India vs Australia: Another day, another batting collapse; Pujara sole fighter
Virat Kolhi smashes bowlers in the nets on match eve
Death, taxes and an Indian batting collapse overseas seem to be the only constants in our ever-changing lives.
There were near deafening noises emanating from the Australian shores that India is the favourite in the Test series considering how weak the current Aussie side is. The noises only told a third of the actual story. The Australian batting is weak, only on paper.
Another third of the story is that Australia has perhaps the best bowling attack in the world and in home conditions, the 'perhaps' is a definite. The most obvious third of the story is that the Indian batting line-up simply falls like nine pins whenever the ball is red and the opposition is from the SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia) countries.
At Adelaide on Thursday, Indian skipper Virat Kohli won the toss and decided to bat first. It took 12 balls overall and 8 for beleaguered opener KL Rahul to head back to the dressing room after nicking a wide delivery to Aaron Finch at third slip.
Cummins (R) celebrates after dismissing Kohli (L) on day 1 at AdelaideQuinn Rooney/Getty Images
Next to depart was, comeback man Murali Vijay, once again caught behind to a delivery where only his bat moved but his feet did not. Then fell the skipper to his familiar foe – not any bowler but the otherwise innocuous wide delivery. Kohli had played 15 balls for 3 runs when he decided to flash at a Pat Cummins half-volley which flew behind and looked certain to fly beyond the slips. Just then, Usman Khawaja took flight himself and grabbed the ball that had gone beyond him.
Vice-captain and specialist in Australian conditions Ajinkya Rahane walked in next and departed next, once again chasing a very wide delivery.
The stage cleared for Rohit Sharma and it seemed like the perfect platform for a batsman preferred over another who played well in his limited opportunities – the ball was 20 overs old and the swing had gone. Rohit, like he does when on song, looked like a million dollar player until he decided to step out and hoick Nathan Lyon straight to debutant Marcus Harris standing at deep square leg.
India was quickly five down and the score had not even reached 100. Rishabh Pant joined the unflappable Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease. Pant played a few of his signature flashy strokes but did not last long as India's Adelaide nemesis-in-chief removed the wicketkeeper with a simple off break.
Ravi Ashwin walked in at number 8 and finally did the logical thing to do – support a top-order batsman who has been hardly troubled by the opposition bowling. The offie and Pujara stitched together India's first meaningful partnership of the tour before Ashwin fell to a good ball from Cummins.
Pujara took India to respectability on day 1 of the first TestPierse/Getty Images
The tail of Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami then hung around long enough to see Pujara bring up his 16th Test ton – a quite brilliant century under the circumstances. But in pursuit of quick runs, Pujara too fell to his most familiar foe – the direct hit.
Pujara's run out at 123 was the last action of the day as India finished on 250-9 with Shami at the crease and last man Jasprit Bumrah set to join him tomorrow morning.