Sport Cricket Australia up against it as bats fail to fire in Adelaide
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Australia up against it as bats fail to fire in Adelaide

On your way skipper. Tim Paine dismissed at the Adelaide Oval. Photos: Getty
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Stumps, Day 2: India 250     Australia 7-191

Starc – 8    Head – 61

Ashwin 3- 50

Impatience, indifference and incompetence.

These were the trademarks of a day of toil and frustration for Australia’s cricketers on day 2 of the 1st test in Adelaide against India.

Travis Head’s half-century (69*) was a rare highlight for the Aussies who finished the day at 7-191.

The batting performance was encapsulated by Shaun Marsh who played a trainwreck of a shot to throw his wicket away as play resumed after lunch.

Marsh recklessly drove at a Ravi Ashwin delivery, but with his feet anchored in concrete, he slashed the ball into the stumps to be out for 2.

Captain Tim Paine was unable to arrest Australia’s batting malaise as he was another Australian batsman to offer an edge to Indian wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and was caught behind for 5.

Peter Handscomb did the hard work and looked set to capitalise on a solid start, but he also fell victim to poor technique and impatience and was also caught edging to Pant for 38.

Plenty of early action

Fans arriving early Friday were rewarded with a frantic opening with both India and Australia losing wickets in the opening minutes of play.

Any thought of India’s tail wagging a little longer at the start of day 2 was quickly snuffed out by Josh Hazlewood’s first delivery of the morning on Friday.

When Mohammed Shami aimed a ragged hook shot at Hazlewood’s loosener he edged a catch to Tim Paine as India were dismissed for 250.

At 4-41 India would have looked at a total of 250 as though it were a distant shore. With Cheteshwar Pujara’s pugnacious century, they now had something a to defend.

With Steve Smith and David Warner in this Australian lineup, there would be a sense of inevitability about India’s fate being sealed.

This would be a litmus test of how Tim Paine’s new top order would cope.

In Aaron Finch’s case, the answer was not at all. Ishant Sharma, who some have tagged the worst Indian fast bowler to ever tour, produced a wicked riposte to that theory.

With his third delivery of the innings, he shattered Finch’s stumps and put a huge dent in his confidence as well.

aaron-finch-duck-cricket-test
Australian batsman Aaron Finch walks after being dismissed by Indian bowler Ishant Sharma for nought on day two of the first Test match between Australia and India at the Adelaide Oval on Friday. Photo: AAP

Usman Khawaja has had a limited preparation for this series having suffered a knee injury against Pakistan in October.

A trim Khawaja was dynamic in the field on Thursday and needed to be a steady hand with the bat on Friday. He helped guide Australia through the rest of the first hour with debutant Marcus Harris.

Harris was looking comfortable at the crease.

He drove Ashwin to the boundary in consecutive overs but the Indian spinner had the last laugh as Harris popped up a simple catch to Murali Vijay at bat-pad to be on his way for 26.

Khawaja had built a platform for a big innings but as is often the case with this Australian team, he didn’t take advantage.

He was deceived by an Ashwin delivery that took the faintest of touches from his left thumb and after a video review was given out, caught behind for 28.

The Indian tweaker must feel he has Khawaja’s measure, as this was the fifth time he’s claimed his scalp in a Test match.

With the prospect of batting last on an Adelaide Oval pitch likely to take more spin as the match wears on, Tim Paine’s team would dearly love a sizeable first innings lead.

It’s early in the series, but the fear that Australian cricket is not consistently producing top-quality batsmen is on stark display.

Not a single batsman in baggy green averages more than 44 in Test cricket: Khawaja tops the averages at 43.9.

It’s a batting line-up bronzed in mediocrity.

India must sense it. Kohli certainly does.

Tomorrow he may get the chance to prove just how big the gap in class  is between his batting and that of his Australian opponents.

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