Vineet Ramakrishnan/Zeenews Sports Bureau
Perth: Never have India, in the recent past, walked off the field with their heads held high with a satisfaction of at least a ‘job well done’ let alone with a feeling of dominating the opposition side in a Test match outside India. At stumps on Day 2 at Perth too, Indians would know that they have not done anything to walk off the pitch with their heads high. With the scorecard reading 88/4 after taking 10 Australian wickets for 155 in a single day, Indians would know that they have missed a rare opportunity.
Opportunities are rather hard to come by and to put Australia on the back foot at Perth is even rarer an opportunity to come by. But, Umesh Yadav (5/93) did peg back the newly built mighty Oz batting on the back foot, momentarily, with a fiery spell akin to what the Australian pacers have been doing all along in the series.
Like at MCG, where the bowlers had performed better than expected and the batsmen worse than anticipated, here also the spark was given by the bowling unit when Australia’s first innings came to an end at 369. A lead of 208 on a good Day 2 pitch at the WACA with the last session remaining should have put India back on the radar, but alas, the disappointments failed to seize from the once famed batting order.
David Warner (180) had shown Sehwag how to bat the previous day and he had continued in the same vein in the morning as well, coming close to breaking the fastest double hundred barrier. But again, the morning session was not at all one way traffic as Yadav’s triple strike halted the Aussie progress.
Ricky Ponting was beaten for pace and line when his middle stump was knocked over by Yadav’s 146 kmph delivery. Yadav had earlier scalped Ed Cowan to break the opening stand of 214 and then got rid of Shaun Marsh (11) and Ricky Ponting (7) in quick succession. Ishant Sharma had started off the proceedings on a positive note but Dhoni, throughout the morning session, was a bit defensive, hesitating to go all out. He kept changing his slip fielders and even had just two in the early hours of the day.
Come the second session, the Australians were wary off Yadav and the pacer made the difference and also made the most out of the bowling friendly pitch taking his first five-for. He finished with 5 for 93 and the wickets of Ricky Ponting (bowled), Peter Siddle (bowled) and Ryan Harris (short length delivery) showed the skill and talent the rookie possesses to be a genuine threat if he gets favourable conditions.
For Australia, it was a David Warner show in the first innings but losing their 10 wickets for 155 is reminiscent of their mini collapses they had in the later part of last year against South Africa and New Zealand. Nevertheless, India won a session for the first time in the match.
But Australia were back with vengeance in the final session and ripped through the Indian top order within first 20 overs and they were back in the driver’s seat. Mitchell Starc, the new kid on the block had the best day of his Test career so far getting the better of Sachin (8) with a beautiful in-swinger after getting rid of Gautam Gambhir (14) with a well directed bouncer.
The only positive for India walking off the pitch on Day 2, would be the presence of an out of form Dravid (32 not out) and an out of sort Kohli (21 not out) gritting it out in the middle, holding a feeble fort.