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3.10pm: A first for Wade
So here comes Australia’s new opening pair. A horribly out-of-form Joe Burns (62 runs in nine innings) and Matthew Wade who has never done the job in first-class cricket. It’s a chance for India to get Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith in while the ball is hard.
“I’m not going to turn into an opener overnight, I know that,” Wade said yesterday. “Who knows if it’s going to be for one or two Tests, I’m not 100 per cent sure. But I’ll give it a good crack. I’m lucky that I’ve batted at Bellerive [Oval], which is a bowler-friendly wicket, for the last three years, so I’m confident I can play the ball late enough for the brand new ball.”
— Daniel Brettig (@danbrettig) December 18, 2020
3.00pm: India collapse
That was a shocking start from India. Having had hopes of 300 they have been bundled out for 244, losing four wickets today for 11 and their last seven for 56 overall from the moment of Kohli’s run out. Mitchell Starc has moved into the top-ten Test wicket-takers for Australia, now level with Richie Benaud on 248. India have a good bowling attack themselves, but they will need to be at their best to keep their team in the game – although it is worth noting they made 250 in their first innings two years ago and went onto win.
2.35pm: The first over again
Well, that talk of lower-order runs hasn’t started to well. Pat Cummins produced a beauty to find R Ashwin’s edge as, like yesterday, Australia struck in the opening over of the day. And in the next over, Wriddhiman Saha had a wild drive at Mitchell Starc to give Tim Paine another catch. Even 250 is a way off now for India.
One of the big differences between the two attacks on India’s last tour of Australia was Australia’s inability to attack the stumps with the old ball. Apart from managing more movement with the older ball, India also attacked the stumps more, which showed in how they got 25 bowled or lbw dismissals to Australia’s nine. As early as day one of this series, you could see Australia had made an adjustment. In just one day, they had four bowled or lbw dismissals. And how is this for a stat? When Hazlewood trapped Vihari lbw, Australia already had more lbw dismissals in one day than they had all series last time around.
2.20pm: Importance of the tail
Here’s Sid Monga for the first time today:
In the aftermath of the Virat Kohli run-out, it was easy to forget that already R Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha have already added a crucial 27 runs for the seventh wicket. As Cheteshwar Pujara said yesterday, lower-order runs are going to be crucial in a closely fought series. When Australia played in India last, it was India’s lower order, led by Ravindra Jadeja, Saha and Ashwin, that provided the crucial runs. That India could do so almost every game was because India’s tail was used to those conditions and also the Australian attack didn’t have the depth to keep up that intensity for long enough to bowl India out. Quite often, the lower-order runs go with the home team so this is one win India badly want.
On paper, Ashwin is carrying some ordinary form, Saha is the lesser batsman than Rishabh Pant, and the last three are not quite accomplished. They don’t want a repeat of what happened in New Zealand. India’s last five batted four times and added just 195 while New Zealand’s last five racked up 243 in just two attempts.
2.10pm: Australia’s bowling class
Moody: Cummins’ relentlessness was second to none
1.35pm: Covid concerns
Cricket Australia is on alert after the Covid-19 cluster in Sydney’s northern beaches continued to grow. Border restrictions around Australia are being tightened although, as yet, there’s no direct impact on the series. However, the prospects for the SCG Test do not look great. Dan has this update:
Victoria’s state government has announced a permit system for NSW visitors to the south, while at the same time advising their own residents not to visit Sydney for the time being.
This much is vital for the injured David Warner who remains in Sydney with his family while he recovers from a groin strain with a view to playing in Melbourne on Boxing Day. CA is understood to have remained in constant dialogue with the Melbourne Cricket Club around ensuring a pitch is ready for playing back-to-back Tests at the MCG in the event of Sydney’s outbreak growing further.
1.30pm: Catch up
It was a terrific start to the Test series with a closely fought opening day as Australia held the honours at the close thanks to incisions under the lights with the new ball (and that run out between Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli). However, if India can get themselves to 300 they will feel in the game as this surface has a bit in it for the quicks and the spinners.
Here’s Dan Brettig on how Australia were rewarded for keeping the game under control when wickets weren’t coming.
“You never know, we can get to 350 also.” – Pujara
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) December 18, 2020
Day 1 highlights: India finish on 233 for 6 after Kohli 74
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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