dismiss Cameron Green, which he did; and then once again to dismiss Nathan Lyon.
You’d say a job well done but it was far from over for the youngster. He was brought in to fill the shoes of Ravindra Jadeja, the man who had built a reputation for himself as a batsman in the past two Tests. With a first-class average of 31.29 while having played most of his cricket on turning pitches, a rather meaty wicket at the Gabba would be a daunting challenge. But since he walked out to the crease, he has looked not just menacing but solid. For a large chunk of the Indian fans, it came as a surprise but having played as an opener for a large part of his life, it was his prime duty.
That combined with the honour of representing your nation on the biggest stage, Washington left no stone unturned and put in an ‘A-class’ performance, to not just staked a claim but claimed it with pure class and solid performance.
Australia yet again show their tactical vulnerability
At 186/6, in your own fortress - Australia’s Tim Paine might have been the happiest person on earth, especially on a day where the ball was seemingly doing nothing off the pitch. But as the poor shots seemed to be fading after the middle-order walked off, the lower-order batsmen really put on a show. That’s where they terribly messed up the plan. Caught in between the cross-roads of bowling to the right line and length and bowling bouncers, the Australian bowling unit made a terrible mess of the proceedings. So much so they ended up shelving the game, selling it to the Indian lower-order batsmen.
Both Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar were ably confident because of the defensive mindset from the Australian team. Tim Paine set up a very defensive field placement, which allowed them to rotate the strike in plenty. Not just that, the bowlers were consistently bowling lengths that were calling to be hit. One only can wonder what would have happened if Cummins-Hazlewood continued to bowl the same line and length that yielded the results. However certainly, the tactics from Paine and the management were bamboozling, makes us think whether Australia really wanted a win here.