64th over: Australia 156-7 (Cummins 1, Starc 0) Just the single from Siraj’s latest over, one that ends with Starc fishing outside his off stump. I can’t see the No.9 hanging around here.
Those two wickets are just reward for India’s discipline and application since Tea. Today has been a dream outing for skipper Rahane who has consistently pulled the right reins.
WICKET! Paine c Vihari b Ashwin 13 (Australia 155-7)
Two in quick succession for India! Green’s dismissal upped Paine’s urgency at the crease but after five dots he was unable to get Ashwin away. That set up a slight advance to the final ball of the over but the proceeding leg-glance turned into a thick inside edge straight to Vihari under the helmet at leg-slip. India are rampant!
63rd over: Australia 155-7 (Cummins 0)
62nd over: Australia 155-6 (Paine 13, Cummins 0) Green looked technically accomplished in his knock, one that would ordinarily have been worth 20 or 30-something, but he appeared stuck in a mental rut that he was unable to extricate himself from. Something to work on with the coaches.
Siraj’s spell is now eight overs two for 18. Just what India needed. Ashwin is holding up an end, Bumrah is resting ahead of the new ball, and the misfiring Umesh is not being missed.
WICKET! Green LBW Siraj 12 (Australia 155-6)
Siraj extends his spell into an eighth over (either side of Tea). It has been very impressive. He began by sending the ball full into the right-handed batsmen, targeting the stumps and pads, but now there’s appreciable reverse swing he’s curling gorgeous away swingers in the fourth stump channel. He’s on the money again to start the over, but then Green is allowed to cut a couple, before Siraj gets his man! Wonderful bowling. After a long run of away swingers he nails the one that comes back, beating Green’s drive and pinning him plumb in front. Paine encourages the review, but it was always going to be futile.
61st over: Australia 153-5 (Green 10, Paine 13) Green seems to have befuddled himself against Ashwin. There’s much less turn and bounce than previously but the youngster remains cautious on the crease. That means he’s unable to put away the rare loose ball and rotate the strike. Eventually he takes a couple of steps down the track and milks an easy single, much to the delight of Ricky Ponting on commentary, who is advocating some counterattack.
60th over: Australia 152-5 (Green 9, Paine 13) Siraj is a tad wider to Green than he has been to Paine, but that’s a consequence of that reverse swing tailing the ball away from the right-hander. After two pleasing-looking dots Green is offered a fuller delivery that he pushes down the ground for a single, ending Siraj’s string of maidens. Once Paine is on strike the bowling is tighter, and Siraj almost gets his reward! He induces a genuine edge from Paine but it flies through the vacant second slip region and away for four. It may not have carried had the cordon been reinforced, but Rahane probably missed a trick by not attacking harder with his team in the ascendancy.
59th over: Australia 145-5 (Green 8, Paine 7) More Ashwin – and he gets Green first up! Or does he? It sounded like a regulation outside edge to Pant, but the appeal is declined onfield and Rahane elects not to use DRS – smartly as it happens with Snicko revealing there was no edge. The appeal arrived with Green glued to his crease. He’s shown little intent since Tea and it’s beginning to become an issue. Finally the pressure is relieved a fraction with an inside-edge for a single. Green moves to eight from 50 balls.
58th over: Australia 144-5 (Green 7, Paine 7) Siraj continues to plough his furrow, forcing Paine to defend from his crease with a series of deliveries targeting that area around the top of off stump. The Australian skipper looks tentative, unsure how far forward or back to go. That lack of footwork means he misses out on a full half-volley, then thick edges down towards gully. Another maiden. Australia are at risk of getting bogged down here, if they aren’t already.
57th over: Australia 144-5 (Green 7, Paine 7) From the forceful up-and-at-them pressure of Siraj to the torture of waiting for Ashwin’s floaters to arrive. Paine ekes out a single but it’s hard work for Australia right now.
56th over: Australia 143-5 (Green 7, Paine 6) Siraj is doing an excellent job maintaining the pressure with this old ball that is reversing just enough to force Green to second guess. The debutant has really stepped up for Rahane, finding a groove, and he earns another maiden by giving nothing away in terms of line or length.
Channel Seven covered Paine’s almost run-out very well.
55th over: Australia 143-5 (Green 7, Paine 6) Another teasing Ashwin over. Green’s method is to get forward and use his feet, Paine prefers to hand back and read it off the pitch. After the skipper guides a single through the offside Green then tries to repeat the trick from the last ball of the over, but the calling and running is not precise and India may have Paine run out! Replays show THIS IS AS MARGINAL AS YOU COULD IMAGINE – literally a frame in it either way. We’re talking fractions of an inch. The decision is NOT OUT but it could just as easily gone the other way. Paine is a lucky boy.
54th over: Australia 141-5 (Green 6, Paine 5) Siraj also continues the spell he began before the break, an impressive three-over burst that included his maiden Test wicket. His method is straightforward; full and straight, angling into the right-handers from wide on the crease – not dissimilar to Makhaya Ntini in his pomp. The one exception is a regrettable bouncer that Paine is onto in a flash, swivelling and pulling with superb timing for four through square leg. Australia could do with another Adelaide-like counterattack from their skipper.
53rd over: Australia 136-5 (Green 6, Paine 0) Ashwin resumes by teasing Green with his artfully flighted off-spin. The man in his second Test is watchful at the crease as the chatter builds in volume around the bat. After defending five deliveries he tries to capitalise on some width but carves a backfoot strive straight to point.
The players are back out for the final session. a massive 38 overs still to go, which will doubtless take us all the way to 6pm local time, and even then we might not fit in the full 90.
“Morning Jonathan,” afternoon Finbar. “Nearly 5am here in the hills of Piedmont. Had to pinch myself to check that yesterday was real, did the rain of Christmas morning really oh so gently turn into softly falling snow as we unwrapped presents? Were each and every one of us genuinely pleased and surprised by every gift? And did we actually have a beautiful early evening stroll in a white wonderland, boughs laden and rosy-cheeked neighbours of goodwill calling out Yuletide greetings? You’re waiting for a horrible return to reality? Perhaps that will come today but for now, thank you to whoever organised our 25th December, we really needed that.
And now cricket; we sadly have lost John Edrich, one of the oh so dependable members of that seemingly undismissable batting line up of my boyhood: Edrich, Boycott, Graveney, Barrington, Cowdrey and, my first super hero, Basil D’Oliveira. Sigh!
I have a question, a curiosity that has long niggled away at me; why and when did Aussies begin saying wickets before runs?”
Pretty much right from the outset, Finbar. It’s one of those quirks of history that the first scoreboard erected in the 19th century placed wickets before runs and that convention took hold. Anyone who continues the tradition (i.e. all of Australia) is clearly wrong.
TEA: Australia 136-5
Another session goes India’s way. The visitors have held onto their catches, Rahane has captained smartly, and in Bumrah he has a gem that is capable of breaking any game open. His partnership-breaking dismissal of Head transformed an afternoon cruise for Australia’s fourth wicket, and instead the hosts are down to their last recognised batsmen. A long and decisive evening session awaits after a spot of tea.
52nd over: Australia 136-5 (Green 6, Paine 0) Another huge LBW appeal from Siraj, this time against Green, and Paul Reiffel again declines the offer to raise his finger. He does however shift a pebble from hand to pocket, teasing us all and making Green sweat. Replays suggest it was a good call with the ball hitting the tall Green high on his leg. This recent rash of induced false strokes may well be the consequence of that reverse swing I was unable to locate earlier.
51st over: Australia 135-5 (Green 5, Paine 0) Green continues to look assured against Ashwin, getting in a huge stride to disrupt the spinner’s length then taking advantage to rock back and milk a single in the offside. Paine, by contrast, is still a tad jittery early in his knock.
Question – who does Green remind you of? I’m reaching for stylistic comparisons but they all fall down due to his unusual size and gait.
50th over: Australia 134-5 (Green 4, Paine 0) Big over for India, and Siraj. He was fortunate to claim one huge wicket, then unfortunate not to bag a second.
Paine survives, but India retain the review after ball tracking showed the ball glancing leg stump.
Siraj is adamant he has Paine pinned LBW. The umpire is unconvinced and Rahane needed plenty of persuasion to accept the review…
WICKET! Labuschagne c Gill b Siraj 48 (Australia 134-5)
Siraj has a wicket on debut, and it is the massive scalp of Labuschange! Again the paceman’s strategy is full and straight from wide on the crease, angling in, and that’s what brings about Labuschagne’s downfall. He tries to glance behind square but all he succeeds in doing is guiding the ball straight into the hands of Gill, perfectly placed at leg gully. India with two quick wickets and back on top of this opening day.
49th over: Australia 134-4 (Labuschagne 48, Green 4) Ashwin deceives Labuschagne in flight first up with his arm ball but the batsman’s hands are quick enough to jam down before he yorks himself. The Australian responds soon after by whipping his wrists and manipulating three runs through the covers.
48th over: Australia 131-4 (Labuschagne 45, Green 4) Siraj gives Bumrah a breather and he’s immediately full and straight at Green, angling the ball into the right-hander from wide on the crease. Green’s technique is correct in response, playing out a maiden calmly in the V and presenting the full face of the bat to repel any danger. Siraj is hiding the ball in his run-up, suggesting there could be some reverse swing on offer. If there is, it’s not visible to my naked eye.
47th over: Australia 131-4 (Labuschagne 45, Green 4) Not before time Rahane calls back Ashwin into the attack. His control of pace and length will provide a challenge for Green. The youngster does well with his first test, defending from his crease then accepting a single to a delivery with a touch of width.
46th over: Australia 130-4 (Labuschagne 45, Green 3) Green spent the first four deliveries of his innings patiently sizing up the conditions, but ball five he takes a long stride forward and checks a drive through extra cover off Bumrah that didn’t just ooze class, it erupted it. That will raise pulses in Green’s army of fanboys and aesthetes (myself included).
45th over: Australia 127-4 (Labuschagne 45, Green 0) Decent line and length from Umesh in a maiden over. The only delivery of note was the last when Labuschagne fell over to the off side attempting a leg glance and India appealing for leg before. It looked to be sliding down the leg side and DRS was not called upon.
44th over: Australia 127-4 (Labuschagne 45, Green 0) Labuschagne is happy to play conservatively against India’s star man Bumrah, keeping his bat and pad close together when he props forward, leaving anything wide, and whipping the one short ball sensibly along the ground to fine-leg. When offered strike Green plays similarly compact.
“I’ve only just got an email,” messages PCD Paris, “you simply have to be on it these days.” Absolument!
43rd over: Australia 125-4 (Labuschagne 44, Green 0) Umesh might be picking up on my criticism. His second delivery to Labuschagne this over is unplayable – too good. It pitches on a length on middle stump and beats the outside edge and off stump. Magical ball. The other four balls to Labuschagne lacked either the same menace or control, but after an easy single Umesh is back in decent areas to Green.
The analyst community is a little miffed India took so long targeting the weakness that ultimately brought about Head’s decapitation.
42nd over: Australia 124-4 (Labuschagne 43, Green 0) He is a treat Jasprit Bumrah. That was a real effort over and a vital partnership-breaker just as the game was swinging Australia’s way. Apologies for repeating myself, but if India’s pace attack was full strength they would be a much more dangerous prospect.