Vineet Ramakrishnan/Zeenews Sports
Perth: It was like waking up to your worst nightmare and finding out that it is actually happening. India going into Perth 0-2 down in the series were not even given the tag of an underdog by the Aus media and by the end of Day 1 at the WACA, the underdog tag might have been an overstatement.
After India were shot out for 161, David Warner took the centerstage with a blistering 69-ball 100, the second of his career and the fastest by an opener in Test history. Within months of his Test debut, this so called ‘T20 star’ has put his name among the likes of Vivian Richards, Adam Gilchrist and Roy Fredricks.
But even before the Warner ‘Blitzkrieg’ which blew away the Indians, a clinical bowling display from the Australia had the Indians in total disarray. At Sydney, India had managed 191 and at the WACA it became 161. Another abject batting performance from India had the air of inevitable in it. India got shot and if you are thinking this collapse was the WACA effect, well it was not; it was the ‘cannot exactly pinpoint’ effect often mentioned by Dhoni in press conferences.
The Indians were not at all caught hopping on the WACA track, rather, the demons of WACA got the better of the batsmen’s skills. Australia played the game of cricket according to the script and India got pummelled with the mind games.
The problem as usual, started from the top. The first wicket fell for just 4 runs and the opening partnership between Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir failed again. The real partnership of any substance came from Gambhir (31) and VVS Laxman (31) and even they could not stay long on the pitch
Like a well-oiled machine, the pacers worked in tandem and they knew the conditions well. Michael Clarke with his rotation of bowlers was ultra proactive and the results yielded rather quickly.
Peter Siddle is the designated leader of the bowling attack and with his spirited performance over and over again one cannot take that position from him, but the way Ben Hilfenhaus has transformed himself in the series, it would be fair to say that Big ’Ben’ could also lead the attack. The leading wicket-taker in the tour so far ended with a tally of four wickets ably supported by Siddle (3 wkts), Starc (2 wkts) and Ryan Harris (1 wkt).
The Aussies 4-pronged pace attack had delivered late in the first session, and with four wickets down India were in a spot of bother at lunch with 73/4. Then, Virat Kohli (44) and Laxman were in the middle at the start of the second session and both were in the middle till ten minutes before the end of the session’s play and it was a familiar sight thereafter. Siddle persisted and got the breakthrough in the form of Kohli and Laxman back to back.
Handing the advantage might seem redundant and gifting would be more appropriate. For young Kohli, he curbed the greed of hitting the outside off-stump deliveries throughout his innings. Only once before he ventured into the dangerous territory and scooped it to mid-on; he had survived. Second time around again, he was a bit too early into the shot and with Warner patrolling the point region, Kohli was sent packing.
Laxman, after playing in a shell came out with brilliant shots only to be undone by a spirited Siddle. Clarke did not seem to have any problem rotating his pacers in the intense heat as they made his job a lot easier.
From there on, it was about wiping out the tail and Australia activated the kill switch and like a well organized battery of missiles, Oz pacers started the demolition job.
Then, right from the onset of the Australian innings, David Warner and Ed Cowan looked relaxed as they strode out to the WACA pitch and the way Warner hoisted Vinay Kumar straight over his head for a 76 m long six in the 6th over, it was very much evident that the hosts would be dominating this session as well thus the entire day.
That six from Warner showed his intentions, it showed Australia’s confidence and well it showed the wretched conditions of Team India.
Warner was just warming up, and in a Sehwag-esque manner went on a rampage as the Indian pacers looked hapless on the best batting pitch on the tour so far. First ball of the 10th over, Warner slashed hard at a wide ball and the ball raced to the boundary for his sixth four of the innings. It took him to 46 and in the third ball of the same over, Warner slapped one past point and there was his fifty.
It took him a mere 36 balls to reach the milestone thus displaying the absolute beauty of a batting pitch that WACA is and what Team India have missed out on.
Later, Ishant was introduced into the attack; if the Indian bowling qualifies to be an attack against Warner’s own version of onslaught that is, and Warner remembered the spat he had with the lanky pacer and hoisted him to a massive six over long-on. We have only seen Sehwag do this, but the world is certainly changing with Warner.
Vinay Kumar, the only change in the team was hammered all around the park. Umesh Yadav did show some fight, giving a few bouncers to Warner, but even he was in the middle of Warner’s riot.
All the pacers, including Ishant and Zaheer were culprits of bowling too short and Warner was more than happing to pull his way through. At the other end Ed Cowan went about his business maintaining a healthy strike rate of his own with 40 of 58 balls. Warner finished off the day at 104 off just 80 deliveries which included 13 fours and three sixes.