WICKET! Ashwin c Lyon b Hazlewood 14, India 325-9
Hazlewood to Ashwin, who may have to up the ante shortly. Maybe he trusts Bumrah, who has made a few runs lately. Initially Ashwin seems to be pushing in search of a single rather than lining up anything big. The sun is shining, the weather is cool, it’s good batting weather. Lunch is in 11 minutes. India would love to keep the Australians bowling after the break. But it may not get that far, as Ashwin finally commits to a big drive, gets a thick flying edge, and sees it land in Lyon’s hands at gully. First wicket for Hazlewood in the innings.
114th over: India 325-8 (Ashwin 14) Last ball of the over for the Umesh wicket, which brings Bumrah to the middle with the lead at 130.
WICKET! Umesh c Smith b Lyon 9, India 325-8
Sighs of relief for Australia, another one down. A fairly standard off-break, not huge turn but some, and Umesh plunges forward into a defensive shot, meeting the ball far earlier and far harder than is necessary. That ensures that his edge carries to slip.
113th over: India 323-7 (Ashwin 13, Umesh 8) The partnership is worth 15. Ashwin a dirty dozen, Umesh a magnificent seven. Josh Hazlewood comes on to bowl for the first time today. He does Hazlewood things, hanging around off stump, trying a short ball here and there. Ashwin pushes a run, Umesh fends another away with a hope. Farms the strike.
“I would agree and disagree on the 50 thing,” emails Abhi Saxena. “As irrational as it seems to us from the outside, I think batsmen use these markers as something to concentrate on, like a checkpoint. Someone like Kholi/Smith have shifted their markers to the 100 point. I don’t know if you can concentrate a whole day if you don’t make personal markers for yourself… and not the usual team score etc. Like completing chapters of a book, doesn’t make much sense overall, but is surely important as a personal step (both reading and though I haven’t ever written one).
I’d agree about the personal markers being important. I’d argue though that they can be any number – they’re personal. Maybe you want to get to 40, then reset for 60, then 80. Maybe it’s batting a certain number of overs. On the version of writing a book, there’s definitely a sense of achievement at finishing a chapter. But the metaphor in this case would be getting close to finishing a chapter, then rushing through the last page with absolute crap to get it done, rather than taking the time to finish it properly.
112th over: India 321-7 (Ashwin 12, Umesh 7) Ashwin fakes a little hop forward on the crease, as if suggesting he’s about to charge, then stays put. Perhaps he wanted to lure Lyon into a short ball, but instead he gets a full one and comes forward to drive two runs through extra. Gets around his front pad to work a single to follow. One ball for Umesh to face. Six? Or 2.38 fours? Defensively turned to the leg side. Mouths drop open with shock. Clonk, clonk, clonk.
111th over: India 318-7 (Ashwin 9, Umesh 7) Umesh will be delighted to have got off strike first ball facing Starc, who bowls full and very wide and Umesh drives a single. Adam Collins has just stopped by my seat to ask me to look at Umesh’s ratio of fours to sixes in first-class cricket. That’s 106 to 43.
So Umesh hits one six for every 2.38 fours when he bats. That’s a golden ratio.
Ashwin plays a couple of balls towards point, placing the second well enough to get a run. Umesh ducks a bouncer. Sort of half plays a pull shot as he ducks, just a reflex mutter of a swing, like the sleeptalking variation of a shot. Then when it’s fuller he clears his front leg and has an almighty cannon at a ball that instead hits his thigh pad. Umesh = good time ≠ long time.
110th over: India 316-7 (Ashwin 8, Umesh 6) At least you know you won’t get bounced by Lyon. Ashwin takes a run first ball, and I would guess with iron certainty that after the barrage of the last over, Umesh Yadav will be looking to do 3000% of his scoring against the spinner.
Down on one knee, sweeps for four! His first ball of the over and it’s a nice shot, along the ground. Not sloggy at all. Then he even defends a couple. Wide stance, bat wafting in the backlift, and restraint comes to an end with a huge swipe to the leg side, bottom edged and dragged along the ground to midwicket. He’s off strike, and Ashwin is close to run out from the next ball after Wade at short leg knocks the ball back towards the stumps, but Ashwin realises just in time.
India lead by 121.
109th over: India 310-7 (Ashwin 7, Umesh 1) All bouncers now from Starc. Ashwin has one method: back away to leg and try to pull. Starc is back over the wicket for the right-hander. Ashwin gets hit on the collarbone, and has to call out the doctor. Eventually resumes, plays the exact same shot and gets a run. Umesh gets another bouncer, head high. How many are you allowed to bowl these days? Hmm. Starc does pitch up for the last couple. Umesh gets an untidy run, walking across and shovelling to the leg side. Ashwin gets a tidier one pushed out to cover.
108th over: India 307-7 (Ashwin 5, Umesh 0) How does Ashwin play it now? Attack to get a few, or will that just encourage his partner to do worse? He gets put down by Labuschagne at leg slip, another drop, but that would have been a miracle one. Ashwin pulling down the leg side. It’s hard to tell whether it came off bat or thigh pad, but I think it was kind of a bottom edge. Hard at Labuschagne and towards the ground, and it travels so quickly that it hits his hands and pops out before he really knows that it’s there. Ashwin tucks a single to keep the strike.
107th over: India 306-7 (Ashwin 4, Umesh 0) Right, get ready for the bounce-a-thon, the slog-a-thon, and quick wickets. India 111 in front with only the tail to come. Umesh has never met a ball that he didn’t want to slog, nor an innings that he didn’t want to be over quickly. He doesn’t have time to think about hitting Starc’s bouncer though, just tries to get out of the way.
WICKET! Jadeja c Cummins b Starc 57, India 306-7
Suddenly Mitchell Starc has more snort than a Sydney New Year’s Eve party. He bends another one inward and upward at Jadeja, who gets his gloves under it with another spinal contortion. Then Starc goes short but a bit leg-side and Jadeja tries the hook but misses. With his quarry thinking back foot, Starc bowls a hard length outside off and Jadeja fends and misses. Movement in the field, deep midwicket going back, the leg slip out, and deep square moving around further, as does long leg. Three out on the leg side. Short, Jadeja hooks anyway, and straight to that deep midwicket! How’s that for a field placing? Smart from Paine, stupid from Jadeja, and no defence counsel can explain that away. Three out for the hook so you play the hook. Cummins only two third of the way back to the long boundary, and he barely moves as the catch comes to him.
106th over: India 306-6 (Jadeja 57, Ashwin 4) Drinks break, and then Lyon bowls a maiden to Ashwin, the pair circling one another.
Robert Wilson marshals the case for the defence. “Passive voice needed,” he implores. “I don’t think it’s a fair cop to claim Jadeja ran out the boss (though it is, I admit, always funny). This is a great little double-value fifty from him and I’ve finally worked out why he appeals to me so much. It’s because he looks exactly (and I mean exactly) like a better version of Han Solo if Star Wars had been written by Tolstoy and directed by Michael Curtiz. He’s got that swashbuckling thing going. Despite himself. You could definitely see him boarding a pirate ship or a moving train – but self-effacingly somehow. Then a spot of puppy-rescue before a serious chat with the Emperor Palpatine about, you know, chilling out a little.”
I fully agree that Jadeja has buckled more than a few swashes in his day. I will still argue that he was trying to manufacture a single for his milestone, rather than trying to play the best shot available to the ball and taking runs wherever they might come. And that preoccupation created a wicket. When you try to get cute, cricket has a way of making it look ugly.
105th over: India 306-6 (Jadeja 57, Ashwin 4) Starc carries on, around the wicket, worked away for a run by Ashwin and a double by Jadeja, before the short ball finally comes out. Nasty, too! Across Jadeja and leaping at the gloves, and in the end Jadeja is saved by the ball being too quick for him. He’s arching his back, trying to get his hands up in self-defence, but the ball clears his gloves by a couple of inches before they can get high enough. So close to a wicket.
“The 50 is meaningless in the big scheme of things – paying attention to it was the very cause of Rahane’s demise. Overall, the focus on the 50/100 milestone in cricket is irrational.” Couldn’t agree more, Robert Speed. I love cricket stats, but it’s bizarre that a choice of recording a stats category becomes something that strongly influences how the game is played. An extreme example of the physics concept of observation affecting the subject.
104th over: India 303-6 (Jadeja 55, Ashwin 3) Not much trouble for Ashwin against his rival off-spinner, calmly tucking a run square. Jadeja gets surprised by Lyon’s bounce, pulling his head back as he pushes behind point the ball leaping at him. But when Lyon bowls short on a straighter line, Jadeja rocks back and pulls for four. There was a deep square leg but that went well in front of him to the long boundary at the city end of the ground.
India’s lead is 108.
103rd over: India 298-6 (Jadeja 51, Ashwin 2) Mitchell Starc replaces Cummins, and this is interesting: left-arm around the wicket to a left-handed batsman. Short leg and a leg slip in place, as well as a forward square leg and a mid-on closer to the bat, then in the deep a square leg and a long leg. So the deep square position is right on square, because there are two fielders behind square, which is the maximum allowed after Bodyline. All of that, and Starc doesn’t bowl a short ball, everything is pitched up. That’s what you call a bluff.
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102nd over: India 298-6 (Jadeja 51, Ashwin 2) You sense that this innings is about to become a scramble. To see how far in front India can get before they fall. If Ashwin bats well though, he could return some calm to proceedings. He drives a little single to cover, Jadeja squeezes one past short leg. Lyon always in the game.
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Half century! Jadeja 50 from 132 balls
101st over: India 296-6 (Jadeja 50, Ashwin 1) Jadeja gets his fifty at the second attempt, but the sword-flourish celebration is a bit hollow a minute after running out his captain. Jadeja has batted really well though. Fully justified his inclusion: first that catch, plus a wicket, and now this. Soaked up a lot of bowling. Ashwin is a right-hander, and we know he can bat – four Test tons to his name – but he’s been a lesser batsman through the latter part of his career for whatever reason. He gets off the mark as Cummins bowls on his legs, pushed away. Jadeja gets a good short ball that he sways away from, it comes off his arm I think through to Paine. Appeal, not out.
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100th over: India 294-6 (Jadeja 49, Ashwin 0) The wicket falls with the lead at 99, as Australia finish bowling the 100th over. Ashwin faces the sixth ball, dot.
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WICKET! Rahane run out 112, India 6-294
What on earth have they done! Rahane and Kohli created a run-out in Adelaide, surrendering that match, and now Jadeja and Rahane have done for the captain here! Jadeja wants his 50th run and thinks that the simplest way is to tap Lyon to cover and take off. Both batsmen run instantly, and hard. But Labuschagne is too quick, with a one-handed pickup and a hard flat fling, and Paine does brilliantly to take the ball with his gloves moving towards the stumps, meaning he can break them without losing a split-second of time. No one was hugely interested in the appeal, but the replay shows Rahane on the line, but not over it, fractionally further out than the decision that went in Paine’s favour. A century and run out. What a waste.
99th over: India 294-5 (Rahane 112, Jadeja 49) Not sure about the Cummins line of attack to Jadeja. Right-arm around the wicket, but Cummins strays leg side a couple of times, and his bouncers don’t threaten as they fade away to that side of the wicket. Jadeja just evades and waits and eventually glances a run.
98th over: India 293-5 (Rahane 112, Jadeja 48) It’s time for spin, time for Nathan ‘Nathan’ Lyon. With 392 Test wickets to date. Jadeja gets off strike third ball, dinking away a single to square leg. Lyon to the right-hander has looked as dangerous as to the left in the last couple of matches. Rahane defends out the balance.
97th over: India 292-5 (Rahane 112, Jadeja 47) Cummins to Rahane, back over the wicket, and starts nicely. Back of a length, just outside off, forcing the defensive stroke. Cummins has the quality to pull this match back, he just needs to find the delivery. Cuts the next one into Rahane, fuller, jammed into the pads. Then hits a length, having Rahane defend with high hands from the crease. Fuller, defending on off stump. Short ball, Rahane hooks but doesn’t time it, into the ground and Burns saves well as square leg to stop a run. Then a bouncer with a bit more width, and Rahane rocks back and tries to uppercut but misses. Lured Rahane into a couple of poorly played strokes in that over.
96th over: India 292-5 (Rahane 112, Jadeja 47) Feeling more adventurous, Jadeja reaches wide for a cover drive to Starc, which is well stopped by a diving Wade to keep them to one run. Starc’s line across Rahane has the batsman refining his leave. Hops to defend the shorter ball without visible concern, then checks a little off-drive for another run. They look comfortable, the batting pair.
95th over: India 290-5 (Rahane 111, Jadeja 46) Cummins to Rahane, too straight as well, and Rahane hops and glances a single. Jadeja gets a ball angling into his pads, fuller, and he defends with soft hands, drawing an outside edge into the ground and away for four. Never any risk in that, he played it well. Then he plays a leg glance for one. India up and running this morning.
94th over: India 284-5 (Rahane 110, Jadeja 41) Starc this morning hasn’t got the line yet. Right-hander and left-hander swapping over, and he keeps bowling at their legs, allowing then to work singles. Then he bowls wider and Rahane drives for two, that wasn’t a very safe shot though: it went along the ground but Rahane drove it on the up and reached for it well in front of his body. Any unexpected movement there and he would have been vulnerable. Hard hands would have created an edge that carried. Starc just gives a half shrug, as if to say that he has no problem with anyone playing that sort of shot.
93rd over: India 279-5 (Rahane 106, Jadeja 40) Cummins from the Members End to the left-handed Jadeja. He’s bowling around the wicket, angling in at the batsman and presumably hoping to seam one away. The ball doesn’t do much for him in this over though, and Jadeja can leave everything wider of the off stump, and defend off the back foot to those coming closer.
92nd over: India 279-5 (Rahane 106, Jadeja 40) And we’re away. Mitchell Starc takes the newish ball and charges in from the Great Southern Stand End, with three deliveries left to finish his over that was interrupted when play was abandoned last night. Rahane got clipped on the helmet, causing a delay in the first instance, and then the rain came down. Starc gets that in-swing to the right-hander that typifies his bowling, but Rahane clips him away neatly for a brace.
I’m learning a lot from my co-passengers about who they think is hot, how one guy’s wisdom teeth are going (the fourth is troublesome, the first three came through fine), and who got bashed by someone’s brother. The cricket analysis so far has been limited to, “Is that dickhead Tim Head playing?”
Everything this morning rests on the first partnership. Ajinkya Rahane resuming on 104, Ravindra Jadeja on 40. Rahane batted almost all day yesterday and was first-rate, against bowling that for hours didn’t let up. It was only with the second new ball after the 80th over that the Australians visibly tired and the bowling got a bit less accurate, but for the first three or four hours of the day everyone was at the Indian batsmen, every over, every spell. Rahane fought through it, then stepped up his scoring later. This morning he’ll have to do the spadework again, and the bowlers only need that breakthrough wicket to get things moving.
I am pleased to report that a large group of what can only be described as ‘lads’ have joined my carriage of the train and have arranged themselves in configuration all around me. They are about 19 years old, all wearing Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses, and one is carrying a four-litre box of crisp dry white. It is 10:06am. Start as you mean to go on. Their chief form of communication is shouting sounds that are not words. This is a journey that you and I are now on together.
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“G’day Geoff, my American girlfriend and I are following the coverage from Denver, Colorado,” writes Thomas Walker. “I’m competing with the Seattle v LA game for airtime but can’t wait for the match to start. Question – how did Cameron Green bowl yesterday? We were a little sauced by the time he came on but sounds like Warney wasn’t impressed. Anyway thanks for the OBO we love your work!”
Thank you, those of us down the OBO mines are glad to hear it. Denver is a lovely part of the world. I’ve only been there at the end of summer, it’s probably less great in winter when the usual consolation of snow sports is off the table for virus reasons. But it would be a dramatic locale nonetheless.
As for Green, I thought he was good in the morning session. Came on as the relief bowler, the Indian batsmen thought they might be able to relax for a few minutes, and instead he was hitting pads, getting edges, and quickly bowling in the 140s. He’s only young but the prospect of having 10 overs from him each innings to back up the frontliners is very exciting.
Or if you’d like the more detailed spoken summary from your OBO friends in me and Adam Collins, here we are.
The quick wires recap of yesterday’s play, if you’re of that mind.
What’s happening in the other matches? Kane Williamson made another Test ton, the 23rd for a man who gets to play less Test cricket than his celebrated peers in the world’s premier quartet, and NZ made 431. Pakistan will resume this morning with a nightwatchman in place at 39 for 1. Across the other side of the world, Sri Lanka batted well for 396, but South Africa will be closing on it when they resume much later today Australian time, at 317 for 4.
Get in touch
The old communication game. Just think, back when the Manchester Guardian first started, the OBO had to be engraved by hand and posted up on the bulletin board outside the office. And then if you wanted to contribute a note of good cheer or a reprimand for a typo, you had to go home, write a letter with pen and ink, and dispatch it by horseback with one of your best riders to hurry it to town for inclusion.
These days you can just use electronic mail, as they’re calling it, or the invention of the tweeterphone. My correspondence markers are in the sidebar. Have at it.
What’s that? That distant ringing of the bells, that buzz of something approaching? It’s what time? It’s cricket time! Well, why didn’t you say so. It’s day three of the Boxing Day Test. It’s day three in Melbourne, and in Mount Maunganui, and in Johannesburg, where three different Boxing Day Tests are going on. But our one, featuring Australia hosting India, is all set up to be a belter.
To wit: the Indians lead by 82 and have five wickets in hand. But the last four of those are a good chance to be knocked over in quick time. So Australia could polish them off fast if a wicket falls. Also, this third day will likely be the best for batting if history is any guide, even though this wicket has been far more lively than most MCG wickets in living memory. So a lead of around 100 could easily be not enough if the Australians bat well, make about 300 and set India 200 to win later in the game.
It’s all to play for today. Australia leading the series 1-0, India trying to fight back into it. Shall we?
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