Sunday, 26 March 2017

India v Australia, 4th Test, Day 2 talking points: Indian batsmen fail to build on starts


  1. Rahul played extremely well till rush of blood cost him his wicket
  2. Pujara is the highest run-scorer this season
  3. Karun Nair registered another failure
Talking points from the second day of the fourth Test between India and Australia at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala on Sunday:

Rahul fails to make it count, yet again
Lokesh Rahul played extremely well till rush of blood cost him his wicket, yet again. Remember that rash shot he played against England in the fifth Test in Chennai when he was on 199? Today also Rahul was guilty of throwing away his wicket after scoring his fifth fifty of the series. Dropped on 10 by Matt Renshaw at first slip, Rahul did all the hard work to get to his fifty, but when the time came to reap dividends of that hard work, he simply threw it away. Rahul left well, drove elegantly and slog-swept Steve O'Keefe for a six en route his fifty. Pat Cummins kept peppering Rahul with bouncers and followed them up with some words. It went on and on till Rahul's patience finally gave way and he tried to pull a short-pitched delivery from well outside off-stump but the ball hit the toe end of the bat and flew to David Warner at cover. He is the third Indian batsman to hit five 50-plus scores without a 100 in a series after Dilip Sardesai (against England in 1964/64) and Gundappa Vishwanath (against Australia in 1977/78).

Pujara tries his best to blunt it out
Cheteshwar Pujara is the highest run-scorer this season and there was no better batsman than him in the Indian line-up to blunt it out against the rampaging Australians who smelled blood after the dismissal of Murali Vijay. Fresh from a match-saving double century in the third Test in Ranchi, Pujara lend solidity and calmness to the Indian innings during his resolute knock of 57, taking 151 deliveries in the process. India were on the backfoot after his dismissal in the first over after tea. For the record, Pujara has 1316 runs under his belt at an excellent average of 65.80. The Aussies must have heaved a big sigh of relief after Pujara's dismissal.

Rahane on the rampage
With the dismissal of Rahul, India looked in a spot of bother at 108/2. In walked Indian captain for this Test Ajinkya Rahane at No.4 and made his intentions pretty clear after two dot balls. Taking the attack to the Aussies, Rahane pulled a Cummins delivery over mid-wicket for four. In a typical fast bowler's response, Cummins banged another in and Rahane went for the pull shot again but got a massive top edge and the ball went flying over the keeper's head for a six. No wonder Pujara had to rush to the other end to calm down his skipper who was going for his shots when the need of the hour was to stay safely at the wicket.

One-inning wonder?
26, 0, 23, 5. These are Karun Nair's scores since that magnificent unbeaten 303 against England in the fifth Test in Chennai. More than the low scores, it is the manner of the dismissals that are troublesome. In the first innings of the second Test of the series in Bangalore, Nair was stumped by Matthew Wade off O'Keefe. Nair got a peach of a delivery in the second innings and was clean bowled by Mitchell Starc for a first-ball duck. Nair was again bowled in his only innings in Ranchi, this time by Josh Hazlewood. And in Dharamsala when India are a batsman short in the absence of Virat Kohli, the team needed Nair the most but the youngster fell to Nathan Lyon for 5. Nair may still get another chance in the second innings to make up for his failures.

DRS, at last
Much hue and cry has been made over the Decision Review System in this series. Kohli has been at the receiving end for his judgmental errors in asking for the reviews. But no Kohli in this Test and surprisingly no review was sought by either team on Day 1. The review finally made its return on Day 2 after 75.2 overs in the Indian innings when Rahane padded up to a flighted delivery outside off by O'Keefe. Steve Smith promptly asked for the review but the replays showed that the ball was not hitting the stumps. And just when the reviews were reset, the Aussies took their second on the penultimate delivery (79.5) when Wriddhiman Saha tried for a paddle sweep against O'Keefe. But the replays showed that the ball was going over the stumps. Australia took their third in the 82nd over and this time too against Saha off O'Keefe but that was wasted too. Ravichandran Ashwin took India's first review when he was trapped plumb in front by Lyon in the next over and the replays showed the ball hitting middle stump.

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