India must replicate Australia’s top notch fielding to have a chance in the Adelaide Test

Amarjeet Nayak

Pujara was run out on the last ball of the day thanks to a brilliant pick up and throw from Cummins

India ended the first day of the first Test at Adelaide Oval on 250/9 after Virat Kohli won a rare toss and opted to bat. It was a good toss to win as the pitch could be difficult to bat on days four and five, and batting last could pose a significant challenge on this pitch.

However, India’s top order batsmen seemed to be in a hurry to fritter away the advantage almost immediately. The two openers, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were all back in the pavilion with the score at a paltry 41.

A score below 150 was a distinct possibility at that time. It is thanks to the brilliant old-school batting of India’s number three, Cheteshwar Pujara, with some contributions from Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma, and Rishabh Pant that India managed to reach 250.

With only the last pair to bat, India is unlikely to add many more runs to the total on the second day. However, this is a score that gives India’s bowlers a chance. If India can manage to restrict Australia’s first innings lead to around fifty or so, then India will put itself in a great position to win this game, as Australia will have to bat last on this pitch. But conceding a lead of over 100 will make it extremely difficult for India to make a comeback into this match.

In all likelihood, India’s three pace bowlers and Ashwin will create chances. And the Indian fielders will need to take whatever chances come their way, just as the Australians did.

Australia had a brilliant fielding day. The highlight of their fielding was Usman Khawaja’s superb catch at the gully to get rid of Virat Kohli. This could eventually be the turning point in this match as traditionally Kohli tends to score heavily in the first match of a series.

In the England series too, Kohli had scored a century in the first match. Like at Adelaide, at Edgbaston too Kohli had offered a chance early in his innings. Dawid Malan had fluffed that chance and Kohli had then gone on to score a majestic 149.

The ground fielding and catching, especially behind the wicket were sharp all through the day. And they capped an excellent day on the field by running out India’s best batsman of the day, Cheteshwar Pujara on what turned out to be the last ball of the day.

The fielding and pinpoint throw by Cummins with just one wicket to aim at, at the fag end of the day, showcased how the Australian fielding did not let off at any point in the day. The Indian fielders must emulate their Australian counterparts when they come on to the field tomorrow if India is to have any chance in this Test.