The Liebke Ratings: India vs Australia second Test

Dan Liebke Columnist

By , Dan Liebke is a Roar Expert

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    One of the all time great Tests ended with India defeating Australia by 75 runs on the fourth day to leave the series tied at one game apiece.

    And let’s be honest, most of us expected Australia to be somehow comically 0-3 down in this series by this stage. If you’d offered us 1-1 after two Tests before this series started, we’d have glued your lips together before you could retract the offer.

    Here are the ratings for the second Test between India and Australia.

    Ugly Aussies
    Grade: D

    Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first, a decision that brought out the worst in Australia. Mitchell Starc dismissed Abhinav Mukund for a duck, and Nathan Lyon picked up Cheteshwar Pujara for 17, bringing Kohli to the crease with India at 2/72.

    The Indian captain made his way to 12 before attempting to leave one from Lyon and being given out LBW. Pretty shameful stuff from the Australians, who unsportingly keep dismissing Kohli in this series when he’s not even trying to hit it.

    Kohli immediately reviewed the obviously out decision, presumably just to give Steve Smith the opportunity to come to his senses and withdraw the appeal. But the Australian captain refused to do so, and Kohli was forced to go.

    How low will the ugly Aussies sink?

    Nathan Lyon
    Grade: A-

    But Kohli’s wicket was just one in an eight-wicket haul from Lyon, who tore through the Indians for just 189 on the first day.

    Such was Lyon’s dominance that he ended the innings by taking the wickets of Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma off successive balls, ensuring he’d be on a hat-trick when he next bowled.

    Sadly, he didn’t manage to complete the hat trick in India’s second innings. In fact, he didn’t take a single wicket in his 33 overs. Still, he was out first ball when he batted. Surely that should have counted as the completion of his hat-trick?

    Nathan Lyon of Australia looks on

    The Marsh brothers
    Grade: C

    Nathan Lyon completed his hat trick with the bat, however, the rest of the team had a hit. (Exception: the very polite Josh Hazlewood.)

    Perhaps the key moment in the innings was when Peter Handscomb was dismissed with the score on 4/160, ensuring that Mitchell Marsh would join his brother Shaun at the crease.

    As he did so, a strange feeling of deja vu came over older fans of Test cricket. Wasn’t this exactly how we felt when the Waugh twins came together to bat against the West Indies in the deciding Test in 1995?

    Could the Marsh brothers replicate the efforts of their Waugh-like predecessors? Would they be able to bat Australia from a position of peril to a position where the series trophy was almost certainly secured? Could they show –

    Alas, before we could even finish the third rhetorical question, Mitch Marsh was gone for a duck to a ball from Sharma.

    So, yeah. No.

    Reboots
    Grade: B+

    Still, despite Mitch’s failure, some excellent batting from Shaun, Matthew Wade and Mitchell Starc helped Australia to 276, a lead of 87 runs on the first innings.

    By this stage, baffled customers had alerted the tech support team that something was going very wrong with this Test series.

    So during the innings break, they turned the cricketing universe off and then back on again, allowing normal service to resume. Oh, sure, Glenn Maxwell wandered on to field for a while when it was unclear whether anybody else had gone off. But, y’know, he tends to do that. He’s very excitable, is Glenn.

    The freshly rebooted Test series saw India secure themselves a lead and end the third day in something resembling control, thanks to a century partnership between Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.

    Starc’s all-rounderiness
    Grade: B

    And yet, Australia were still determined to hack the series. Taking the new ball on the fourth day, Starc bowled a deliciously bonkers spell that saw at least two Harmisonesque deliveries to the slips cordon precede a couple of unplayable snorters that put him on a hat-trick.

    You half-expected the hat-trick ball to go over gully’s head on the full, such was the unpredictability of Starc’s bowling. It didn’t, but, with Josh Hazlewood also chipping in, India suddenly collapsed from 4/238 to 274 all out, leaving Australia needing just 188 to win.

    With such a small target, a case could have been made for Starc batting at four, giving him a license to attack without the pressure of imminent defeat. It might have made a difference in a lowish chase.

    But instead, Australia pigheadedly stuck to their usual batting order and ultimately fell short. Probably for the best. There was a lot of chat before the Test that, based on Test figures and ICC rankings, Starc was the superior all-rounder to Mitchell Marsh and we don’t need to encourage such talk.

    Because if I know the Australian selectors, they’d react to that realisation by dropping Starc from the side just to avoid Mitch feeling bad.

    So, mum’s the word, guys. OK?

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