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Who’d have thunk it? A few takes from the first Test

Roar Guru
20th December, 2020
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Roar Guru
20th December, 2020
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The first Test is done and dusted. That I’m writing these words before play should have started on the fourth day is cause for amazement.

I like many others are thinking the same thing, “Who’d have thought we’d get a result like that in less than three days of cricket?”. What other strange or unusual takes came from this match?

Adelaide weather and the pitch – cast your minds back to the Adelaide Test last year and the weather was seriously hot. In comparison this year, with a lazy wind blowing from the south, it was distinctly cold.

Then we had last year’s pitch where Pakistan and Australia combined to score 1130 runs. The total scores in the four innings of this game (564), did not equal Australia’s first innings (3 for 589). Who’d have thought that?

Joe Burns – prior to the game starting most people, including yours truly, were questioning the logic of playing Burns, even though the alternatives were not that flash.

Who’d have thought he’d end up with the best average for Australia (59) and Steve Smith would have a current series average of 2?

Joe Burns

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Opening the batting – under the circumstances, who’d have thought a makeshift pair of openers in Matt Wade and Burns, with the latter in a serious form slump, would put together two opening stands (16 and 70), that exceeded specialist openers in Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw?

In the same vein, who’d have thought Australia and India would have completely different decisions to make about their openers for the Second Test?

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Burns looked decidedly better in his second innings and fully deserved the half century he made. Both he and Wade have given the selectors plenty to think about when it comes to deciding who will partner Dave Warner in Melbourne.

On the other hand, Indian’s vaunted pair of Agarwal and Shaw had their techniques thoroughly examined by the Australian attack and both came up short. The Indian selectors must be wondering whether they keep both at the top of the order, or bring in KL Rahul or Shubman Gill.

Virat Kohli – when Kohli went to sleep on Friday night, his last cricketing thoughts must have been about how many runs would be enough of a lead to allow him to declare or be safe from losing the game.

I’ll bet he didn’t think he’d be having to find the words to accept an eight-wicket defeat inside three days.

Tim Paine – the furthest thought from Tim Paine’s mind on Friday night was winning the man of the match. He would have been working through plans to get the Indians out cheaply, trying to decide what sort of total the team could chase – yet Saturday evening, he was trying to come up with words to express his feelings about a win.

And who’d have thought Paine would be top scorer in Australia’s first innings?

Josh Hazlewood – hopefully the spell from Hazlewood in India’s second innings has dispelled the thought that this guy is not a world-class bowler. He’s shown he can be every bit as lethal as Mitch Starc and every bit as a accurate as Cummins.

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Fielding – a week ago, a Roar contributor made the comment that the side that did the little things right would win this Test. In one way, he was right because who’d have thought India would gift Australian batsmen so many lives through dropped catches?

Yes there were some tough chances, but there were also some fairly straight forward ones that fielders made look way harder than they were. In a low scoring game, India can look back and ponder how few Australia should have made in its first innings, if they’d held their chances.

The Australian attack – I thought the effort by the four Australian bowlers in the series against the Black Caps last summer, was the best piece of sustained pressure bowling I’d seen. I also thought that would be next to impossible to top – until I saw the same guys bowling in Adelaide.

Australia’s been extremely fortunate to have many wonderful pairs of bowlers over the years, but this is the first time, I think, that an Aussie side has had four world-class bowlers who complement each other so well.

They know how to bowl in combinations and the amount of pressure they create by relentlessly forcing batmen to play, is simply scary.

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Who’d have thought the Indian side would be in disarray after one Test? Losing their champion skipper will be a blow, but his departure has been well known for weeks.

Now they have issues at opener, they need a replacement for Kohli at 4, issues with their keeper who was not exactly on song with bat or gloves and a replacement for Mohammad Shami who is out for the series.

Throw in the mental demons they must be suffering after Saturday’s capitulation and they have a lot of issues to address and only a week to make corrections. I didn’t expect that.