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The Liebke Ratings: Australia vs India, third Test

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Expert
11th January, 2021
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With the series locked at one apiece, both India and Australia bravely snuck across state borders, skilfully evading the forces of assorted state premiers in order to play at the SCG.

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

National Anthems
Grade: B-

Prior to the match beginning, the national anthems were sung. More importantly, from an Australian perspective, new lyrics were sung. ‘Young and free’ was out, ‘one and free’ was in.

Still a long way to go, of course, until we get to the preferred national anthem of ‘Come On, Aussie! (Come On, Come On)’, but presumably we’re aiming to get there one word change at a time.

In other lyric alteration news, word also leaked out that the victory song for the Australian cricket team would now instead reference ‘a sprig of wattle in my pants‘.

Not that this change applied for this Test, of course.

Will Pucovski
Grade: B+

Australia had a new opening pair for the Test, with Joe Burns dropped and Matthew Wade moved back down the order to allow for the return of David Warner and the debut of Will Pucovski.

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This had been foreshadowed during the previous Test in the Channel Seven coverage, when Ricky Ponting suggested that if Pucovski was fit, that’d be ‘another headache for the selectors’. Perhaps not the ideal turn of phrase, given Pucovski’s history of concussions, but a valid point.

Will Pucovski of Australia bats

Will Pucovski. (Photo by Cameron Spencer – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Pucovski looked immediately at home at the top of the order, removing any headaches the selectors might have had with the efficiency of full strength codeine. He took strike and survived the first over he faced, thereby already proving himself an upgrade on Joe Burns.

He then went on to make 62 in what statisticians later confirmed was easily the best Test debut innings that took place on a day where the United States underwent an attempted coup.

With Marnus Labuschagne making 91 and Steve Smith 131 (his fifth failure to score double figures in this series), Australia at one point had three of their top four averaging in excess of 60. Time to lift, Warner.

Run Outs
Grade: C

In reply, India struggled their way to 244, with Australia’s trio of quicks, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood taking seven wickets between them.

Cummins was, as always, a nonsense, bowling fast, accurate, seaming deliveries. Hazlewood was only a tiny notch behind him on the unplayable scale. And Starc? Well, he wore a headband, that’s for sure.

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(The headband, presumably, was a not-so-subtle dig at Travis Head being banned (by the selectors) from playing in this Test.)

The remainder of the dismissals came from run outs, with the pick of them being Hazlewood’s effort from mid off. In one motion, he picked up the ball, unrepentantly defied his captain’s request to hurl it to the keeper’s end, and instead threw down the bowler’s end stumps to get rid of a startled Hanuma Vihari.

With Steve Smith’s first innings having also ended with an equally remarkable fielding effort from Ravi Jadeja, this was a Test that seemed unlikely to run out of unlikely run outs.

Cameron Green Height Jokes
Grade: D

Australia’s second innings was primarily a march to a declaration total. Which could have been a problem for Cameron ‘Soylent’ Green.

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In the first innings, the young all-rounder had made a strangely defensive 21-ball duck. Although, of course, when Cameron Green holds up an end, that end is held up higher than any end before it.

(Explanation of joke: Because Cameron Green is very tall.)

In the second innings, however, Green showed his potential with the bat. He scored an impressive 84, teeing off after reaching his maiden Test fifty with a quartet of enormous sixes against the second new ball, in a doomed attempt to score a pre-declaration ton.

Apart from the ball that had him caught behind, the only chance Green gave was yet another run out opportunity when replays showed him not sliding the bat as he strived to make his ground.

How tall is Cameron Green? Cameron Green is so tall that his bat slides are 30cm above the ground.

Last Day Batting
Grade: A

Set 407 to win, India soon fell below the required run rate. But when Rishabh Pant received a surprise promotion in the batting order despite an elbow injury that saw Wriddhiman Saha keep in his place during the Australian second innings, that all began to change.

Pant rode his luck, dropped three times by Tim Paine off the bowling of Nathan Lyon. Paine later dropped Vihari in the final hour of the Test. The clumsiness behind the stumps prompted many Australian fans to wonder if it was permissible for Saha to take the gloves in place of Paine too.

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While the effervescent Pant was in, even an improbable win seemed possible. However, his dismissal, caught by Cummins for a heroic 97, and a hamstring tear to Vihari, saw the mad victory charge abandoned. Instead, India settled in for the draw, with Vihari and Ashwin blocking their way to salvation. An epic result that means we now only need a tie at the Gabba to complete the set.

Still, remember when India used to be all out for 36? Whatever happened to that?

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